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Energy Initiatives Could Expand to Caribbean Nations Through American-Cuban Relations

New undersea cable system linking Jamaica, the British Virgin Islands and the Dominican Republic

New undersea cable system linking Jamaica, the British Virgin Islands and the Dominican Republic

The recent thaw in American-Cuban relations opens possibilities for co-operation in such areas as energy, initiatives that may spread to include several other Caribbean nations. A relatively short distance across the shallow Florida Strait and Nicholas Channel allows for possible future installation of several pairs of undersea power cables that each carry 2.4GW of power. The relatively short and shallow Windward Passage between Cuba and Haiti allows for possible installation of undersea cables that may supply power for both Haiti and Dominican Republic, from where undersea cables may connect to Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands.

At the present day, most Caribbean nations generate electric power using maritime oil engines that burn low-grade diesel and low-grade, low-cost bunker fuel. Periods of low oil prices and easy availability of oil reduces the cost of Caribbean power generation. The Lesser Antilles that extend from the US Virgin Islands to Trinidad are blessed with abundant sunshine, abundant wind energy, a strong ocean current and ample energy in the ocean waves. At present, the high cost of renewable energy reduces the ability of Caribbean government utilities to afford the installation of such technologies, leaving such development to private interests.

Summer weather conditions include the propensity for annual hurricanes and tornadoes that inflict costly damage to solar photovoltaic and wind energy installations. Wind installations are frequently shut down due to the frequent powerful winds. While wind-driven ocean waves offer a potentially reliable and viable means by which to generate alternative future power, offshore versions of the technology is still being developed with the appearance of viable, cost-competitive technology being many years into the future. Ongoing research into large-scale oceanic turbines that may be installed in the Florida Strait shows promise with each installed unit possibly generating up to 10MW.


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