Cuba's sugar industry is now able to produce energy from sugarcane biofuel to run its plants and sell the surplus, an industry official said on Wednesday.
Barbara Hernandez, a manager at the state-run sugar producer Azcuba, said that over the past decade, Cuba has succeeded in making all of its sugar mills and related plants energy self-sufficient. The sector also sells surplus electricity to the public grid.
"We can therefore say that today we no longer harvest just sugar, but sugar-derived energy," Hernandez said.
"We have done this in a step-by-step manner. During the 2012-2013 harvest, we sold a surplus of 110.5 gigawatt hours (GWh)."
The goal for next year is to increase that surplus by five GWh, she said, adding the sector significantly saves fuel costs for the government.
Cuba now generates as much as 86 percent of its renewable energy from biofuel derived from sugarcane. Still, Hernandez considered the figure to be "modest."
The government plans to invest in building a group of bioelectric plants attached to sugar mills to generate more than 725 megawatts of power between 2015 and 2030, according to officials.
Cuba, which meets half of its own oil needs and gets the other half through soft credits from its political and economic ally Venezuela, is also pursuing other forms of renewable energy.
Last April, it launched its first solar farm, with more than 14,000 photovoltaic panels, in the town of Cantarranas, 251 km southeast of Havana. Authorities plan to build six more in the coming months.
According to official data, the country generates 4 percent of its electricity from renewable sources and expects to raise the figure to 10 percent by 2030.