Cuba's Nuclear Reactors at Juragua


The following is an analysis and general overview of the only new nuclear power station north of the Equator in the western hemisphere that the Energy Information Administration projects could come on line by 2015. This is the Juragua Nuclear Station near Cienfuegos, Cuba. The nuclear industries of all countries have been described in the Nuclear Power Generation and Fuel Cycle Report 1997 (and its predecessors). The Office of Coal, Nuclear, Electric, and Alternate Fuels plans to expand the country-level summaries in the near future, but probably not to the extent of this particular site. There are many complex issues surrounding Juragua, and much conflicting information. Therefore, the options appear to be (a) ignore Juaragua, (b) dismiss it with a few sentences and avoid the key issues, or (c) attempt to present an impartial examination of the issues and prospects for completion. This represents the third option.

Current Situation

Cuba has two partially constructed nuclear reactors: Juragua 1 and 2, with 408 net Megawatts (electric) capacity each. If two of anything can be said to be unique, then Cuba’s nuclear pair fit the definition. 

Although the Juragua reactors are smaller than most of the reactors in operation today, their significance can not be measured in units of capacity alone. These are the only commercial reactors north of the Equator in the western hemisphere that EIA projects could come on line in the first two decades of the next century. 

For the principals, there is much at stake. Cuba could generate an estimated 15 percent of its electricity supply from nuclear power if just one of the reactors manages to come on line. If the reactors operate safely and efficiently, Russia might be able to greatly enhance confidence in its nuclear program. This will be crucial in Russia’s efforts to expand an export market. 

The United States has expressed concerns about safety and opposes completion of the reactors. This web site, however, is not a technical analysis nor a policy analysis. The purpose of this web site is to continue EIA’s role in informing government, industry, and the public about trends in energy production, supply, prices, and demand. The Cuban reactors have been the subject of numerous articles, reports, and media attention. This site is an attempt to present an impartial summary of the available information. It describes the history of the Juragua project; relates how and why safety concerns arose, then discusses the prospects for completion.


History of the Cuban Commercial Nuclear Program

To illustrate the trends in the 15-year history of the Juragua project, this section compares the similarities and differences in the development of the Cuban and U.S. nuclear industries and places them in the context of events happening elsewhere in the world.
The Reactors at Juragua

This section looks at the characteristics of the two Russian-built nuclear generating units planned for Cuba, and compares and contrasts them with other Russian and U.S. models.
The Safety Issue

This section will not resolve the issue of whether the Juragua project is safe, but it will identify what the concerns are.
The Impact on U.S./Cuban Relations

Because the United States has played a very active role in discouraging investment and delaying the project, it is essential to have some understanding of the policies that relate specifically to the construction of the Juragua power plant. This section presents a brief summary of the key issues and how they arose.
Will the Juragua Nuclear Power Station be Completed?

The obstacles encountered in completing the Juragua project have been substantial, but the key question is will they be decisive? This section looks at whether or not Juragua will ever go on line and when.

SOURCE File last modified: September 2, 1999

Contact Name
John Moens
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