Mauritius moves to harness wind power

Jean Marc d’Unienville, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of OL explained here that the each turbine with a capacity of 1 megawatt each will be installed at Britannia, 25 km South of the capital Port Louis.

The CEO added that the electricity produced will be sufficient for the consumption of 75 000 households and that the final aim will be to produce 37.4 kilowatt of electricity yearly. The cost of production will be around € 25 cents, which is less that electricity produced by different means, said the CEO.

D’Unienville pointed out that the project has multiple advantages over other means of producing electricity as wind turbine doesn’t pollute the atmosphere.

"This type of wind energy has an unlimited availability contrary to oil and coal which are become rare and cause a great amount of pollution to the detriment of the health of the population," explained the CEO. He added that with the setting up of the project, some 44 000 tons of carbon dioxide will not be released in the atmosphere.

According to the CEO, the height of the turbines will be 101 metres and they can resist cyclonic winds of 310km/hour. The project is in line with the policy of the government for a sustainable development and for the use of renewable energy sources, he said.

Mauritian authorities also have signed a contract with French company Vergnet to set up two windmills with a capacity of 275 KW on the Rodrigues Island.

The Republic of Mauritius is an island nation situated in the southwest Indian Ocean, about 900 kilometres east of Madagascar. The main island of Mauritius is situated at latitude 20¢ªS and longitude 57¢ªE and covers an area of 1,865 km2. The Republic also includes the islands of St Brandon (an uninhabited archipelago comprising a number of sand-banks, shoals and islets), Rodrigues (108 km2) and the Agalega Islands (26 km2).

Mauritius has a population of approximately 1.27 million. An economic growth rate averaging 5-6% annually for the past few decades has improved the welfare of citizens of Mauritius, as captured by its high Human Development Index of 0.804 (2005). Rising standards of living have also been accompanied by an increased demand for energy resources and greater generation of waste.

Mauritius has a dependency on imported fossil fuels for its energy needs close to 82%, and this dependency is increasing. The CO2 emissions associated with the burning of fossil fuels are also on the rise, and Mauritius has a per capita CO2 emission ~2.52 tonnes (2006). Virtually all energy is consumed in the form of electricity or as liquid fuels in transportation. The combination of electricity use and transportation accounts for more than 82% of total CO2 emissions.

The generation of electricity has grown at 5-6% annually over the past decade, and it reached about 2465 GWh in 2007. Thermal energy represented 96.6% and hydro/wind the remaining 3.4%. Approximately 78% of input to electricity production was fossil fuels. Electricity is consumed in roughly equal proportions by commercial, industrial and domestic activities.

These developments offer opportunities for Mauritius to leverage carbon finance for promoting sustainable development through the deployment of environmentally sound technologies.

For instance, because of the high dependence on imported fossil fuel, the grid in Mauritius is quite ‘dirty’, with an emission factor ~0.95 tCO2e/MWh. This suggests that there is much scope for renewable energy technologies such as solar power and wind. There is also scope for energy efficiency measures that will reduce the use of electricity. More efficient capture of methane gas at landfill for continued flaring or the generation of electricity also represents a viable carbon project. More specific projects are outlined below.

However, a small nation like Mauritius is constrained by economies of scale (i.e. the size of carbon projects), and the current low capacity to engage with carbon markets, especially the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) under the Kyoto Protocol. The transport sector also remains a big challenge, especially since there are no CDM approved methodologies for fuel switching using processed biofuels: Mauritius has, in principle, the capacity to replace 25% of its gasoline with bioethanol. The small land area of Mauritius also limits the potential for forestry projects.