Wind energy in Madagascar

Madagascar is aiming to plug its energy gap and reduce its carbon emissions by encouraging a major investment in large-scale wind turbines, the country’s interim president, Andry Rajoelina, has announced.

‘An additional 50 megawatts from wind power could be available by the end of the year,’ he said. Unofficial figures put the cost of the initiative at US$80 million.

To push the wind farm project forward, a special unit has been established in the office of the president, and the government will halve taxes in the 2012/13 financial year on imported equipment such as rotors for wind turbines to attract private sector involvement.

The tax benefits will extend to hydropower turbines and solar power panels, but the main thrust of the government’s move is focused on expanding the wind energy sector.

Rajoelina said technologies currently used to produce electricity on the island are outdated and environmentally hazardous because of carbon emissions and pollution.

More than 110 diesel power stations currently supply 296.5 megawatts of the total installed capacity of 428.1 megawatts, according to Jiro sy Rano Malagasy, the national water and electricity company. The Energy Options for Madagascar conference in Antananarivo, held in December, heard that Madagascar’s electricity need is expected to reach 700 megawatts by 2030.

And about 95 per cent of households rely on firewood for cooking, resulting in large-scale deforestation. Both factors have led the government to announce the need for a major investment in wind energy to meet the country’s energy needs.

‘Southern Madagascar has huge potential for wind power,’ added Vony Ramboaharison, marketing director at Energie Technologie, a company based in Antananarivo that supplies equipment for the renewable energy market.

Rakotomalala agreed that wind energy could work in some areas of Madagascar, but said it should be the last option as the country has great potential in hydropower, followed by tidal energy, biomass, biogas and geothermal energy.

To date, only 1.6 per cent of the existing hydropower capacity — estimated at eight gigawatts — is being exploited, while other sources are barely developed, he said.