The potential for the development of offshore wind energy in Mauritius exists however it is important to take into consideration environmental aspects such as cyclones and tsunamis and the coral reef as well as respecting the different phases of the supply chain.
These remarks were made by General Electric (GE) Renewable Energy industry expert Gautier de Martene who was intervening yesterday during a half-day workshop held at Cyber Tower 1, Ebène Cybercity, on the topic of offshore wind energy. His presentation was entitled Offshore Wind energy projects - roadblocks and challenges.
Preliminary research on offshore wind in the waters of Mauritius has yielded encouraging results and it is against this backdrop that the workshop, organised by the Mauritius Research Council (MRC) jointly with the U.S. Embassy in Mauritius, was held. The objective was to add to the ongoing research for the effective development of the country's marine renewable energy sector and help Mauritius assess offshore wind power based on the real-world experience of international companies. The discussions are expected to help the country meet or exceed its target of 35% of electricity production from renewable energy sources by 2025.
Mr de Martene oversees strategic marketing for the offshore wind activities of GE and his position gives him a broad understanding of the technical and economic drivers of offshore wind energy. He has worked on several business development activities in various countries such as Taiwan, Japan, China and the United States.
In his presentation, Mr de Martene gave an insight into the various aspects of offshore wind energy. Speaking about wind speed in Mauritius, he said that the country's wind regime which stands at 100 metres is equal to about 350 watt of square metres and most regions around the island are above the average of the required 350 square metres. This is enough to deliver a good quantity of offshore wind electricity to make it competitive. Three potential locations for exploitation have been identified: Flic en Flac, Mahebourg, and Rodrigues.
As regards the advantages of offshore wind, Mr de Martene said that offshore wind supplies green electricity. A wind turbine set up in European conditions can support 26 gigawatt/hour of electricity and if installed in Mauritius' waters could deliver green electricity to more than 14 000 Mauritians. Other benefits include: reduction of CO2 emission; growth driver for the local economy with job, value and power creation; reinforcement of energy independence and less dependence on fossil fuel and imports; and, health improvement.
Also present at the workshop, the Executive Director of the MRC, Dr Arjoon Suddhoo, who gave an overview of the Mauritius' Marine Renewable Energy Potential. It is to be noted that there is an ongoing body of research on the development of ocean renewable energies by the MRC that covers offshore wind power generation, with the immediate focus being on the development to onshore wind energy.
Offshore Wind Energy
Offshore wind turbines are being used by a number of countries to harness the energy of strong, consistent winds that are found over the oceans.
Offshore winds tend to blow harder and more uniformly than on land. The potential energy produced from wind is directly proportional to the cube of the wind speed. As a result, increased wind speeds of only a few miles per hour can produce a significantly larger amount of electricity.