An Inception Workshop on the Establishment of a National Grid Code and Development of Standards, Funding and Incentive Strategy for Renewable Energy (RE) projects in Mauritius opened this morning at the Ravenala Attitude Hotel, Turtle Bay, in Balaclava. It is organised by the Mauritius Renewable Energy Agency (MARENA) under the UNDP-Green Climate Fund (GCF) project on 'Accelerating the transformational shift to a low carbon economy in the Republic of Mauritius'.
The event has as objective to define the way forward for the development of a Grid Code which sets out all the requirements relevant to the performance, operation, testing, safety, and maintenance of distributed generation connected to Central Electricity Board's (CEB) Medium Voltage Network through a step-up transformer. These technical and policy instruments and incentive schemes are expected to enable Mauritius achieve the RE targets set in the long-term energy strategy of the country.
In his address at the Inception Workshop, the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Energy and Public Utilities, Mr Ivan Leslie Collendavelloo, spoke about the importance of accelerating the development rate of RE in Mauritius. By 2020, he stated, solar energy will constitute of about 7% of the total energy export to the grid as compared to less than one percent in 2014. The investment in that sector, is some Rs 3.6 billion since 2015 and Mauritius has received a grant from the GCF of 28 million USD to enhance the development of a smart grid, he indicated. CEB is also examining proposals for the setting up of waste to energy power plants, and, all these projects lead us to expect that by 2020, RE will contribute to about 25% as far as the electricity field is concerned, he pointed out.
DPM Collendavelloo moreover elaborated on the progress achieved so far in the energy sector of Mauritius. These include: the setting up of 11 solar farms; operationalisation of a wind farm of some 9 megawatt in Plaine des Roches since 2016; small scale distributed generation scheme which has triggered a new era in the way in which electricity production is envisaged in Mauritius with an increasing reliance on RE; operationalisation of 1 200 rooftop solar panels with some 700 new applications for an additional 2 megawatt; green energy schemes subsidised by Government and by the CEB's green energy scheme for small and medium enterprises; and, offering assistance to citizens under the lower rung of the social ladder under the home solar scheme.
For her part, the Officer-in-Charge of the UNDP, Ms Sujitha Sekharan, highlighted the overall goal of the GCF project in helping Mauritius overcome identified barriers to low-carbon investment. 'We are glad to be able to collaborate with Southern African institutions in this respect and donor coordination is essential if we are to avoid duplication and enable synergies to be created across institutions', she emphasised.
Speaking about RE, Ms Sekharan highlighted that it is interesting to note that the share of RE derived from hydropower, solid and liquid biofuels, the wind, sun, biogas, geothermal and marine sources and waste, in the world's total final energy consumption is still increasing at a fairly low rate and hence solar and wind power still make up a relatively minor share if energy consumption despite their rapid growth in recent years. Therefore, we need to keep working on how to increase the share of RE on the grid, she added.
MARENA - Major Projects
MARENA, a body corporate owned by the Government of Mauritius which operates under the aegis of the Ministry of Energy and Public Utilities, currently benefits from two major consultancy projects:
· UNDP- GCF on 'Accelerating the transformational shift to low carbon economy in the Republic of Mauritius'; and,
· SADC-Project Preparation and Development Facility on 'Development of guidelines and standards for RE projects and a funding and incentive strategy in Mauritius'.
These projects are aimed at enabling Mauritius meet its target of using renewables to supply 35% of the country's energy needs by 2025. This is part of a broad national strategy to reduce the country's dependence on fossil fuels to enhance energy security and climate change mitigation.
However, it was deemed necessary to opt for a co-financed model to address overlapping interests and avoid duplications. It is in this spirit that the venture Establishment of a National Grid Code and Development of Standards, Funding and Incentive Strategy for RE projects in Mauritius was developed with MARENA as Client. The venture was undertaken by the Development Bank of Southern Africa (SADC) with co-financing from UNDP-GCF.