The island nation of Mauritius has taken another step towards energy independence as it signed agreements with international firms to supply solar and wind power. With these agreements the island now expects to have a total renewable energy capacity of 60 MW connected to its grid by 2015.
The Central Electricity Board (CEB) signed an energy supply agreement with Saraco which will set up a 15 MW solar photovoltaic (PV) project. It also signed an energy supply agreement with Aerowatt for a 9 MW wind energy project.
Last year, the CEB signed a deal with Suzlon Padgreen for a 29.4 MW wind energy project. Yet another deal is expected to be signed for a 10 MW solar PV project over the next few weeks. In total, Mauritius will have renewable energy generation capacity of more than 60 MW over the next few years.
These renewable energy projects would play a significant role in reducing the island’s dependence on imported fossil fuel even though the government admits that a fossil fuel-based backup is essential for when the solar and wind energy resources are not available. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the island nation had energy self-sufficiency of 19.1% in 2010 and spent $561 million on fuel imports that year.
Mauritius needs to increase the share of renewable energy in it energy mix. Between 2000 and 2010, the share of fossil fuels in country’s primary energy mix increased from 74% to 83%. During this period, the share of hydro power and biomass energy fell significantly.
Expansion of renewable energy infrastructure would help Mauritius reduce its dependence on imported fuel. Islands around the world are working on renewable energy and energy efficiency projects to increase self-sufficiency in the energy sector.