Is latest electricity plan in line with Maurice Ile Durable?
The second Integrated Electricity Plan (2013-2022) is all about ensuring that Mauritius and Rodrigues are guided towards a more secure electricity future, but fails to focus on green energy (Image: accommodation.io)
The second Integrated Electricity Plan (IEP) released by the Central Electricity Board (CEB) has recently been subject to scrutiny by the National Energy Commission (NEC). The NEC has analysed two schemes, with the first scheme being an energy landscape dominated by coal – the case for CT Power – and the second focusing on renewables.
Taking into consideration Maurice Ile Durable (MID), Dev Manraj, head of the NEC, discussed the two schemes in detail with the other members.
It was concluded that the second scheme is clearly better from both an environmental and social perspective because there will be job creation and the energy sector will be democratised as clean energy will be the area of focus.
However, if the first scheme is followed, two new firm generators – each having the capacity of 50 MW – will be required, first in 2017 and then in 2021. In that case, with the 100 MW CT Power project expected to be operational in 2016, the Pielstick engines at Saint-Louis Power Station would be gradually phased out. With this plan, the commission states that there is no chance that renewable sources would represent 35% of the island economy’s energy mix by 2025.
A key point of the electricity plan unfolded earlier this year was the assumption of a base-case scenario where demand for electricity increases at an estimated 3.4% annually. Thus, demand for electricity in Mauritius may be expected to reach 3196 GWh in 2022, according to plan parameters.
This would mean that additional capacity of up to 200 MW will be needed over the next 10 years, calling for investments to the tune of of Rs 18 bn. Of this, 72% will be required in the short term, including a provision of about Rs 5 bn for the development of renewable energy sources. Of the total investment, 70% will come from private investors, and the remaining from the CEB, Mauritius’ government-owned power company.
Overall, IEP 2013-2022 was all about ensuring that Mauritius and Rodrigues are guided towards an even more secure electricity future, but green energy was not kept in focus.
The plan had laid out as its key features optimizing the use of the existing power system, keeping the price of electricity low through least-cost capacity expansion, persuading customers to participate in Demand-Side Management (DSM), and providing for continued private sector opportunities in the electricity sector.
It also stated that renewable energy facilities would be provided by the CEB in compliance with the go-green policy of the government.
However, renewable energy generation is considered to be more expensive unless the environmental cost related to the fossil-fuels-based generation is calculated and factored into the average system generation cost of conventional technologies.
In this context, it is inappropriate for the CEB itself to determine the environmental costs associated with its own electricity production activities and may instead be more suitably determined by the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development (MOESD).