Making the most out of renewables- Seychelles partners with German energy experts
The power of the Sun, an limitless supply of energy, can become a major source of energy in Seychelles, where there is sunshine all year round (NASA)
(Seychelles News Agency) - To go solar or not to go solar? Such is the energy dilemma for many islanders in the Seychelles as the costs of installing photovoltaic panels are still high, and many still need to be convinced that excess energy they produce can be sold to the Seychelles’ national electricity supplier, Public Utilities Corporation (PUC).
PUC is working to make renewable energy an affordable reality in the Indian Ocean islands, and together with the Seychelles Energy Commission (SEC), is planning to assess the mechanisms for including energy made by solar and wind power into the grid system.
On Monday PUC and the SEC entered into an agreement with German energy consultants Energynautics to improve levels of renewable energy generation on the Indian Ocean islands, according to daily newspaper Seychelles Nation. The agreement was signed by PUC’s chief executive, Philippe Morin, and Thomas Ackermann, CEO of Energynautics.
According to the newspaper, the Energynautics project will “assess grid absorption capacity, grid code, feed-in tariffs and model power purchase agreements for renewable energy systems”.
Wind power plants and solar PV arrays need a local electricity network to collect the energy produced and feed it into the public grid, which needs to be optimized for reliability, efficiency and cost to keep the network running at peak performance.
4 step study : energy generation, grid code, tariff levels, models for energy systems
The first component of the twelve-week project will comprise of a study conducted by the consultants to analyze the potential impact of varying levels of renewable energy generation on the system, and will include several scenario-based tests to evaluate the maximum absorption capacity of the current system. Recommendations will then be made on how to achieve higher levels of renewable energy penetration.
The second step will be the drafting of a grid code to specify minimum technical requirements for renewable energy producers to connect to the PUC electricity transmission and distribution systems. Energynautics will also assess PUC’s immediate requirements for systems control and operations to enable the utility company to reliably meet its target of five percent of variable renewable energy to be integrated into the electricity grid by 2020.
The third step will re-examine feed-in tariffs and tariff levels, and will give expert recommendations to set the tariffs so as to both attract investors in renewable energy projects with a reasonable return on investment and also be affordable for consumers and tax-payers.
The last and final component of the project will comprise of preparing templates and models for the full range of possible renewable energy models, including wind, PV, biomass, hydro, waste-to energy systems and hybrid systems.
Renewable energy development in Seychelles
The Seychelles is in the process of implementing the SIDS DOCK project, which is an initiative among member countries of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) to assist Small Island Developing States (SIDS) like the Seychelles to transform their national energy sectors with environmentally-friendly, cheaper renewable energy and adapt to the challenges posed by climate change.
Seychelles has two renewable energy projects: a 6MW wind farm on the main island of Mahé Island and a GEF-funded pilot project for rooftop photovoltaic (PV) systems throughout the main inhabited islands.
On Friday, the Seychelles government announced a new solar energy scheme giving 35 percent rebate on the purchase of PV systems. Earlier this year, the Ministry of Finance Trade and Investment, together with commercial banks and the Seychelles Energy Commission, launched the Seychelles Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Programme (SEEREP). This programme had started to address financing barriers by allowing consumers to secure loans at 5 percent interest rate.
As renewable energy technologies become more affordable, they are increasingly becoming an economically viable way for island nations like the Seychelles to meet their energy production requirements and decreasing the rising cost of imported fossil fuels.