The power of waste.
Mauritius is now producing electricity from the waste that municipal trucks carry from every region and dump at the landfill at Mare-Chicose, in the southern part of the island.
A new energy-producing plant, Mare-Chicose GTE, will generate up to 3MW of renewable electricity, preventing the release of about 668,000 tons of C[O.sub.2] in the atmosphere over the next five years. Experts from the EU have visited the plant recently saying they would like to use this project as a case study for other African countries.
The waste-to-green-energy plant is an initiative from a private firm, Sotravic that has funded the whole set up to the tune of MRs200m ($6.5m). It is capable of producing 110mkWh of electricity during the next five years to serve 5,000 homes; this represents 1% of the total electricity production of the island. The electricity produced is sold to the national grid, the Central Electricity Board (CEB).
Until now, the biogas produced by the natural transformation of organic waste on this landfill was burned in a cresset and its energy dispersed in the air. This project is the first of its kind to be set up in Mauritius. The use of biogas to produce electricity in the landfill has triple benefits, economic, environmental and as a source of green energy that reduces the consumption of fossil fuel.
Statistics reveal that energy consumption is the main source of the release of C[O.sub.2] in the atmosphere in Mauritius with about 55% generated by the use of fossil fuel, with Mauritius' energy needs increasing year by year, more and more C[O.sub.2] is being released into the atmosphere. About 3,957m tons of C[O.sub.2] were released in 2010. Out of it, only 250m tons were absorbed by the forests. The island produces electricity mainly from coal (51.2% in 2010), use of bagasse (23.9%) and fossil fuel (24.3%).
Prime Minister Navin Ramgoolam said that the initiative to produce electricity from waste is an excellent example of the vision of making Mauritius a sustainable island.
Launched in 2008, the Maurice lie Durable project's main objective is to bring about a decrease in C[O.sub.2] released in the atmosphere by favouring the use of renewable energy available locally. "Even if our island is small and without natural resources, we can reduce significantly our dependence on fossil fuel and become a sustainable society," Ramgoolam declared.
With this plant, a new independent power producer (IPP) using waste is now born. Earlier, an individual, a college, a training institution and a commercial firm all started producing electricity on a small scale through photovoltaic panels. A hundred other small IPPs will soon get their licences to produce electricity from different renewable sources.