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Cablegate: Wind Energy On the Rise in Rodrigues

VZCZCXRO2057
RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHPL #0368 2970532
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 230532Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY PORT LOUIS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4244
INFO RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 1025
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 0595
RUEHJO/AMCONSUL JOHANNESBURG 0754
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS PORT LOUIS 000368


SIPDIS

AF/E FOR MARIA BEYZEROV
ADDIS FOR SHAWNA HIRSCH
OES FOR STANLEY SPECHT
JOHANNESBURG FOR FCS CRAIG ALLEN
EEB FOR STEPHEN GALLOGLY

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ENRG ECON MP
SUBJECT: WIND ENERGY ON THE RISE IN RODRIGUES

REF: PORT LOUIS 97

1. SUMMARY. The Central Electricity Board (CEB), the government
agency responsible for the production, transmission and distribution
of electricity in the islands of Mauritius and Rodrigues, announced
that Vergnet (France) will set up two wind turbines on Rodrigues
Island to increase wind-produced electricity. The project, fully
funded by CEB, is a major step toward improving electricity
production and supply in Rodrigues and will contribute to the
island's sustainable development by reducing its dependency on
fossil fuels and is one initiative started under the Maurice Ile
Durable (Resilient Mauritius) project launched by the Prime
Minister's office this month. The Maurice Ile Durable project was
initiated after the Mauritian Public Utilities Minister attended the
Washington International Renewable Energy Conference (WIREC) and
presents opportunities for U.S. investment. END SUMMARY.

2. Rodrigues, a 40 square mile island 344 miles east of Mauritius
with a population of 37,000, is an autonomous region and dependency
of Mauritius. Electrical power is provided by CEB, who has an
office and fossil fuel-based electrical plant on the island. CEB's
tariffs are the same as on mainland Mauritius, although at a higher
production cost. By increased production of alternative energy,
fossil fuel dependence (and cost) can be reduced. This is a major
aim of the Maurice Ile Durable (Resilient Mauritius) project, a
large-scale initiative aimed at reducing the country's dependence on
fossil fuels in a wider context of sustainable development, which
was launched by the current Ramgoolam government this month. The
new wind turbines in Rodrigues are part of this initiative.

3. The Maurice Ile Durable project was championed in this year's
budget, which allocated Rs 1.3 billion ($48 million) to the fund to
support measures to increase reliance on renewable energy, protect
the environment through recycling, and encourage more efficient use
of energy. The exact target of this project-- to meet 30 percent of
Mauritius' energy needs through use of renewable resources by 2015--
was a target set and initiated by Public Utilities Minister Abu
Kasenally after his visit to the Washington International Renewable
Energy Conference in March 2008.

4. The Maurice Ile Durable project comprises several initiatives, of
which, two present opportunities for U.S. based companies. The
committee running the Land Based Oceanic Industry project, a project
that envisions using cold seawater for air conditioning and water
bottling, is already in talks with General Electric to supply
equipment. Likewise, the waste energy component of the Maurice Ile
Durable project is a partnership between a local company and U.S.
company Covanta Energy.


5. Vergnet, who will set up two new 275 kilowatt wind turbines, was
awarded the contract after a successful pilot program in 2003 which
resulted in three smaller turbines that are currently in operation.
The two new wind turbines come at a cost of Rs 40 million (USD 1.4
million), paid for by CEB. These turbines, expected to produce 1.66
gigawatt hours (GWh) annually (the three existing windmills produce
0.42 GWh), will bring Rodrigues' electrical generation by wind to 7%
of the total.

6. A CEB official stated that the wind regime in Rodrigues is
conducive to the implementation of projects such as these, and that
they see this project as a major step forward in curbing their use
of fossil fuels. He also said it would contribute to the island's
(Rodrigues) sustainable development. This project could be a
precursor for further development on the main island of Mauritius,
as well. Pilot projects carried out in Mauritius in the 1980s were
not successful as the wind turbines were damaged by cyclones.
However, in light of the successful implementation of such projects
in Rodrigues and the considerable progress in the design of
turbines, the government is planning to set up a 25-40 MW wind farm
in Mauritius with a view to optimizing the use of renewable energy.


BLASER

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