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Cablegate: Mauritius: Power Needs Blowin in the Wind?

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INFO RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 1043

UNCLAS PORT LOUIS 000056

DEPT FOR OES
ADDIS ABABA FOR REO KIRSTEN BAUMAN

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E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ENRG SENV MP
SUBJECT: MAURITIUS: POWER NEEDS BLOWIN IN THE WIND?

1. Summary: Mauritius opened its first substantial wind turbine farm
on January 11, at Point Grenade on the eastern coast of Rodrigues
Island. The wind farm already is producing 3.7 percent of the tiny
island dependency's electricity needs. End Summary.

2. The Mauritius Central Electricity Board (CEB) constructed two
giant, collapsible 2.7 kilowatt per hour (kwph) wind turbines and
transformer facilities at Point Grenade on the eastern coast of
Rodrigues Island and connected them to the island's electrical grid.
The 109 square kilometer island emerges on a volcanic ridge at the
very center of the Indian Ocean, 560km east of the Mauritius main
island. Point Grenade is a remote, arid, massif overlooking the
Indian Ocean and the nearby Rodrigues Triple Point - an undersea
tectonic fissure where the African, Indo-Australian and Antarctic
plates move apart from each other. Average wind speeds here are
18kmph. The generation capacity of the wind turbines, which already
provide 3.7 percent of Rodrigues energy needs, is set to double in
August when two more, identical, turbines will be installed.

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3. Embassy ESTH officer visited the project and met with Central
Electricity Board (CEB)Chief Engineer Navraj Rogbeer on January 20.
Preliminary CEB plans call for a total of eight turbines to be
installed at Point Grenade by 2011. The combined output would
provide approximately 15 percent of Rodrigues' electricity. By
2025, Rogbeer said CEB's goal is to obtain 35 percent of the
island's electricity from renewable resources. Rodrigues' wind
turbines are built by the Vernier Company of France and can
withstand 75kmph winds. Cyclones frequently batter Rodrigues, so
the wind turbines at Point Grenade are designed to be collapsed and
disassembled in 90 minutes. The Mauritius CEB began experimenting
with wind turbines on Rodrigues 25 years ago, but cyclones destroyed
several wind turbines at two of the island's wind farms shortly
after installation. Three smaller wind turbines at Point Trefles
remained intact, however, and continue to produce one percent of
Rodrigues'electricity.

4. The Rodrigues Regional Assembly has published an energy strategy
paper with ambitious plans to achieve energy self sufficiency on the
island by 2020 using 100 percent renewable resources including wind
turbines, solar panels, biomass and generating electricity from
ocean swells. However, Rogbeer said that with the exception of the
wind turbines, and installation of solar collectors for water
heating, most of Rodrigues' renewable energy options are not
affordable for the tiny island population of 40000.

5. Site preparation and installation of the two new wind turbines
at Point Grenade cost approximately 1 million euros and will require
nine years of electrical generation to recover investment. Expected
life span for the machines, given frequent extreme winds, is only 12
years. Most profit from wind generation on the island will come
from the potential for carbon offsets, Rogbeer said.

6. The CEB will also install two additional 2.7kwph wind turbines
at a site near Curepipe on the main island of Mauritius in August.

7. Comment: The substantial investment in the wind farm at Point
Grenade, Rodrigues Island, is one more indication that the Mauritius
government is serious about developing renewable energy. While
Mauritius is only beginning to generate electricity from wind, its
recent investment already contributes to a significant portion of
the Rodrigues Island dependency's electricity needs. On the main
island, Mauritius has invested heavily in renewable energy sources.
Since 2007, Mauritius generates between 21-23 percent of annual
electrical production from hydro sources and bagasse, a by-product
of sugar cane. Based on past performance, it appears that the GOM
will continue to invest in renewable energy, including wind energy,
when feasible.

Wills

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