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Power Industry in Mauritius

The power sector in Mauritius has undergone drastic changes during the last few years. The country has moved from a state of almost complete dependence on petroleum products for electricity generation to a new position whereby most of the electricity is generated from coal and bagasse. The sugar industry has invested huge amounts to generate more electricity from bagasse during crop season and from coal during off-season. This development has been welcomed by the government’s Bagasse Energy Development Program (BEDP).
With the continuous rising cost of petroleum products and the devaluation of its currency vis-à-vis other major currencies, Mauritius has found itself with little option but to become proactive in finding other ways to generate electricity from alternative sources of energy. The government recognized this tendency in the early 1990sand acted accordingly by proposing the “Sugar Sector Strategy Plan”. The aim of this plan was to promote and encourage the setting up of bagasse/coal power plant. Bagasse is “freely” available in huge quantities in Mauritius as a sugar producing nation while coal is by far cheaper than other common fuels used for electricity generation. The sugar industries acted promptly on the incentive provided and since then, Mauritius has moved a long way from the traditional way of generating electricity using mainly petroleum products.
Fuel oil is the main source of energy used for electricity generation in Mauritius. The remaining electricity was generated using coal and bagasse. But soon, the country would enter a new era, where most of the electrical energy would be generated using bagasse/coal. This change has been possible thanks to massive investment from the private sector which currently provides for about 40% of the total electricity generated. 
Bagasse is the fibrous matter that remains after sugar cane is crushed, the juices extracted and fall into a category of fuel which is more commonly known as “biomass”. It has the great advantage of being carbon neutral, meaning that using it as a fuel does not contribute to the production of carbon dioxide and hence greenhouse effects. It is also readily available in abundance during half of the year. Mauritius produces about 6 million tons of sugarcane every year and about 35% of this is left as bagasse after processing. 

Coal used in Mauritius is imported from South-Africa or Mozambique and is generally low in sulphur content. The main problem associated with coal-fired generation is with regards to its carbon-dioxide emission. Dust and ash residues are other issues which need attending to after combustion and secondary usages need to be identified for them.

Last Updated on: 20-04-2010

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