Powering towards solar energy in SeychellesOct 21, 2015
Seychelles is making strides in transforming its energy sector by investing heavily in renewable energy through investments in solar power and financial incentives to both households and businesses.
Like many small island developing states, Seychelles relies significantly on imported oil and other fossil fuels for transport and electricity generation. Spending a large part of the country’s GDP on energy imports creates budgetary pressure, increases economic volatility, and enhances greenhouse gas emissions.
To address this, the government is focused on diversifying the country’s energy sources, and is targeting that 20 percent of energy be generated by renewable sources by 2020.
“Seychelles must do all it can to transform its economy from one which is based totally on fossil fuel to one based upon more sustainable forms of energy, such as renewable energy,” said Mr Didier Dogley, the Minister for Environment, Energy and Climate Change.
As part of this effort, the government, in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF), has put in place a four-year, US$ 7.28 million initiative focused on creating an enabling environment for solar photovoltaic (PV) adoption.
Financial rebate schemes for household and commercial consumers have also been introduced to boost and fasttrack household and commercial adoption of these panels.
US$ 1.4 million fund, co-funded by the government and GEF, rebates 35 percent of the cost of new solar panels up to 3 kilowatts (kw), targeting a total uptake of 1.3 megawatts. The rebate reduces the cost of a typical 2 kw system to around US$ 4,200, an affordable amount in a high-income country.
The rebate policy builds on a decision by the Ministry of Finance, Trade and Investment, together with commercial banks and the Seychelles Energy Commission, in January 2014, to offer low‑cost loans to households and businesses for the purchase of solar panels.
By the end of July 2015, 163 PV systems had been installed, most of them in private homes and are between 3-7 kilowatt peak (kWp). This amounts to 1,242.8 kWp in installed capacity, which has already contributed a total of 13.96 million kilowatt hours of electricity.
“This is equivalent to offsetting approximately 3.3 million litres of fuel,” says Mr Tony Imaduwa, the CEO of the Seychelles Energy Commission.
Any un-used electricity generated by photovoltaic units can also be sold back to the national Public Utility Corporation, enabling residents and businesses to earn additional income from their investment in renewable energy, lower their utility bills, and reduce demand on the national power network.
UNDP has also enhanced local capacity by training 40 experts in PV installation and maintenance. In addition to this, UNDP is facilitating the training of two Seychellois trainers in the United Kingdom. The two trainers of trainers are now spearheading the Seychelles Institute of Technology’s newly developed PV installation course.
UNDP also helped to organise an extensive education and awareness programme, involving the local media, to public awareness on clean energy and boost the uptake of PV systems.
“By reducing fossil fuel consumption, Seychelles is reducing its greenhouse gas emissions, improving its energy security, and freeing up national spending for investment in climate-resilient development,” says Roland Alcindor, Programme Manager at UNDP Country Office.
“These investments can secure jobs in sectors such as clean energy, improve healthcare and education, and provide stronger safety nets for people whose livelihoods that may be affected by the phase out of fossil fuels.”