The Republic of Seychelles is one of the few countries on the African continent where the access to electricity is 100%. Seychelles has an installed electricity generation capacity of just under 100 MW. About 80 MW of this is diesel generators. With about 85% of the country’s installed capacity being diesel generators in order to meet its electricity demand, fossil fuels imports make up 20% of the country’s import bill. The country installed a 6 MW wind farm in 2013, which displaces about 1.6 million liters of diesel per year. To further cut this diesel import bill as well as increase the penetration on renewables, a new 5 MW solar PV coupled with 5 MW/3.3 MWh of battery storage has just been switched on. The battery storage plant will help with stable supply of electricity from the PV power plant to the main island of Mahé and to increase the resilience of the national grid of the Seychelles.
Co-located with an existing wind farm, the PV array was specifically designed to maximize the use of available land, while allowing for the maintenance of the wind turbines and minimizing any shading losses resulting from the wind turbines. The new solar PV plant will save approximately 2 million liters of diesel annually and will displace approximately 6,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually as well. This is a welcome development as 95% of Seychelles CO2 emission is from fuel combustion for electricity and transportation. The Ile de Romainville Solar Park project was financed by Abu Dhabi Fund for Development(ADFD), was developed by Masdar and the Seychelles’ Public Utilities Corporation (PUC).
Utility-scale solar PV coupled with battery storage is perfect for island nations that depend diesel imports for electricity generation like the Seychelles. Increasing the penetration of these types of solar PV and battery plants is one of the quickest ways to reduce diesel use. These projects can be designed, financed, and completed in a short time compared to larger fossil fueled plants. Accelerating the adoption of electric vehicles will then be the next step in reducing diesel imports and CO2 emissions.
EVs are just perfect for these island nations. The average drive in the 115-island archipelago of the western Indian Ocean for the majority of car owners is said to be around 33 km per day. This takes range anxiety out of the equation. 80% of EV charging around the world happens at home. With such short daily commutes, the need for a vast public charging networks along with associated costs would also be reduced.
The Seychelles’ is moving to catalyze the adoption of EVs. The country has a target of at least 30% private electric vehicles by 2030 and 15.8 MW of solar PV to help support the demand for electricity. The Ile de Romainville Solar Park project is a great start for the country. We have seen multiple solar plus storage projects being developed in places like Hawaii, with some sites having at least 4 hours of battery storage. Seychelles is probably well placed to follow places like Hawaii and add more of these solar and battery storage projects to cut down on its diesel import bill.
Image courtesy of Masdar.
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