Seychelles on fact finding mission to Spain in pursuit of energy diversification
Between the 9th and 13th December 2014, a three man delegation visited Spain to obtain valuable information on a pioneering renewable energy and energy storage project being developed on El Hierro island in the Canaries. The aim of the visit was to find out what Seychelles can learn from El Hierro in the pursuit of energy diversification, using renewable energy resources.
The delegation, comprising of Mr. Philippe Morin (CEO, Public Utilities Corporation), Mr. Andrew Jean Louis and Mr. Dominic Rassool (both National Project Managers at the Ministry of Environment and Energy), met with the Spanish Institute for the Diversification of Alternative Energy (IDAE) in Madrid, where they were given a brief presentation on Spain’s energy mix and general objectives of the IDAE.
The subsequent visit to El Hierro Island, which lasted for three days, allowed the delegation to have a comprehensive overview of the island’s wind farm, which is connected to a pump storage facility. The purpose of this setup is to store energy generated by the wind turbines, and use it during less windy periods.
The Canaries are a small island group, and although a Spanish territory, these islands face similar energy and fresh water challenges to those of the Seychelles. Small islands are typically characterized by having isolated electricity grids, which are weak. In the case of both the Canaries and Seychelles, this issue is further compounded by the growing demand for electricity. Given the rising costs associated with importing fossil fuels, part of the solution is for renewables to be added to the energy mix.
Being the most isolated in the Canaries group, El Hierro was identified as the ideal location for IDAE’s wind-pump-storage project. Although not yet fully operational, the system has demonstrated that the issues which are usually associated with an intermittent source of renewable energy, such as wind, can be almost completely mitigated when said technology is coupled with a pump storage system. Add to that the value of reservoirs as a means of storing fresh water, it is clear that this nexus can be considered for the Seychelles context.
The delegation’s consensus has been that there is potential for such a system to be adapted for use in the Seychelles, though solar energy would have a role to play, too. The islands of Mahe, Praslin and La Digue have all been identified as potentially good candidates, especially given their relatively high renewable energy resource potential. The delegation has, however, highlighted that if such a proposition is to be considered, it is essential for their Spanish counterparts to make a visit to Seychelles, and assist in the preliminary stages of a feasibility assessment.