Mauritius reaches milestone in SEFA-supported pioneering low-carbon technology project

27/10/2016
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The Deep Ocean Water Applications (DOWA) project in Mauritius supported by the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA) marked a new milestone last week by welcoming the largest marine engineering platform of its kind – ‘Joseph Plateau’ – in Port Louis. The vessel will carry out detailed offshore marine surveys to introduce an innovative low carbon technology that lowers building cooling costs using cold ocean water – a first of its kind in Africa.

Mauritius has no known oil, natural gas or coal reserves, and therefore depends on imported petroleum products to meet most of its energy requirements. Because of its high dependence on imported fossil fuel, the grid in Mauritius is quite ‘dirty’ and emits substantial greenhouse gasses to the detriment of its people and environment. The Government of Mauritius is focused on diversifying the country’s energy supply, improving energy efficiency, addressing environmental degradation and climate change and modernizing its energy infrastructure while shifting to low carbon technology.

The DOWA project involves the promotion, design, construction and operation of a ground-breaking “sea water air conditioning” system which extracts and pumps cold sea water from the Indian Ocean to produce sea water air conditioning aimed at cooling buildings in Port Louis central business district and nearby locations.

Philippe Ong-Seng, Chief Executive Officer of Urban Cooling Ltd., the special purpose vehicle handling development activities for the project stated, “We are grateful for African Development Bank and SEFA support to this transformational project which will help Mauritius save significant electrical peak-power on the national grid, reduce the country’s carbon footprint, decrease the use of refrigerants that exacerbate global warming, and reduce the country’s dependency on fossil fuel. My dream is to see the Port Louis sea water air conditioning system replicated elsewhere on the continent. We look forward to continued partnership to make this a reality.”

When completed, the project will replace traditional air conditioning systems in buildings currently consuming the equivalent of 30 MW of electricity with a cold ocean water cooling system that requires only 4 MW of electrical power to operate. This will free 26 MW of electrical power to be used for other purposes, directly contributing to greater generation reserve margin to ensure a reliable power supply. It is further expected to reduce CO2 emissions by 40,000 tons per year, create 40 direct green jobs for skilled local engineers and technicians, and potentially create many more indirect jobs in downstream businesses.

Joao Duarte Cunha, AfDB Chief Climate Finance Officer, stated, “As the continent transitions toward green and inclusive growth models, innovative solutions such at this pioneering project hold the key to future cost, energy and carbon savings in countries which suffer from unreliable and insufficient energy supply. The first of its kind on the continent, the African Development Bank encourages more projects of this nature which unlock the potential of renewable energy, while improving people’s livelihoods and safeguarding the environment.”

The development phase is co-financed by a US $1-million project preparation grant from the African Development Bank-administered SEFA. The project involves marine surveys which will provide detailed charts of the geomorphology of the seabed and describe the seawater properties. This will enable the team from local engineer and construction company, Sotravic, to successfully proceed with the design and construction of the necessary layout of offshore pipes to be placed on the port area’s seabed.

Approximately 170 high-level officials and leading representatives from the public and private sector gathered at the official launch to mark the arrival of the vessel, including the Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Energy and Public Utilities, the Minister of Ocean Economy, Marine Resources, Fisheries, Shipping and Outer Islands, and the Minister of Environment, Sustainable Development, and Disaster and Beach Management.

At the head table, from left to right: Minister of Ocean Economy, Marine Resources, Fisheries, Shipping and Outer Islands, Honourable Premduth Koonjoo; Representative from SEFA/AfDB, Cherif Seye; Chairman of Sotravic Pierre Ah Sue; Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Energy and Public Utilities, Ivan Leslie Collendavelloo; and the Minister of Environment, Sustainable Development, and Disaster and Beach Management, Marie Roland Alain Wong Yen Cheong.