Mauritius powers down amid shortfall

Mauritius powers down amid shortfall

Facing an electricity shortfall, Mauritius is aiming to lower consumption through an energy efficiency programme. 

When Mahmood Hafez Amir was offered a free energy audit for his animal feed factory, he jumped at the chance.

Hafez Amir, the factory and plant manager at Meaders Feeds Limited in Riche Terre, near the Mauritian capital of Port Louis, has watched its bills for diesel and liquid petroleum gas rising.

Manufacturing industries in Mauritius spend in general at least around 20% of all their running costs on energy supply, and although energy prices have fallen over the last year, they remain high enough to be a drag on performance.

The country depends on imported fuel for around 83% of its total energy needs.

Last year, the government launched a national energy efficiency programme (NEEP), to help factories reduce their consumption and energy bills through energy audits. Funded by the Agence Française de Développement, the programme has resulted in savings of between 10-40% in companies that have adopted its recommendations.

“Earlier, we lacked some discipline, we were a bit negligent, now we are conscious that wastage of energy affects our finances and our economy,” Hafez Amir says.

The company put insulation on the pipes coming out of its boiler to reduce heat losses, and improved its maintenance schedule, resulting in savings of 15-20% on its energy bills.

“This is not only good for our factory but for the economy and the environment of the island as well,” Hafez Amir says.

Meaders Feeds’ competitors have also benefited. At Livestock Feed Ltd, operations manager Didier Rosalie says that his factory has had audits in the past, but they did not bring satisfactory results.

“This one is outstanding, both technically and quantitatively. We can now monitor the tuning of our burner regularly thanks to the audit,” he says.

Energy efficiency is at the heart of the challenges of competitiveness of the industrial and service sectors of the
Indian Ocean nations, which are small, dependent on imports and vulnerable to global market fluctuations.

The sustainability of Mauritius’ energy generation capacity has been under scrutiny, with the island facing an electricity shortfall by 2016.

The country needs to add 50MW per year until 2018, at the same time as reducing its imports of fossil fuels and hitting a target of meeting at least 35% of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2025. So-called ‘demand side reduction’ is one mechanism for alleviating a prospective shortfall, reducing the amount of energy lost through inefficiencies at the customer end.

The movement to improve energy efficiency began in 2012. A study showed that 650 enterprises across the tourism, services and retail sector use 60% of the total energy produced
in Mauritius.

“We worked out an energy audit plan that showed us that we can save 15% of the energy used by these big consumers, that was being wasted, without affecting their performance,” says Mickaël Apaya, head of mission for energy and environment at the Joint Economic Council of Mauritius.

“We can thus put off 40MW of electricity out the network and reduce fossil fuel imports that we need to produce electricity. Mauritius will also avoid 173,000 tons of CO2 annually.”

At the Energy Efficiency Management Office (EEMO), Energy expert and chairman Khalil Elahee believes the NEEP is an excellent initiative and should serve as an example for all private as well as public sectors.

As well as reducing the costs in existing industries, he says, it lays the groundwork for the development of

“The performance of our factories won’t be affected negatively by the NEEP,” he says. “Attaining optimum efficiency, productivity and reducing costs should be a const ant concern.”

Nasseem Ackbarally


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Written by Nasseem Ackbarally

Nasseem Ackbarally is a Mauritian journalist since the past 25 years. Presently working at LE MAURICIEN, a Mauritian daily published in French. He also writes for several international publications that include African Business and African Banker. He has travelled widely across Africa and Europe.

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