Launch of the Energy and Environment Partnership with East and Southern Africa-Seychelles targets 15% renewable energy by 2030 -- Minister Payet | 27 July 2012
Prof. Payet addressing guests and delegates at the launch ceremony
The EEP programme for achieving more efficient use of new renewable energy sources is being backed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland, in cooperation with the Austrian Development Cooperation and the Department for International Development and the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA).
Besides Seychelles, the programme covers Botswana, Burundi, Kenya, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia, though not all were represented at the gathering at the Seychelles Trading Company’s conference room.
Environment and Energy Minister Rolph Payet said every week since he was appointed
minister in March, he receives on average two individuals who are interested in renewable energy. They want to know how they can enter the energy market and about opportunities here.
“Many are surprised when I tell them that they can enter the market now. Many are perplexed by the fact that in Seychelles, one does not have to pay duty on photovoltaic systems. However, many of those companies and individuals are also interested in any financial assistance that may be available.”
Prof. Payet said Seychelles is encouraging investments to expand the renewable energy sector, as we recognise that our economy cannot absorb the escalating costs of fossil fuels.
He added that fundamental to the strategy to stimulate investments in renewable energy, is the enactment of appropriate legislation to manage the industry, the appropriate institutions and a transparent feed-in tariff structure.
Both instruments are in the final stages of drafting and review, and will be submitted to the National Assembly for endorsement shortly.
It is envisaged that by December, Seychelles will have a liberalised energy sector and a number of independent power producers, Prof. Payet said.
He noted that Seychelles also need right investments, especially those that will contribute to our national efforts to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels in the long term, especially in achieving our target of 15% renewable by 2030, adding that as a small island state, we are vulnerable to external fossil price shocks and supply.
On the US $28 million wind farm project financed by the government of the UAE through Masdar, Prof. Payet said it is a clear example of the high cost of initial investments in renewable energy. He noted that the initial costs are clearly offset by the resulting decrease in dependence on fossil fuel.
However, it is obvious that wind energy sources will not be sufficient to meet our national demand for energy although it will be a significant contributor to our long-term objective, he said.
Prof. Payet said our focus on solar photovoltaic is therefore seen as an opportunity to further boost our renewable energy portfolio. Until recently however, the cost of photovoltaic has remained prohibitive and on a per kilowatt hour basis, was more expensive than wind energy.
“The economic viability of these energy options therefore need to be carefully evaluated,” he said.
Prof. Payet sees the fact that the Aldabra World heritage site is now running on renewable energy and is therefore a truly carbon neutral conservation area, as “a significant achievement for Seychelles”.
He noted that this is in line with government’s decision to allocate towards the solar farms on Mahe 60% of the grant received by Seychelles from the Indian government during the recent visit of President Pratibha Patil.
Other investment projects being considered by the government are in the areas of waste-to-energy, biomass and heat recovery, all opportunities where investment can be further nurtured.
Prof. Payet stressed that consumer education and awareness is an important component of this national strategy.
“We need to educate our children and consumers on the importance of energy conservation and making the right consumer decisions for energy efficient appliances and lifestyle.”
Saying that, Prof. Payet welcomed the ambassador of Finland, Brita Sofie From-Emmesberger, whose presence, he said, demonstrates the commitment of the government of Finland and the European Union in addressing the climate change challenge and supporting Seychelles to achieve its renewable energy targets.
The Africa-EU Energy Partnership (AEEP) is a unique initiative to improve access to reliable, affordable and cost-effective climate friendly and sustainable energy services in Africa.
The AEEP programme in Southern and East Africa is jointly funded by the governments of Finland, Austria and more recently joined by the UK’s Department for International Development.
Ambassador From-Emmesberger, who is based in Nairobi, hailed the leadership role that Seychelles has taken in promoting sustainable energy sources.
She said that the setting up of the solar energy system on Aldabra Nature Reserve, carried out with the assistance of AEEP funds, is an eloquent example of that commitment to environment conservation.
Ambassador From-Emmesberger said though the outcome of the recent Rio+20 summit was not up to expectations, it still came up with support for the “green economy”.
She said she is aware that in Seychelles we are also aiming for a “blue economy” that is linked to the ocean, and noted that both objectives are similar in that they aim for sustainable consumption patterns.