Wind farm expected to save country $2 million per year on energy costs


Minister Payet looks on as President Michel and Dr Al Jaber unveil the plaque marking the inauguration of the wind farm

The project, which consists of eight wind turbines built to provide electricity to more than 2,000 homes, was officially inaugurated by President James Michel on Monday.

It was therefore fitting that the weather was particularly gusty during the inauguration ceremony. The gigantic blades of the closest turbine whirred almost noiselessly above the VIP marquee, making a sound similar to an aeroplane far off in the distance.

“This project showcases the collaboration that exists between Abu Dhabi and Seychelles, and it is a concrete example of what two countries that share common ideas, when they work together, they can bring about positive results. This project will launch Seychelles into the 21st century as far as renewable energy is concerned, because as I have always said in the past, we have to move forward into the future and the future is renewable energy. The future is where we can harness the forces of nature to be able to give us the energy that we need instead of using other energy resources that will have an effect on the climate change,” said President Michel, addressing the media after the ceremony.

President Michel said he believed that the future lies in producing energy from renewable sources instead of continuing to use energy from sources that would impact the climate negatively.
He added that in today’s world, partnership was very important.

“We have it with the UAE, we have it with other countries of the world, and this is the way for Seychelles and other countries of the world to move forward, especially in this new global village.”
The Port Victoria Wind Power Project is the first large scale renewable energy project built in Seychelles, the culmination of a collaborative agreement signed between Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company, Masdar, and the government of Seychelles when President James Michel visited Abu Dhabi in January 2009.

Also taking part in the inauguration ceremony was the Minister of State of the United Arab Emirates and chief executive of Masdar, Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, witnessed by Vice-President Danny Faure, the secretary general of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (Unctad), Supachai Panitchpakdi, and other dignitaries from the Cabinet, the National Assembly and the diplomatic corps.

The innovative design of the wind turbines, according to Minister Payet, lies in the aeronautically-designed blades, engineered to “sniff out” the weakest of breezes, as he puts it.
“They are a new addition to our landscape, beautiful structures in their own right,” he said. “As magnificent pieces of engineering, their beauty also resonates very well with our sustainable development vision.”

 A partial view of the wind turbines

“It is said that the Seychelles were first discovered by the Arabs in the early 9th century, probably using sailing dhows powered by the wind,” said Professor Payet. “Twelve centuries later, we are gathered here to celebrate another historical event – the launch of our very own wind farm proudly donated to us by the President and people of the United Arab Emirates.”

“The architect of the modern Seychelles, President James Michel, has been personally involved in this project since 2007,” said Professor Payet. “On many occasions he has expressed his deep concern over the rising cost of electricity and its impact on our people. He was also convinced that even as a small country we can do something positive towards addressing climate change. His passion and determination to make this dream a reality is today a promise delivered.”

“The energy vision of President Michel does not end today – it’s actually the beginning. His vision is to see on every roof and on every home in the Seychelles an array of photovoltaic panels, each oozing watts of electricity for the Seychellois home.”

According to the minister, since commissioning started in the first quarter this year the wind turbines have produced over 1.1 million kWh of electricity, equivalent of 250 tonnes of fuel saved by this country.

Before the wind farm began its operations, Seychelles was entirely dependent on imported fossil fuels for its energy generation. The integration of clean, sustainable energy is helping the country decrease its power outages, address its long-term energy security and reduce its carbon footprint.

The project is expected to produce nearly 7GWh of clean energy per year, displacing approximately 5,500 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually and power an estimated 2,100 homes per month. The plant will reduce the import of fuel by an estimated 1.6 million litres per year.

The Public Utilities Corporation (PUC) has now taken over ownership of the wind farm on Ile du Port and Ile de Romainville, and for the coming two years will operate and maintain it with the help of their South Korean manufacturers Unison to ensure the smooth operation and maintenance of the equipment.

The project was financed through a US $28 million grant provided by the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD), a government entity which helps to enhance the living standards in developing nations.

In his speech at the ceremony, Dr Al Jaber took the opportunity to congratulate Seychelles on its 20th National Day of the third republic, remarking that the island nation boasts a growing economy, a healthy tourism industry and has now reached what he termed an “important milestone” in the pursuit of energy independence.

“As young nations, both the UAE and Seychelles have achieved so much, in so little time,” he said. “Looking forward, we will continue our efforts in building a sustainable economic, social, and environmental future.”

Dr Al Jaber said the cooperation between the two countries on environmental issues was set to continue by working together on a roadmap to address the “blue economy” during the Abu Dhabi Sustainability week in January next year.

Guests in a souvenir photo of the occasion with some of the wind turbines visible in the background

“Together, we will underscore the importance of making island nations, oceans, seas, and their resources, a focus in the global debate about food security and sustainable economic development,” he said.

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