Low turnout at public meeting on proposed floating PV system | 03 August 2020
The project for the installation of Seychelles’ first ever open ocean floating photovoltaic (PV) system was up for public consultation on Saturday.
An initiative of solar energy company Swimsol, the project is being implemented locally by Energy Solutions Seychelles and is in its economic impact assesment stage.
As unique and interesting as the project is, the consultative meeting organised at the Plaisance district administration received a low turnout with only four participants, excluding persons who are involved in the project one way or another.
Also present were four officials from the Environmental Assessment and Permit Section from the environment department, one official from the Energy Commission and Richard Hoareau from Energy Solutions (Seychelles) who is the local counterpart of Swimsol.
Swimsol has developed the world ́s first commercial marine-grade floating solar system SolarSeaTM. It allows for large-scale solar installations in the sea, saving precious land.
The system is available in several versions for different wave and wind conditions. Numerous commercial SolarSeaTM installations can be found in the Maldives.
In Seychelles, the offshore floating PV system is a demonstrative and experimental project, showing the government and other stakeholder what could be achieved with such an invention.
The location for mooring the PV system is on the waters outside of the Providence Industrial Estate, next to the Seychelles Fishing Authority’s (SFA) proposed aquaculture project.
Swimsol received a grant from the Nordic Development Fund (NDF) to develop an offshore floating demonstration project in Seychelles.
To clarify the confusion, the project’s consultant, Ian Charlette, stressed that this open ocean project has no connection to the floating PV system presently being undertaken in the Cascade lagoon.
The project expects to:
• support implementation of the Seychelles energy target of 15% renewable by 2030. Floating PV is the option to save limited space on land;
• support Seychelles in becoming a Centre of Excellence of renewable energy and energy efficiency in the region;
• reduce costs of power as solar PV will be sold to PUC at fuel marginal costs. With support of the NDF, Swimsol will fully cover the investment as well as the operational cost of the solar system;
• significantly reduce CO2 emissions and supports the pledges under the United Nations Framework on Climate change;
• implement the blue economy strategy in three out of four pillars;
• offers joint research projects and teaching opportunities for UniSey;
• offer permanent and high-quality labour. To ensure sustained impact of the project, capacity building will take place for local SMEs and local government regarding the technology and legal framework.
Swimsol’s innovative SolarSea technology is designed for island nations and overcomes the problem of limited space.
Much of the consultation focused on the environment and ecological impact of the solar PV system as well as its mooring and anchoring concept.
Following the meeting, Mr Charlette stated that despite the small turnout, the points raised have allowed for a general overview of the challenges and opportunities for the implementation of the demonstration project.
It is expected that the required framework for larger scale adoption of the technology can be developed during the demonstration phase and also ascertain as to whether such a technology is suitable or adaptable for the Seychelles.
“It is to be reminded that the project is not a commercial undertaking. Taking into account that the floating platforms takes at least 6 months for it to be delivered to Seychelles, the public meeting highlighted the need for continued awareness and active participation of all agencies and affected groups so that the implementation phase can be done more effectively,” said Mr Charlette.
“This is especially so given the fact that the East Coast of Mahé is the most active area of the Seychelles in respect to residential, commercial and industrial development,” he added.
The next stage of the project is the planning phase which should result in fine tuning the final details of the project design.