Far out into the Indian Ocean where it is forced to be self-reliant, the island nation of Mauritius is weaning itself off fossil fuels by turning to its main cash-crop sugar cane, for electricity. The leftover, crushed sugar cane stalks and tips — dry fibrous material known as “bagasse” — is burned to help power Mauritius and reduce its reliance on coal and oil.
Electricity from sugar cane now accounts for 14 percent of the island’s needs and, when combined with other renewable sources such as solar, wind and hydro, provides nearly a quarter of daily consumption. “The government’s goal is to increase the share of renewable energy in the energy mix to 35 percent by 2025,” said deputy prime minister Ivan Collendavelloo who is also energy minister. “The 35 percent is not far off; we will have 11 solar parks by next year and at least two wind farms,” he said.
In Mauritius, around 60 percent of the island’s electricity is generated by four sugar companies, each running its own thermal power station. The plants run on coal for part of the year then switch to sugar cane byproducts when harvest season comes. However there are clouds on the horizon in the form of a drop in sugar prices since the European Union ended quotas in 2017, and increases in production in Thailand, Brazil and India, which together have put pressure on the island’s farmers.
Source: The Times