The Seychelles and Australia are the recipients of two solar photovoltaic projects aiming to bring solar energy to private homes and government buildings in the coming months
The Seychelles and Australia are the recipients of two solar photovoltaic projects aiming to bring solar energy to private homes and government buildings in the coming months.
The government of India has granted US$3.4 million to finance a solar photovoltaic project in the Seychelles, which aims to provide solar energy to 500 homes within the next 15 months.
The project will consist of four allotments and will provide electricity to homes either via solar panels covering the roofs or from a to-be-constructed solar photovoltaic farm.
The 1 megawatt solar farm will be constructed within the first allotment on Ile de Romainville, with 100 solar panel systems of 3 kilowatts installed on a selection of low-income homes in the second allotment. Combined, these phases are expected to directly benefit 500 low-income households, which already receive governmental social assistance to help pay electricity bills.
Chief Executive of the Public Utilities Corporation Philippe Morin and Director of SEFTECH India Debashush Mazumdar signed a contract for the supply and installation of the photovoltaic (PV) equipment on January 31, 2018 at a ceremony, which was also attended by the High Commissioner of India for Seychelles, Ausaf Sayeed, and Minister for Environment, Energy and Climate Change Didier Dogley.
SEFTECH was awarded with the project as one of its most responsive bidders.
The Agency for Social Protection will select the 500 households on the islands of Mahé, La Digue and Praslin that will be able to access the project.
Energy consumption from each household will be capped at 300 kWh, meaning that any electricity consumed after this limit will be charged to residents.
A domestic electricity bill currently charges R348.56, or $26, for 300 kWh, though the average household in Seychelles uses more than this amount due to the large amount of electrical appliances generally used in homes in the archipelago.
Currently, only 25 households benefit from installed PV systems, which were financed by the government in 2015.
Installing PV systems remains affordable only to well-off households in Seychelles, as they are more likely to be offered loans and other incentives to access green energy than low-income homes.
The project will also install 3 PV rooftop systems units of 200kW and 10 units of 20kW on a number of government buildings for its third and fourth allotments.
Work is expected to commence in 6 months’ time and take 12 months to complete.
Minister Dogley said: “There is a sector of the population that does not have the finances to do this, hence this project basically targets that group of people.
“This is why we are calling it the democratisation project: because it enables those who cannot to also invest in solar energy.
“There is a survey that needs to be done to identify exactly which [government] buildings will be the best ones to install the capacity on and once we are ready the Ministry will make an announcement.”
On the proposed cap on use, Morin added: “We find this to be quite fair as the PV system aims to substitute the funding provided by the Agency for Social Protection.”
Meanwhile, the state government of South Australia has signed a deal with automotive and energy company Tesla to install up to 50,000 solar-power systems on homes at no charge to residents.
The systems would include solar panels and Tesla Powerwall batteries and become part of a decentralised, software-managed electric grid.
The systems will be part-funded by electricity revenues which would not belong to the homeowners where the systems are installed.
One projection has suggested that energy bills for participating households could drop by 30%, with a pilot version of the programme already in motion reporting a substantial decline in energy charges.
An initial wave of installations are planned for 24,000 government-owned housing, followed by the goal participation of 50,000 households within 4 years, which would be connected as a `virtual power plant’.
The plan may rest on the outcome of the March election, however, as a conservative candidate challenging Premier Jay Weatherill opposes the plan.
Whilst supporting large-scale solar installation, Steven Marshall opposed the specifics of Tesla’s proposal and called it a “reckless experiment”.
In 2017, Tesla installed the world’s biggest lithium-ion battery in South Australia as a grid backup system.
It was successful in preventing blackouts following output drops from traditional power plants.
Tesla is hoping to implement its proposal in Australia in order to combat falling installation sales in the US.
Cuts in marketing efforts mean the company may need to replace door-to-door retail sales and generous individual financing with the higher-margin propositions of long-term solar installations.