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Occasional  Paper 2:Bagasse-based Cogeneration in Mauritius-A Model for Eastern and Southern Africa

By

Dr. Kassiap Deepchand, Sugar Technologist


Executive Summary

This report presents a review of the policy measures pertaining to energy generation from bagasse in Mauritius that have led to the implementation of a number of projects on firm power (using bagasse during the crop season and coal during the intercrop season) generation as well as continuous power (using bagasse during the crop season only) generation.  The policy measures include:

  1. Performance linked rebates on export duty payable by millers for efficiency in energy conservation to generate surplus bagasse and in energy generation, preferably, firm power.

  2. Income tax exemption on revenue derived from sale of power, and capital allowances in such investment.

  3. Raising of tax-free debentures.

  4. Centralisation of cane milling activities spelling out the guidelines for mills.

  5. Bagasse energy pricing.

In response to these incentives and policies, the sugar industry has implemented a number of measures to efficiently use energy in sugar cane processing.  Such measures include the enhancement of the calorific value of bagasse, reduction in power consumption in the prime movers of sugar manufacturing equipment, reduction in process heat consumption in juice heating and evaporation, adoption of continuous processes, factory computerisation and process automation.

The quantity of electricity exported by factory-located power plants rose from 70 GWh in 1988 to 225 GWh in 1998 when 7 continuous and 2 firm power plants were in operation.  The figure was expected to reach 360 GWh (or 62 kWh/tonne cane) with the commissioning of one 2x35 MW additional power plant.  The bagasse energy projects in Mauritius would then avoid the use of 215,000 tonnes of coal, the emission of 650,000 tonnes of CO2 and the generation of 35,000 tonnes of coal ash.

Implementation of cogeneration projects in Mauritius has enabled the country to diversify its energy base, rehabilitate, modernise and centralise cane milling activities, save on the fossil fuel import and, reduce the emission of greenhouse gases, mainly CO2.  Mauritius is now in a position to share its experience with other cane sugar producing countries where replication or adaptation of such energy projects could be considered for implementation.  A training programme sponsored by USAID/Winrock has already been organised for a team of sugar engineers and technologists from India at the initiative of the Mauritius Sugar Authority in collaboration with the Robert Antoine Sugar Industry Training Centre in Mauritius.

The potential of replication of such projects in the Eastern and Southern African Region on the basis of the Mauritian experience has been examined.  It has been estimated that the 16 million tonnes of bagasse generated annually in this region has the potential of generating about 5,500 GWh of electricity on the basis of the latest state-of-the art technology.

In order to embark on such projects, the policy of the governments in the region on renewable energy has to be clearly defined to enable both the sugar industry and public utility companies to negotiate power purchase agreements.  This will serve as the basis of initiating power plant projects.  It has been highlighted that each option chosen would require investments which may range from US$5 to 100 million, the latter investment sum being for the highest degree of sophistication.  Similarly, the manpower requirement will vary with the option chosen.

Electrical energy from bagasse is a commercially proven technology and its exploitation by sugarcane producing countries allows them to substitute a readily available renewable biomass for imported fossil fuel.  This results in economic benefits to the country, financial benefits to the sugar industry and positive environmental benefits in terms of reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

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