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BAGASSE ENERGY COGENERATION IN MAURITIUS

By

KASSIAP DEEPCHAND


Executive Summary

In this Report, a review is presented of the policy measures with respect to energy generation from bagasse that have induced the implementation of a number of projects on firm power (using bagasse during crop and coal during intercrop) generation as well as continuous power (using bagasse during crop period only) generation.  The policy measures include issues like firstly 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; secondly, income tax exemption on revenue derived from sale of power, and capital allowances in such investment; thirdly, raising of tax free debentures; fourthly, centralisation of cane milling activities spelling out the guidelines for mill closure and lastly, bagasse energy pricing.

In response to these incentives and policies, the sugar industry implemented a number of measures to use energy efficiently 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 sugar factory located power plant (one firm and 2 continuous power plants) from 70 GWh in 1988 to 225 GWh in 1998 when 7 continuous and 2 firm power plants were in operation.  The figure will reach 360 GWh (or 62 kWh/tonne cane) with the commissioning of one 2x35 MW additional power plant in year 2000.  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.  In the longer term when the target of 110 kWh/tonne cane would be reached, the figures will be 375,000 tonnes of coal, 1,130,000 tonnes of CO2 and 60,000 tonnes of coal ash.

Implementation of such projects in Mauritius has enabled the country to diversify its energy base, the rehabilitation, modernisation and centralisation of cane milling activities, save on the fossil fuel import and, more importantly 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 Southern and Eastern African Region on the basis of the Mauritian experience has been worked out.  It has been estimated that the 50 million tonnes of cane processed annually in this region has the potential of between 2,500 to 5,500 GWh of electricity depending on the operating mode of the sugar factory located power plants.  Such projects are especially attractive in that it will enable rural electrification and positive impact on the quality of life of the rural population.

In order to embark on such projects, the policy of Government on renewable energy has to be clearly defined which will enable both the sugar industry and public utility company to negotiate a power purchase agreement.  This will serve as the basis to initiate a power plant project.  It has been highlighted that each option chosen would require investments which may range from US$5 to 100 million, the latter having the highest degree of sophistication.  Similarly the manpower requirement will vary with the option chosen.

It may be concluded that electrical energy from bagasse is a commercially proven technology and its exploitation by this route by cane sugar producing countries allows them to substitute a readily available renewable biomass for imported fossil fuel, with ensuing economic benefit to the country, financial benefits to the sugar industry and positive environmental benefits in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and global warming.


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