The Republic of Seychelles is among many small island nations that will be affected by rising oceans due to climate change. Add the fact the Seychelles relies imports all of its energy needs, including dirty diesel fuel, and the need for the tourism-dependent country to develop alternative sources of fuel is dire. So, in walks a Middle East country known far more for oil and gas to launch the Seychelles’ largest clean energy project.
Masdar, the Abu-Dhabi-based renewable energy company, in a partnership with the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD), turned on the switch of the Port Victoria Wind Farm project yesterday. These wind turbines in the middle of the Indian Ocean are another example of how the United Arab Emirates and other Gulf countries are making a slow yet notable shift towards renewables in the long run–and becoming sizable foreign investors and aid donors in their own right.
The six-megawatt wind power farm, which ADFD funded, includes eight turbines. The turbines are dispersed between two different islands and are linked by 1.8 miles (3 kilometers) of undersea cables. According to a Masdar press release, the clean energy the Port Victoria project will generate will offset 5,500 tons of carbon, eliminate the need for 423,000 gallons of diesel and power over 2,100 homes annually on Mahé Island. Mahé, home to 90 percent of the country’s population, is also where the capital of Victoria is located.
“Sustainability” on Mahé is so far limited to the bevy of hotels that claim they are eco-friendly; land reclamation projects over the years are among the many environmental challenges the country faces. The wind turbines will provide about eight percent of the island’s needs; the entire country has set a goal of 15 percent of energy from renewables by 2013. So while a robust clean energy portfolio is a long way off, this small country has already taken a huge step.
The launch of the Port Victoria project comes four years after the Seychelles government studied potential wind power projects on Mahé and surrounding islands. The nation’s leadership has long been vocal about the potential dangers of climate change; so while the Seychelles cannot control what the world’s largest carbon emitting nations do or not do about global warming and renewables, now this country of 88,000 can at least say it is doing something about this uphill fight.
The wind farm in the Seychelles, meanwhile, is yet another project in Masdar’s growing global renewable energy portfolio. Masdar opened a solar power plant in Mauritania earlier this year, and additional projects in Afghanistan and the south Pacific island nation of Tonga are on the drawing board. Plus, Masdar has launched an enormous solar power farm in the UAE as well as a desalination plant fueled by renewables. Indeed, Masdar continues to matter.
Based in Fresno, California, Leon Kaye is the editor of GreenGoPost.com and frequently writes about business sustainability strategy. Leon also contributes to Guardian Sustainable Business; his work has also appeared on Sustainable Brands, Inhabitat and Earth911. You can follow Leon and ask him questions on Twitter or Instagram (greengopost).
[Image credit: Masdar]