A 200 kWp SUNfarming Food & Energy Agrisolar Training Centre was inaugurated, on 26 August 2023, over an area of 4,500 m at Gros Cailloux, in the presence of the Minister of Energy and Public Utilities, Mr Georges Pierre Lesjongard, the Minister of Environment, Solid Waste Management and Climate Change, Mr Kavydass Ramano, and other eminent personalities.
SUNfarming Africa’s project has been implemented as part of the National Scheme for Emerging/Innovative Renewable Energy Technologies by the Mauritius Renewable Energy Authority. This project will contribute to the green energy transition as well as improve local food and job security in the region, and eventually the whole country.
In his address, Minister Lesjongard underlined that the concept of agri PV is an innovative approach that has the potential to transform the socioeconomic and environmental landscape of the country. Government, he added, endeavours to create a synergy where agricultural productivity and renewable energy generation harmoniously coexist. By utilising solar panels alongside agricultural fields, we are optimising our land usage, producing clean energy, and cultivating our soil sustainably, he stated.
Speaking about the renewable energy agenda of the Central Electricity Board (CEB), he said that it has already launched a unique, tailor-made scheme for the decarbonisation of the industrial sector. He added that the current feed-in tariff of Rs 3.73/kwh under the CEB Renewable Energy schemes will be revised to Rs 4.20/kwh, where required. Moreover, the process for application will be further streamlined and made more customer-friendly as CEB goes online with its application form, he indicated.
For his part, Minister Ramano observed that the solution to climate challenges will be defined by our capability to innovate and rethink the way we use our resources. He thus opined that agri-voltaic is an innovative way to address this issue as it makes simultaneous use of land for solar energy production and agriculture practices. Agri-voltaic could be a solution to both decarbonise the electricity mix and enhance food security, he said.
Speaking about the impacts of climate change on Small Island Developing States such as Mauritius, he recalled that Government has committed to an unconditional share of 35% of the USD 6.5 billion required as financial needs by 2030. This amounts to USD 2.3 billion and comprises funding from the national budget and private sector investment.
In the last fiscal year, he pointed out that Government has approved some 1,400 projects, representing 136 Megawatt of renewable energy and 7% of our country’s electricity consumption. Through the national budget, Government is investing some USD 45 million, representing around 6% of GDP on a yearly basis. Additionally, Government is mobilising significant resources every year to support climate change mitigation and adaptation as well as to promote sustainable development, he said.
This agrivoltaic project combines high quality photovoltaic electricity generation and food production facilities (bio-horticulture and vegetable production by drip irrigation).
SUNfarming has designed special Food & Energy systems, made in Germany, that enable the cultivation of plants underneath solar panels, which will be installed at Gros Cailloux.
This unique plant will be used as a research and training platform in collaboration with local partners in the field of modern agriculture and solar renewable energy.
The plant is planned to start injecting energy into the CEB medium voltage network by the end of July 2023.
The SUNfarming Group is based in Germany and has installed more than 600 MWp of solar projects worldwide over 1,000 hectares. SUNfarming Africa, the subsidiary of the SUNfarming Group in Mauritius, is aiming to develop unique solar projects in the Indian Ocean, notably in Mauritius and Madagascar.