Seychelles takes next step in renewable energy future with solar industry training programme |11 May 2022
As part of Seychelles’ fight against climate change and mission to achieve a 15% renewable energy supply by 2030, the British High Commission, in partnership with Gridworks, has launched a solar industry capacity-building programme.
This was last week at the British high commissioner’s residence at Bel Air.
The programme presents an opportunity for local technicians to acquire the necessary expertise, and knowledge to maintain solar photovoltaic (PV) systems and expand Seychelles’ renewable energy options.
The launch was attended by the Minister for Agriculture, Climate Change and Energy, Flavien Joubert, Minister for Investment, Entrepreneurship and Industry Devika Vidot, the vice-chancellor of the University of Seychelles (UniSey) Joëlle Perreau, the chief executive of the Seychelles Energy Commission Tony Imaduwa, as well as other key figures connected to renewable energy and capacity-building.
The initiative will be delivered by Gridworks, the United Kingdom (UK) government’s investor in Africa’s electricity training programme and solar industry experts from one of Gridworks’ portfolio companies, the Pan-African solar energy business, Sustainable Power Solutions (SPS).
SPS has used UK funding to build a number of solar power projects and battery storage facilities in Seychelles, bringing cleaner, cheaper electricity to the outer islands, and reducing diesel consumption by around 85%, or 1.7 million litres a year.
Commenting on the launch of the training programme, High Commissioner Patrick Lynch said: “The renewable energy training programme we are launching today is another example of the partnership between Britain and Seychelles to fight climate change and move towards a green energy transition. By providing Seychellois with the skills to work in the fast-growing solar power sector, we are helping local experts move the country away from expensive, polluting fuels and open up job opportunities and economic growth in the local community.”
The chief executive of Gridworks, Simon Hodson for his part added that “Gridworks is delighted to be launching a training programme that will bring practical, useful skills to help the local community shape the country’s renewable energy future. Seychelles has played no part in the climate change crisis that it faces, but the country is showing leadership to the rest of the world in trying to cut its emissions.
“The work of our investee company, SPS, has so far focused on the outer islands of Desroches, Astove, Alphonse and Farquhar, but the biggest challenge for Seychelles lies in reducing fossil fuel use on the main islands of Mahe, Praslin and La Digue where diesel consumption is almost 60 times bigger. Gridworks and SPS are open to exploring new ways to help Seychelles meet its climate ambitions.”
The training programme will begin in June with a week-long, ‘beginner level’ course aimed at those with little or no prior knowledge of solar PV. This course will cover key principles, including PV system components and their functions, installation best practices, and operations and maintenance. The first course will focus on on-grid systems (embedded generation), with a second, more advanced course being offered three months later. The second course will focus on off-grid systems (battery storage technology).
Gridworks and the British high commission anticipate that the target group for the training course will include technicians with an electrical background, engineers (electrical, electronic, mechanical or similar) or students with a strong interest in working in Seychelles’ solar energy sector. Subsequent courses are expected to focus on financial training for officials at the Seychelles Energy Commission and the Ministry of Finance, National Planning and Trade.
Like many other small islands developing states, Seychelles faces high power costs resulting from its dependency on traditional fossil fuels. It has adopted ambitious targets for renewables – 15% of power demand to be met by renewables in 2030 ‒ and energy efficiency, in line with the Paris Agreement. These targets, and the need to diversify energy supply, mean that the country’s renewable energy sector and the solar-power industry, in particular, are likely to grow rapidly and provide job opportunities and other economic benefits.
SPS is a distribution renewable energy company that provides solar energy and battery storage solutions to commercial and industrial customers across sub-Saharan Africa. Gridworks investment in SPS has enabled SPS to build four solar power projects in Seychelles, with a total 3.5MW capacity/ 7.4MWh battery storage. These include three projects delivered in 2021, despite the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, on Desroches, Farquhar and Astove islands.
Working alongside the Islands Development Company (IDC), the SPS’ projects have brought consistent power supply and reduced diesel consumption by around 85%. The company is also developing a solar plant for the Indian Ocean Tuna’s processing facility on Mahe, which is the largest energy user in Seychelles. The SPS expects its Seychelles solar systems to save 125,000 tonnes of carbon emissions over the next 20 years.