ABU DHABI: The Republic of Seychelles moved a step closer to realizing its clean energy ambitions with the inauguration of a UAE-funded 5-megawatt (MW) solar photovoltaic (PV) plant with battery storage, the second clean-energy project in the African island nation.

Developed by Masdar and the Seychelles’ Public Utilities Corporation (PUC), the Ile de Romainville Solar Park was financed by Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD), one of the UAE’s leading development-financing institutions owned by the Abu Dhabi government. The project inauguration was attended by Khalifa Abdulla Al Qubaisi, Deputy Director General of ADFD, Ahmed Afif, Vice President of the Republic of Seychelles, Flavien Joubert, Minister for Agriculture, Climate Change and Energy of the Republic of Seychelles, Joel Valmont, the Chief Executive of PUC, Dr. Ibraheem Almansouri, Head of Engineering at Masdar and Simon Bräuniger, Senior Manager, Project Management Services at Masdar.

The facilities include the 5 MW solar PV plant located in Ile de Romainville, a 3.3 MWh energy storage system located on Mahé, and a 33kV system that allows for the safe and stable supply of electricity from the PV power plant to the main island of Mahé which, further, increases the resilience of the national grid of the Seychelles. It is estimated that the project will save approximately 2 million liters of fuel annually and offset 6,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Mohamed Saif Al Suwaidi, Director General, ADFD, said: “We are proud to be able to deliver on our commitment to driving energy transition in Seychelles, thanks to our strong and enduring partnership that goes back to 1979. By saving about 2,000,000 liters of fossil fuel annually, Ile de Romainville solar PV plant will enable the country to significantly reduce its carbon footprint, provide a wide range of benefits to its people and empower small businesses. Moreover, the project will also make energy more affordable and accessible to the population. The inauguration of the plant also validates ADFD’s sustained efforts to promote the widespread adoption of renewable energy in developing countries.”

Mohammed Jameel Al Ramahi, Chief Executive Officer, Masdar, said, “Masdar is proud to deliver another renewable energy project to Seychelles in support of the country’s energy independence and renewable energy goals. With the inauguration of the Ile de Romainville Solar Park, Seychelles can further reduce its reliance on fossil fuels and displace around 6,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually. We thank the ADFD, PUC, and the government of Seychelles for enabling this project.”

Joel Valmont, Chief Executive, PUC, added, “This is one bold step taken by the Public Utilities Corporation towards the stewardship of deploying medium to large scale renewables plants in the main islands of Seychelles. The successful realization of this project instills confidence and valuable experience which will help towards the pursuit of environmental sustainability for the country. This achievement has strengthened the corporation in its ability to accomplish greater development of renewables in the power sector.”

The Ile de Romainville Solar Park was constructed on the same island hosting several wind turbines from ADFD and Masdar’s first project in the Seychelles, the Port Victoria Wind Farm, which has been operational since 2013. The park’s PV array was specifically designed to maximize the use of available land, while allowing for the maintenance of the wind turbines and minimizing any shading losses resulting from them.

The park is part of the ADFD and International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) Project Facility. ADFD has committed US$350 million in concessionary loans over seven funding cycles to support the establishment of renewable energy projects in developing countries.

Seychelles heavily relies on fossil fuels to meet its electricity demand, with fossil fuels accounting for around 20 percent of the country’s imports. The country has set a target of 5 percent renewables by 2020 and 15 percent by 2030.