A wind farm under
construction in
Madagascar
 
Antananarivo, Madagascar “’ ESI-AFRICA.COM — 23 February 2012 – Madagascar is aiming to plug its energy gap, and at the same time to reduce its carbon emissions, by encouraging a major investment in large-scale wind-turbines, the country’s interim president, Andry Rajoelina, has announced.

“An additional 50 megawatts (MW) could be available from wind power by the end of the year,” he says. Unofficial figures put the cost of the initiative at US$80 million.

But the project has faced criticism from local experts who claim the country has better renewable energy options.

To push the wind project forward, a special unit has been established in the office of the president, and the government will halve taxes in the 2012/13 financial year on imported equipment such as rotors for wind turbines to attract private sector involvement. The tax benefits will extend to hydropower turbines and solar panels, but the main thrust of the government’s move is focused on expanding the wind energy sector.

Rajoelina said technologies currently used to produce electricity on the island were outdated and environmentally hazardous because of carbon emissions and pollution.

More than 110 diesel power stations currently supply 296.5MW of the total installed capacity of 428.1MW, according to Jiro sy Rano Malagasy “’ the national water and electricity company. The Energy Options for Madagascar conference held in Antananarivo in December, heard that Madagascar’s electricity need is expected to reach 700MW by 2030.

Futhermore, about 95% of households rely on firewood for cooking, resulting in large-scale deforestation.

Both factors have led the government to announce the need for a major investment in wind energy to meet the country’s energy needs. But some have questioned its belief that this can be done through installing large wind turbines.

“Wind energy is not a realistic solution for us. It is not suitable for local conditions,” said Minoson Rakotomalala, a renewable energy expert at the University of Antananarivo.