Wind Power Helping Seychelles Break Oil’s Hold

More and more islands are refusing to be held hostage by imported petroleum. From rich Hawaii to poor Dominican Republic to tiny Tokelau to historic Alcatraz, renewable energy is beginning to set islands free. Now add the Republic of Seychelles to the list.

The 115-island nation in the Indian Ocean has its first large-scale renewable energy project, an eight-turbine, 6-megawatt wind farm that spans two islands. Three kilometers of subsea cables move the energy produced by the turbines, which developer Masdar says are designed to work well in low-to-medium wind speeds and to be “resilient to corrosion from the salt and humidity of the ocean.”

seychelles wind power

image via Masdar and Abu Dhabi Fund for Development

So what do these wind turbines mean for Seychelles?  Masdar, the Abu Dhabi renewable energy company, said the Port Victoria Wind Farm “accounts for 8 percent of Mahé Island’s energy capacity – the main island of Seychelles – which is home to 90 percent of the country’s population.”

The turbines, then, will take a bit out of the Seychelles’ fuel purchases, which had accounted for a quarter of its net imports. The country has a goal of meeting 15 percent of its power generation needs by 2030.

For the Seychelles this is about improving its energy access and security, about being less subject to the whipsaw of oil prices.

There’s also a moral component to island nations turning to emissions free energy.   Thanks to “The Island President,” Mohamed Nasheed of Maldives, the wider world knows that climate change is a slowly unfolding catastrophe for many island nations. These island nations don’t have it in their own power to turn the tide on that front – their energy consumption is a drop in the ocean of global energy demand.

Yet the more these island nations can turn to renewables, the stronger their moral foundation in seeking change from the big powers in Asia, Europe and the Americas. At this point, it can be an expensive undertaking for what are often poor countries, but a little help – the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development managed and financed the Seychelles wind farm.

Sports columnist, newspaper desk guy, website managing editor, wine-industry PR specialist, freelance writer—Pete Danko’s career in media has covered a lot of terrain. The constant along the way has been a fierce dedication to knowing the story and getting it right. Danko's work has appeared in Wired, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.

  • Alec Sevins

    Has it occurred to anyone that wind turbines are ruining the scenery of that paradise? A similar proposal in the Hawaiian islands caused outrage. They already look out of place in just that one photo, and that’s in a relatively developed area. They tend to sprout up many miles from where the power is actually needed, expanding the human footprint ever farther into nature.

    • Pete Danko

      Nope, no reports yet of anyone thinking the turbines have ruined the scenery. But I’ll keep an ear out.

    • mk1313

      The buildings do more to ruin the scenery than the wind turbines!