Is a greener Mauritius possible?
December 7, 2014
I just finished reading the book Hot, Flat and Crowded by Thomas L. Friedman which speaks about global warming, rapidly growing populations, and the expansion of the world’s middle class through globalization which have produced a dangerously unstable planet–one that is “hot, flat, and crowded.” He also shows how the very habits that led us to ravage the natural world led to the meltdown of the financial markets and the Great Recession. The challenge of a sustainable way of life presents the United States with an opportunity not only to rebuild its economy, but to lead the world in radically innovating toward cleaner energy. And it could inspire Americans to something they haven’t seen in a long time–nation-building in America–by summoning the intelligence, creativity, and concern for the common good that are their greatest national resources.
This book is a concern not only for USA but the world and he does also speak about China and ways they are implementing to become more greener. The book has details that go till the year 2008 and I wonder now that we are close to 2015 how things have worsened or improved. For the US I can only recall electric cars made by Tesla. Else I’m not aware of any green revolution taking place? Can you add some infos in comments at the bottom if you know of any great green projects taking place in the USA? Just yesterday I saw someone on Twitter post how happy she was to get a gallon of gas for just $1.99. Now that doesn’t go in line of a green revolution!
Well what is mentioned in this book also concerns Mauritius. The ending of my read coincides with a letter that arrived today where the government of Mauritius encourages in two flyers its population to be more savy.
Now with the very hot summer active, power consumption increases tremendously in Mauritius because of the use of air conditioners. Also check the website of CEB for more details about electricity in Mauritius.
As from November when I start using one air con at home, the electricity bill doubles at the end of the month. And this is just one air con. This hot season will last for around 6 months. The fridge also runs non stop. I have a new quest after reading that book to try to find a new fridge that is more silent and economical. I also try to use less the air con. But you can only imagine, a lot of households not only have one aircon but several. And then in addition to that Mauritius has a big hotel industry where EACH bedroom benefits from air conditioning and in many cases tourists use these recklessly. How can I tell? Well, whenever I meet especially beach villas owner they do complain that the way tourists use the air con leads to very high bills as they just leave them on all day, even if they aren’t in the property. Yes, the owners do tell their clients to use energy efficiently, leave behind flyers how to use them, but still, tourists once they arrive in Mauritius tend to take everything for granted and act recklessly as if Mauritius and their homeland exist on two segregated planets! Therefore I do make an appeal to anyone reading this, be cautious with your air conditioning use and also don’t just leave the roof fan running all day long with the idea of keeping the heat out! …Also in your car, pull down your window instead of using the air con, you would save a lot on fuel!
Hotels have some smart systems in place where the client enters the room with a card, and only when the card is used, the air con gets activated, and then they leave the room, all systems shut down. This helps to reduce energy wasted. Which is also something the hotel has to pay for, its also in their interest to save energy.
From the book it is clear that we, on the whole planet, if we do not change our energy consumption habits are heading towards an ecological disaster. In Mauritius we have the concept called MID Maurice Ile Durable which stands for Mauritius Sustainable Island.
One can recall actions such as the subvention of solar water heaters in the past. I invested in a solar water heater, changing from an electrical water heater that was increasing the electricity bill by around a Rs.1000 – 2000 per month. After 5 years of use, now, I have the money back in that would have gone to CEB to pay for the electrical water heater. Mauritius is a developing country, meaning that a large part of the population will not have the means to invest alone in expensive energy efficient or energy producing devices if there is no incentive from the state. By this I also wish to state that most houses built in Mauritius, are not built in an ecological way but built strong, with heavy large bricks and concrete to withhold cyclones. A lot of houses are like little bunkers!
If we would build houses mainly out of wood, this will not only require a lot of wood (means cutting down forests) for a population of around 1.3 million but also not last very long as Mauritius has a very tough climate. Very humid, very strong sun and the ravaging cyclones that visit the island. What we need for the future are solid ecological homes with good air circulation and the possibility to cool down at night. I live in Grand Baie in a concrete house and at night it remains hot till the following day, meaning over night in summer, its quite unbearable to sleep without using at least a fan even though the windows are open. If you step out of the house, you will notice that climate wise it is very comfortable and not extremely hot. So we have an issue with our houses and people will keep on using air conditioners.
According to Joël de Rosnay in an interview with l’express the amount of energy Mauritius requires is peanuts, its just a quarter of energy that a nuclear power plant produces. What Mauritius needs is a smart energy grid where the energy comes from various sources, sun, sea, wind, etc. This is probably easier said than done. We have seen so far a few green projects emerge such as a solar farm a wind farm currently under production also check here to get a full project overview, especially the PDF files. Mauritius has a lot of sun and yet we are very far behind to compared to our neighbour Ile de la Reunion who are aiming to: 100% Renewable Electricity by 2020, Energy Autonomy With Renewables by 2030.