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Life cycle assessment of electricity generation in Mauritius

Brizmohun, Ravina, Ramjeawon, Toolseeram, Azapagic, Adisa
Journal of cleaner production 2015 v.106 pp. 565-575
acidification, carbon, carbon dioxide, coal, electric generators, electricity, emissions, energy, environmental impact, eutrophication, freshwater, fuel oils, global warming, humans, issues and policy, life cycle assessment, oxidants, ozonosphere, power plants, solar energy, sugarcane bagasse, toxicity, water power, wind power, Mauritius
Electricity demand in Mauritius is growing rapidly but its environmental implications are as yet unknown. This is the topic of the current paper which presents for the first time the life cycle environmental impacts of electricity generation in Mauritius aiming to inform electricity generators and policy makers on how the impacts could be reduced. The majority of country's electricity is generated from fossil fuels, with coal contributing 40% and fuel oil 37%; the rest is from sugarcane bagasse (19%) and hydro-power (4%). The results suggest that electricity from oil has the highest impacts for six out of ten categories considered compared to the other three sources: acidification, freshwater, terrestrial and human toxicity, ozone layer depletion and photochemical oxidants. The remaining four impacts (depletion of resources, global warming, eutrophication and marine toxicity) are highest for coal. The lowest impacts are found for electricity from hydro-power. For example, the global warming potential (GWP) of electricity from coal is estimated at 1444 kg CO2 eq./MWh and for oil 754 kg CO2 eq./MWh, while for bagasse and hydro-power this impact is several orders of magnitude lower (29 and 8.6 kg CO2 eq./MWh, respectively). Oil and coal are the main contributors to the overall impacts from electricity in Mauritius (88%–99%). The contribution of bagasse is small (<1%–12%) and that from hydro-power negligible (<0.1%). The GWP of the electricity mix is estimated at 868 kg CO2 eq./MWh. This is equivalent to the annual GWP of 2.22 Mt CO2 eq. in 2012, an increase of 16% since 2007. To reduce its carbon emissions, Mauritius should consider reducing the share of fossil fuels through increased use of renewables such as solar PV and wind as well as improving the efficiency of the fossil power plants and reducing energy demand.