Renewable energy is sweet.
Mauritius, an island nation in the Indian Ocean over 700 miles from the coast of Madagascar, is working to get rid of fossil fuels by replacing them with sugar.
The island has historically relied on imported petroleum as fuel but is finding that their main cash-crop is providing a reliable, more economical option.
Once a sugar cane stalk has been squeezed of all the juice used in sugar production, a pile of dry, pulpy sticks and stalks remain. These leftovers – known as bagasse – are then burned to generate power, and already accounts for 14 percent of the island’s energy needs.
After factoring in the area’s solar, wind and hydro capabilities, nearly a quarter of Mauritius’ daily consumption are provided by renewable resources. And the government hopes that 35 percent of the island will run on renewable sources by 2025.
“The 35 percent is not far off. We will have 11 solar parks by next year and at least two wind farms,” Ivan Collendavello, Mauritius’ deputy prime minister, told the Agence France-Press (AFP).
But sugar, the nation’s main cash crop, is expected to continue leading the charge towards a more environmentally friendly future. Currently, four of the island’s sugar companies run their own thermal power station – together generating up to 60 percent of the island’s electricity.
At each plant, the bagasse stalks are fed into the thermal stations, where they burn up at 932 degrees Fahrenheit and are used to fuel both the plants themselves as well as the national grid.