Following the problems encountered in carrying out its sanitation projects in Pailles and Grand-Baie, the Wastewater Management Authority is now considering implementing a solar farm project on one of its treatment sites.
It is an ambitious project that the Wastewater Management Authority (WMA) is considering. Too much ? The organization, which recently found itself entangled in difficulties on the Pailles and Grand-Baie construction sites, plans to turn to energy production, through the construction of a solar farm with a capacity of 9 megawatts.
This project will be carried out on a pilot basis at the St-Martin wastewater treatment plant, as part of a “Public-Private Partnership”. Beforehand, the WMA, which falls under the supervision of the Ministry of Public Utilities and Energy, will conduct a market study to identify potential and competent private parties. If this is successful, the WMA will sign a Power Supply and Purchase Agreement or connection agreement with the Central Electricity Board (CEB) and will receive an agreed rate for each unit of energy exported to the network.
The private developer will be required to supply its electricity to the CEB network on behalf of the WMA and will be remunerated on a monthly or annual basis for a specified period agreed with the WMA. This initiative by the WMA will ultimately contribute to increasing the share of renewable energy production in Mauritius.
If this first project is a success, the WMA plans to implement two similar projects at the Grand-Baie wastewater treatment plant and that of Mt Jacquot, with an estimated capacity of 6 MW and 4 MW respectively. However, this initiative has given rise to various comments, both within the CEB and from certain representatives of the Ministry of Public Services. Doubts are expressed in particular as to his technical capacity to supervise a project which does not directly fall within his competence.
Indeed, it is noted that the management of the WMA has recently encountered significant difficulties in carrying out its own sanitation projects. Some recall that the WMA was unable to properly supervise a project worth Rs 2.5 billion, for which it had already disbursed Rs 500 million; the project promoter finally abandoned the site. The WMA also encountered difficulties on another project, at a cost of Rs 979 million, in Pailles.
For his part, another source within the Ministry of Public Services does not hesitate to mention the project of Corexsolar International Ltd, which won a contract from the CEB for the development of a solar farm worth Rs 5 billion under suspicious conditions. This project is also the subject of an investigation by the Independent Commission against Corruption. Thus, some point out that after the failure of CorexSolar, the ministry seems to be rushing things in order to be able to present a solar farm project before the end of the mandate in 2024.
The Labor Party (PTr) deputy and responsible for the energy file points out that “there are already two projects in Pailles and Grand-Baie that the board of directors has not been able to complete. In Pailles, nearly Rs 600 million have not yet been paid, and in Grand-Baie, it is almost Rs 700 million.” Patrick Assirvaden also addresses the Corexsolar project, which he describes as an unprecedented scandal, marked by total opacity. “Aren’t we at risk of wasting public funds once again? » he asks.