International Perspectives

By Chris Caird, Unfolding Energy Summer Intern

To see the full story on this topic that appeared on July 5, 2015, click here

Cousin Island, a special conservation reserve became the third island in the Seychelles archipelago to become carbon neutral with the help of solar power. Three islands out of the 115 total in the Seychelles archipelago doesn’t seem like a great accomplishment but it’s a big step in the right direction, and there are many that feel the same way because the solar project on Cousin Island was partly funded by a crowdfunding website, Indiegogo.

330px-Cousin_island

Solar energy is an ideal energy source in this part of the globe because of a reliable sunny climate, taking away some of the problems associated with solar power. Issues such as intermittency of this technology usually doesn’t allow for a steady source of energy in most parts of the globe, but as electric storage keeps improving, expanded transmission capacity gets better, and operating costs keep dropping, the technology will only expand. These are issues why in the US or the UK, for example, we can’t simply switch over to rely on a power source like solar, even though in some US states, it is becoming a possibility but overall it’s not feasible yet and new and more efficient innovations are needed.

Incentives are required for encouragement of new innovations, or to simply give the general population a little push into an environmentally-friendly direction. This is something the Seychelles Minister of Environment, Energy and Climate Change, Didier Dogley is doing with plans to provide at least 5 megawatts of electricity to the island of Mahe, the most populated island of the archipelago. Keeping in mind the total population of the Seychelles is a little over 90,000, it’s hard to compare the numbers to what it would take to power the public demand of US population of almost 320 million. Crowdfunding on this scale seems unlikely as a dependable source of financial support but could be a model for community based solar projects and for rural towns with smaller populations or even residential buildings etc.

A few examples the Seychelles Islands president, James Michel is using to encourage the Seychellois population to use renewable energy:

  • Providing support (financial and technical) to homes that wish to install solar panels and granting subsidies to families that fall in certain categories.
  • Requiring new housing development to have solar panels installed with the support of the subsidies.
  • Providing incentives through a financial rebate scheme, allowing small businesses and private dwellings to invest in solar technology at a rebate of 35% on installation.

While the solar industry in the US is hot, it is also taking strong hold in other countries where the demand and the need for clean energy solutions is clearly on the rise. Examples like this demonstrate that solar PV applicability is boundless and with right incentives and support, it can meet the energy needs of tomorrow.

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