Paul Bérenger : « Avec CT Power le pays sera dépendant du charbon pendant 50 ans encore»

PNQ La Private Notice Question du leader de l’opposition, adressée au ministre Beebeejaun, le vendredi 22 novembre, était axée sur la production de l’énergie électrique et le projet CT Power. Paul Bérenger a d’abord voulu  savoir si le Central Electricity Board (CEB) a prévu des mesures concrètes en ce qui concerne la production et la fourniture d’énergie électrique notamment durant les périodes de pointe et si les mesures de sécurité respectent les normes. Ensuite il a demandé à ce dernier quand de nouvelles unités de production d’électricité entreront en opération. Finalement il a interrogé le ministre sur le projet CT Power.

 Dans sa réponse, le ministre a donné la garantie qu’il n’y aura pas de blackout dans le pays, le CEB ayant pris les  mesures nécessaires, selon lui. « Le CEB dispose des services d’un département spécialisé pour les prévisions dans la demande d’électricité en se basant sur la tendance de la consommation ou encore la croissance économique. Le CEB se fie à des modèles éprouvés de l’International Atomic Energy Agency pour les besoins de ces analyses. La Peak Demand est de 447 MW pour 2013 et de 461 MW pour 2014 », a-t-il ajouté. Mais il a confirmé que les moteurs Sulzer de la station thermique de Fort Victoria fonctionnent à régime réduit, soit en raison des fissures décelées récemment ou des travaux de maintenance.

Le leader de l’opposition s’est dit préoccupé par le fait qu’avec le feu vert du gouvernement pour le projet de centrale de 100 MW à Pointe-aux-Caves, la décision stratégique de mettre à exécution le projet de Liquefied Natural Gas, une démarche d’avenir que ce soit sur le plan du coût ou environnemental, pourrait souffrir. Il est d’avis qu’avec CT Power Ltd, le pays sera dépendant du charbon pour produire de l’électricité pendant 50 ans encore.

Lire la PNQ dans son intégralité


The Leader of the Opposition (Mr P. Bérenger) (by Private Notice) asked the Deputy
Prime Minister, Minister of Energy and Public Utilities whether, in regard to electricity, he will –
(a) for the benefit of the House, obtain from the Central Electricity Board,
information as to –
(i) the 2013 and 2014 expected –
A. peak demand therefor, and
B. effective production capacity thereof, indicating the safety reserve
capacity margin thereof and the share therein of Pielstick and Sulzer
engines and gas turbines;
(ii) the time frame within which new production units therefor will come into
operation, and
(b) state the coal, coal/bagasse, renewable energy and  Liquefied Natural Gas energy
mix being proposed for the production thereof in the medium and long terms  
respectively, indicating where matters stand as to the CT  Power Project.
The Deputy Prime Minister: Mr Speaker Sir, the Central Electricity Board (CEB) has a
specialised Corporate Planning Department to, inter alia, carry out its integrated electricity
planning and demand forecasting, taking into account the economic development and major
projects in the country.   For this purpose, the CEB makes use of models developed by the IAEA,
which are internationally recognised and widely used.
With respect to part (a) of the question, the CEB has forecast peak demand as follows –
2013 : 447 MW
2014 : 461 MW

In reply to the Private Notice Question of 19 April 2011, I informed the House that the
peak demand forecast for the years 2013 and 2014 would be 450 MW and 464 MW respectively.
This was in my answer in 2011.
In fact, Mr Speaker, Sir, demand registered so far in 2013 is 439 MW, which is in line
with the forecast.
Part (a) (i) B
• The effective available production capacity for both 2013 and 2014 is 565 MW.
• With the forecast figures of peak demand of 447 MW in 2013 and 461 MW in
2014, the safety reserve capacity margin is 118 MW and 104 MW respectively.
• This safety reserve capacity margin provides for an allowance of 60 MW for
scheduled maintenance, and 37 MW – I repeat, 37 MW – in case of breakdown of
the biggest unit.
• The share of the different power stations for both 2013 and 2014 are as follows –
St Louis Pielstick 25
St Louis Wartsila 39
Fort Georges Sulzer 40
Fort Georges MAN 87
Nicolay Gas Turbines 72
Fort Victoria 100
Hydro 25
IPPs 177

I am informed by the CEB that one Sulzer engine is presently running at a capacity of 16
MW.  This engine will be subject to repairs at the end of this month until mid December.
The second engine is currently under repairs for structural cracks, and will be back in
service by the end of this month.
On account of these repairs, the safety reserve capacity margin until mid December 2013
would be, at least, 94 MW.  As from 15 December 2013, with both repaired engines back in
service, the safety reserve capacity margin would be 110 MW in 2013, and 96 MW in 2014.
With regard to the Pielstick engines, I am also informed by the CEB that five engines are
currently being operated at only 40% of their initial rated capacity, with an output of 25 MW.  In
this mode, the engines have no operational risks, as they are run for only a few hours daily, and
sometimes not at all.  Their contribution in the overall electricity generation is minimal, at less
than 2% of total generation.
The effective contribution of the gas turbines is still 72 MW.  These units are planned to
operate to a maximum of 150 hours a year because of high running costs at around
Part (a) (ii)
Mr Speaker Sir, based on the demand forecast, the CEB has phased its generation
expansion plan, which includes both firm power and renewable energy projects as follows –
(i) Redevelopment of St Louis Power Station by the installation of 4 x 15 MW, to be
operational by the end 2015, as announced in the Budget;
(ii) CT Power Project of 100 MW, to be operational by end of 2016;
(iii) Wind Farm at Plaine Sophie of 29.4 MW, to be operational by end of 2015;
(iv) Wind Farm of 9 MW at Plaine des Roches (EOLE), formerly Aerowatt, expected
to be operational by the end 2015.
(v) Solar PV Farm at Bambous of 15 MW, expected to be operational in January
2014, and
(vi) Solar PV Farm at five locations, each of 2 MW, expected to be operational by

Mr Speaker, Sir, with regard to part (b) of the question, the long term energy strategy
2009-2025, approved by Government in 2009, provides for the medium to long term energy
security by diversifying the energy mix, so as to reduce dependency on fossil fuels.
The energy mix targets by 2025 are as follows –
Coal – 40%
Fuel Oil – 25%
Renewable Energy – 35%
Mr Speaker, Sir, the objective of Government is to increasingly use renewable energy.  
By 2015, an additional 64 MW of renewable energy capacity will be on the grid.
However, in the absence of commercially viable storage technologies, the characteristics
of renewable energy remain intermittency and lack of predictability and, therefore, the need for
back-up facilities.
As technologies improve and the cost of renewable energy decreases, penetration is
expected to accelerate.
As regards LNG, a study is being undertaken by the Consultant Worley and Parsons of
South Africa to assess its viability both for electricity generation and transportation.  The report
is expected by April 2014.
Mr Speaker, Sir, actually, at the CEB, there are 150 MW operating on fuel oil,
convertible to LNG.  The long-term strategy is to substitute coal and heavy fuel by LNG which is
a cleaner fuel.
With regard to coal and bagasse, I am advised that the CEB has not received any proposal
for new projects.  However, the CEB has recently received a proposal from Consolidated Energy
Limited (CEL), to operate the existing plant solely on coal as from 2014-2015, giving an
additional capacity of 10 MW during the crop season.  This is subject to Deep River Beau
Champ ceasing its sugarcane milling activities by the end 2013.

As regards the CT-Power, I am informed that the CEB is presently updating the Power
Purchase Agreement and other related Agreements in the light of the conditions in the EIA
licence.  The Agreements are expected to be finalised by the end of this year.  The plant is
expected to be operational by the end of 2016.
Mr Bérenger: I did not get all the figures which the hon. Deputy Prime Minister gave us
on part (i) of my question, Mr Speaker, Sir. If I heard correctly, the peak demand is expected to
reach 440 MW this year and 461 MW next year.  I tried to get the figures for the safety margin, it
was not easy. Am I right in saying that the safety margin is being arrived at, by withdrawing
from total capacity the biggest unit which the hon. Deputy Prime Minister mentioned, 37 MW,
60 MW for maintenance,   which is the practice worldwide and has been the practice in
Mauritius until now,  but also a 10% spin safety. Therefore, my question is: are the three
elements being taken into consideration when we have the safety margin and, if not, why not, if
yes, when the three are taken into consideration, what is – can I ask again – the safety margin for
this year and next year?
The Deputy Prime Minister: Mr Speaker, Sir, traditionally, we have talked about
spinning reserve and safety margin and so on. But, the spinning reserve which is an arbitrary
figure, varies from country to country; Reunion is different from Mauritius, it is less. In
Mauritius, we have never used this spinning reserve for peak. We have used it, on the contrary,
below the peak. So, the spinning reserve is just a term that has been used for years and never
used it.
Mr Bérenger: Could the hon. Deputy Prime Minister agree with me that, in fact, this has
been the practice, until today, in Mauritius, until we are presented with today’s figures – and is
the practice worldwide – that we extract the biggest unit, we extract figure for maintenance and
we have a spinning safety reserve of 10%? Is it not a fact that this has been the practice in
Mauritius and is the practice worldwide?
The Deputy Prime Minister: Mr Speaker, Sir, I repeat, it has been   on the books, but
never practised.
Mr Bérenger: But then, if we leave out this 10% spinning reserve, can we have the
figure for the safety margin for this year and next year, and then we will work in the 10%
spinning safety margin?

The Deputy Prime Minister: I will repeat the answer.  With the forecast figures of peak
demand of 447 MW and 461 MW in 2013 and 2014, the safety reserve capacity margin is 118
MW and 104 MW respectively.  Then you deduct the 60 MW and 37 MW, which are for
breakdown and 37 for the biggest unit provided for. But, as I have said last year, in the previous
PNQ, the schedule maintenance is flexible.
Mr Bérenger: And now we have the figures, but we will have to work in the 10%
spinning reserve which, as I said, has been the practice in Mauritius and is the practice
worldwide. Is the hon. Deputy Prime Minister confirming that those figures of production
capacity include very unreliable elements, the Pielstick engines and the Sulzer engines, all
adding up to 68 MW, and that it is very dangerous to rely on these very old – and some in danger
of exploding – engines, a very dangerous situation having been reached, that the safety margin,
therefore, includes these very outdated engines?
The Deputy Prime Minister: The Pielstick will be at a commission in two years’ time
and they are running satisfactorily. They are not the best available, but they are there and they
are being used, as I said, to the minimal for peak demand. So, it is very minimal, I don’t think we
should exaggerate its presence here.
Mr Bérenger: I did not hear the hon. Deputy Prime Minister giving us figures for the
usage of gas turbine. As we know, Mr Speaker, Sir, it costs us some Rs22 per unit as far as gas
turbine is concerned, compared to Rs4.66 for CEB and Rs3.44 for IPPs (Independent Power
Producers). Can we know what is the frequency of the use of the gas turbines these days, and
especially at the end of the year, when we will reach the peak demand?
The Deputy Prime Minister: Mr Speaker, Sir, the Nicolay Gas Turbine of 74 MW is
used every year up to a certain capacity and this year it is no different from the others. Up to
now, it is about 150 hours. In the past, it has been 200 hours, it has been 135 hours; it’s varied.
There was a time when the bill came up to Rs400 m. and it is not with this Government.
Mr Bérenger: Taking everything in consideration, including the 10% spinning margin
which I referred to and, we say, should be taken into consideration, is the Deputy Prime Minister
in a position to give the guarantee – because only last night, there were cuts all over the place and
it is being occurring regularly – to the country that, when we reach peak period at the end of this
year, there will be no power cuts, there will be no power shortage?

The Deputy Prime Minister: Mr Speaker, Sir, I can most emphatically give the
guarantee that there will be no shortage, there will be no power cut. From what the hon. Leader
of the Opposition has said, there has been power cut, but there are scheduled power cuts for
In Beau Bassin, Rose, Hill, Curepipe, all the time, there is panne.
Mr Bérenger: Mr Speaker, Sir, this has never happened in Mauritius that you have
power cuts because there are repairs. When you work the safety margin, you put in repairs, you
put in maintenance and you put in this 10% spinning margin, precisely not to reach the point – I
am surprised to hear that – that it is because of repairs that there have been cuts over all the place
these recent days and last night.
The Deputy Prime Minister: Mr Speaker, Sir, it is not a question of capacity. What
happened last night was a question of faults on the line. Localised cuts due to faults on the line
and repairs. I said it, and I repeat it. That’s what happened; it was not a question of not having
enough generation capacity. Emphatically, I repeat it, it was not a question of generation.
Mr Speaker: I don’t want any interruption!
Mr Bérenger: Mr Speaker, Sir, if we can move on to the second part of my question. We
have heard that the 4 X 15 MW new engines, heavy oil engines, are expected to come into
operation end of 2015. Can I know what stage the tender procedures have reached and whether
emergency procedures are being resorted to for the CEB to buy these 4 x15 MW heavy oil
The Deputy Prime Minister: No emergency procedures but fast track has been used.
The only difficulty has been, and quite rightly so, to address all the problems of environment.
The environment there has been most vocal in the expression of objections and they had to be
listened to. This, Mr Speaker, Sir, has made us wait for one year to have the EIA final.

Mr Bérenger: I heard the hon. Deputy Prime Minister stressing that the heavy oil
engines already in operation are adaptable to Liquefied Natural Gas later on, if required. This
will bring me to two questions: one, this tender for 4 X 15 MW does it include therefore the
possibility of switching to Liquefied Natural Gas in the future?  
The Deputy Prime Minister: Yes, it does.
Mr Bérenger: Secondly, we have been told – I’ll get to that next – that there is a
feasibility study on Liquefied Natural Gas utilisation in Mauritius and yet, we are told that CNT
is supposed to be operational, if I heard correctly, by the end of 2015 which would mean that
Government has already decided to go ahead with the CT Power Project. Is that the case?
The Deputy Prime Minister: CEB power project of what? For 15MW?
Mr Bérenger: Not CEB, the CT Power. My question is: the hon. Deputy Prime Minister
– if you will allow me – gave us that the CT Power Project is expected to come into operation by
the end of 2015, if I heard him correctly. My question is: does that mean that Government has
decided definitely to go ahead with the CT Power Project?
The Deputy Prime Minister: Yes, Mr Speaker, Sir, the CT Power – one Member of the
Opposition rightly pointed out – there has been never a project in Mauritius which has taken six
years to go through various departments ending up with EIAs waiting. As long as they satisfy all
the requirements of the EIA, which includes the best available technology in terms of emission,
which includes also ash disposal which is contrary to what is being done at CTDS, it is a shame!
It is a shame.  Contrary…
Yes, contrary to what is being done there.  
Before anyone over there asks questions on coal, think of your past!
Think of what you did!
Two weeks! Record! Congratulations! Two weeks to get an EIA licence!
And there will be no transport from…
Mr Speaker: Silence!
The Deputy Prime Minister: …with heavy lorries destroying our roads day by day. They
will be done by ship. So, there it is! The project will take shape as long as it satisfies the
Mr Bérenger: C’est ce qu’on ne doit pas entendre, Mr Speaker, Sir. My worry is the
following: we are at a turning point. As a country and a Government, there is need to take a
decision qui va nous engager pour 50 ans à venir. Will the hon. Deputy Prime Minister and the
Prime Minister agree with me that although we are being told that Liquefied Natural Gas is the
future, this is what I heard, both in terms of cost and environment especially, Liquefied Natural
Gas is the future and being adopted all over the place, including in Uruguay more and more. We
are told that. We are told also that there is a feasibility study being carried out financed by the
CEB. Will the hon. Deputy Prime Minister agree with me and is the Prime Minister and others
conscious that if we go for CT Power now, we are stuck for 50 years to come with coal? If we go
with a 100MW pure coal at Pointe aux Caves,  
we are stuck for 50 years, inevitably we will have other coal stations after and the idea of using
LNG in the next 50 years will be dead!
The Deputy Prime Minister: Mr Speaker, Sir…

…the consultant has yet to give his report but from preliminary information that we have the
LNG will come in around 2020 with 100MW which, by that time will be accommodated. There
will be no problem with accommodating by 2020 and all the information that we have with LNG
being found off the East African coast. But with the problems of transport and conveyance,
stockage and storage, it will be resolved. But it will take time and there is heavy investment
So, I can tell the House, yes, the CT Power will come in but it will not, in any way,
hamper the introduction of  LNG.
Mr Bérenger: Will the hon. Deputy Prime Minister and the Government as a whole,
agree with me because this is a decisive moment on what will be the decision we are going to
take on CT Power and on LNG gas. My question is the following: why has Government made
the CEB pay for a feasibility study on Liquefied Natural Gas? CEB is judge and party; CEB
produces electricity; it buys heavy fuel engines and so on; it is going ahead with four new ones.
Why has not Government taken the responsibility of having a full-fledged feasibility study
carried out on the use of LNG gas? The hon. Deputy Prime Minister told us that the feasibility
study is supposed to be for both electricity production and transportation cost. Transportation
cost will impact on the métro léger, will impact on the bus transport system, will impact on the
harbour because more and more shipping lines are using Liquefied Petroleum Gas for transport
of ships. Why give that to the CEB? The CEB is concerned with electricity production. The CEB
is judge and party. Why has not Government decided to go ahead with its own finance by
Government, of the feasibility study which will decide for 50 or 100 years to come on the use of
Liquefied Petroleum Gas for both electricity production and transportation?
The Deputy Prime Minister: Mr Speaker, Sir, this consultant will report to Government
through CEB but Government will have the last word in it. CEB has expressed its interest to
have LNG replacing heavy fuel oil. It has already expressed its interest. It is making allowance
for the new engines that we are importing to be convertible to LNG. So, we cannot say that they
are against LNG or anything else. Let us wait for the independent and then I will produce it in
the House and there will be a debate.

Mr Bérenger: I think the hon. Deputy Prime Minister does not get my point. In what we
are discussing, time is of the essence both as far as the end of this year is concerned and next
year is concerned. But, especially, concerning the strategic choice that we have to make for
production of electricity over the next 50, 70, 100 years. Time is of the essence! My point is: on
the one hand, I do not know how many years we are going to spend again with CT Power
arguing about the EIA and this and that. I do not know how long this will take. In the meantime,
we buy 4 X 15 MW and that is it! On the other hand, we are going to wait for a feasibility study
financed by CEB rather to decide on the long term strategy. Would not the hon. Deputy Prime
Minister agree with me that to save time, because time is of the essence, instead of feasibility
studies, instead of ongoing interminable discussions with CT Power, should we not got for a
tender to invite producers to come forward, CEB, Liquefied Natural Gas, coal, coal/bagasse,
whatever, including CT Power to come forward, tender as rapidly as possible following all the
procedures, for producers to come forward with their proposals? Not waiting years for CT Power
and years for feasibility studies, why not go for a tender, open technology, coal, coal/bagasse,
Liquefied Natural Gas within as shorter time frame as possible and then, as a Government, take
the decision on what will be the medium and long term strategy in terms of electricity
The Deputy Prime Minister: Mr Speaker, Sir, this issue was already discussed in this
House and I gave the information.  In 2012, we launched an open tender, any technology for
proposals and it was a ‘bazaar’.  It was impossible to decide.  They were so mixed that it made
no sense whatsoever.   
For the information of the House, the CEB, through a consultant from South Africa, is
looking at the issues we have discussed, but they are not related to CEB.  It’s an independent
expert who will tell us the state of the situation.
Mr Bérenger: I think, again, the hon. Deputy Prime Minister is not getting my point.  
That tender that was made by this Government was a total mess. Just asking people to come
forward with any suggestion and this is not what I am saying!  I am saying call for a tender, well
prepared by the required consultant, asking for concrete proposals to produce 50 MW or 100
MW out of coal, coal/bagasse, Liquefied Natural Gas or whatever state of the art technology.  
We are not talking about the same thing.  I am talking about a specific tender, well prepared by
the required consultant that will allow the country to decide as soon as possible.
The Deputy Prime Minister: It smacks of the past, Mr Speaker, Sir.  Are we going to go
back again to that formula that we used in the past, that anyone comes up, he has land, he has
everything, he gets a contract?  This is what is going on.
Mr Speaker: Hon. Bhagwan!
Mr Bhagwan: ‘Ecouté do foutou!’
Mr Speaker: Hon. Bhagwan, withdraw the word!
Mr Bhagwan: I withdraw.
Ecouté ! Toujours Jeetah même! Surement, line aster la terre la bas sa!
Mr Speaker: Please!  You should address the Chair, not the hon. Member!
Mr Bhagwan: ‘Eta alé do.  Mo pena…”
Mr Speaker: Put the question, time is running!
Mr Bhagwan: ‘Mo péna chassé dans Cité Barkly kuma toi!’

I will come to the CT Power Project, Mr Speaker, Sir, which is supposed to be a project
in my Constituency.  Can I know from the hon. Deputy Prime Minister whether he is aware that
the CT power promoters these days are having consultations with the people of Albion and
Pointe aux Sables region?  According to the conditions of the EIA, these are fake, I would say,
meetings.  These meetings are attended and headed by Mr Dulthumun and bringing people
outside the region of Albion. This is creating a lot of problems in the region. Is the hon. Deputy
Prime Minister aware?
Mr Speaker: No! I am sorry to interrupt you, hon. Bhagwan! You have to put a question
and not to make a statement, I don’t agree.
Mr Bhagwan: I am asking a question: whether he is aware that Mr Dulthumun is
organising fake meetings for the promoters at Albion. I know the Deputy Prime Minister will say
Mr Speaker: Alright! The hon. Member has put a question.
Stop it now, hon. Bhagwan!
The Deputy Prime Minister: Mr Speaker, Sir, I have visited the site on several
occasions and I can give a guarantee to the House, with the EIA licence as provided, it will not
produce any deleterious effects on the neighbourhood.  What I gather, the lobby against this is so
strong and yet the same lobby is to have coal projects elsewhere.
I am not aware of what Mr Dulthumun knows.  But what I do know is that there is a lot of people
who complained, have never been there.  They have not even seen the site.

Mr Speaker: Last question to the hon. Leader of the Opposition!
Mr Bérenger: If I have a last question, I will ask the hon. Deputy Prime Minister, being
given that he is telling us that the discussions around the CT Power Project are ongoing and what I have heard is that, if the conditions put are abided by, the end result is that the cost of
production of the CT Power Project will be much higher than the CEB cost of production itself
and still much higher than the IPP cost of production per electricity unit.  My question would be,
at this stage, has an agreement been reached on the price at which CT Power will sell electricity
to the national grid.
The Deputy Prime Minister: Mr Speaker, Sir, the price is not finalised yet.  But, let’s
not compare like with unlike.  Whatever happened in the past with the price that was provided by
the IPP, it was years ago.  Today, things are quite different.
Mr Speaker: Time is over!