The Union of Comoros is a little known archipelago of small island nations [SIN’s]. These Comoros Islands are located off the East Coast of Africa. Excluding Mayotte; the last of the Islands belonging to the French Commonwealth, [in theory part of the EU] Comoros is the third smallest Nation in the African continent its also one of the poorest.
SOLIDEA Group recently completed an energy investment study for Comoros and with a focus on Moroni and its disadvantage of no reliable deep sea port facilities.
Comoros needs energy to develop; it is entirely dependent on foreign aid, many of its citizens work abroad sending money home as a life line to those who remain behind. The relative inaccessibility of Moroni by sea inhibits the availability of energy and so stifles the economy without energy the economy cannot grow, it is a vicious circle.
“Comoros has every opportunity to build a first class sustainable renewable infrastructure on which tourism can thrive and local industry can develop” Says SOLIDEA’s President Dr. Janusz Przeorek “The people of Comoros are friendly by nature, Comoros has everything naturally to become a world class tourist destination; we and our investors are ready and committed to invest in Comoros now”.
Having been asked to review the potential to deliver electrical energy in dependable quality at reasonable cost and in the fastest possible time both SOLIDEA and its private energy investors concluded that an all renewable energy mix of CHP+PV together was preferable to the development of a fuel oil infrastructure in the Comoros.
“There is always a question of if renewable energy can work, and we always take the element of doubt to heart and we challenge renewable energy side by side with fossil fuels technology” says Dr. Janusz “We also make a side by side financial analysis for our investors and especially for those who are new to renewable energy”. “When everyone is on the same page and all the costs mechanisms and trends are understood we can logically deal with the issues before us to deliver a high quality sustainable energy solution.”
“We concluded PowerCan® 200 CHP units presented the opportunity to be fired on diesel in extreme circumstances in any case; but only if such extreme circumstances occurred where waste or biomass were not available and diesel was” Says SOLIDEA’s Steve Walker. “The Comoros report was a real eye opener for us; Comoros really does pay a premium for black energy”. “Having completed our studies we now know how to invest and we are looking for investment projects to get electricity up and running on 100% renewable energy in Comoros”
Being located in the Indian Ocean South of the Seychelles, Comoros has all the potential of tropical paradise status, a calm place relatively free from major cyclones [at least for most of the year], earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tsunami’s. Comoros can be picture post card perfect, sandy beaches, high mountain elevations rolling tropical valleys, coves and a natural coastline of unspoiled beauty.
SOLIDEA were requested to have designed a “variegated” renewable energy mix for its investors in Comoros and to look at diverse but unobtrusive workable solutions. Given the value added potential for tourism the report was required to recommend the lowest environmentally obtrusive impact. For this reason wind was the least popular renewable choice despite being considered relatively low risk in many workshops.
“Wind demonstrated to be more obtrusive, expensive and unreliable, when compared to a CHP+PV mix, we have a lot of UV and salty fog atmosphere, wind got the boot on quality, cost and spoiling the view” Says Walker. “We then turned and focused on potential hydroelectric, Combined Heat and Power gassification with various feedstocks and of course Solar”.
SOLIDEA have concluded that CHP+PV together is the definitive solution for a renewable energy mix in the Comoros and could be deployed immediately. “Geothermal energy exploitation from volcanic activities or otherwise does not get us excited [above ground or below water] we have seen no evidence to demonstrate either its reliability or if its performance can be consistent. We simply do not believe in the volcano pipe dream technology advocated by our predecessors and energy pioneers” says Walker.
Almost 80% of Comoros working population are employed in agriculture yet Comoros imports 50% more food than it exports. SOLIDEA were quick to identify that biomass production can be a very positive income stream for the agriculture food industry boosting employment, corn for example demonstrates a high food and high energy yield.
As many non indigenous non food, niche crops are already prevalent in Comoros agriculture [such as ylang ylang], new fast fuel crop plantations such as bamboo wood or grasses do not present a high environmental risk, and their place in the Comoros agriculture biodiversity could create considerable cost effective employment.
During its research SOLIDEA took an holistic view of agriculture and the possibilities of biomass energy, “We have looked at indigenous and non indigenous bananas, coconuts, pineapples and countless other crops says SOLIDEA’s Steve Walker. “We considered increasing many crops could be obtrusive banana plantations for example look very manicured from the air. Fortunately coconut shells are the best product for biomass CHP feedstock and coconut plantations are both natural and plentiful in this region”
SOLIDEA Group biomass team considered how a significant increase in combined corn production and coconut for biomass energy would impact the environment and in summary it does not demonstrate to be obtrusive in the Comoros Islands. Corn can provide a significant energy feedstock for biomass immediately, and without reducing food crop volume. Corn is a versatile commodity it can boost agricultural production like coconut it has potential for the food processing industry and value added products now and in future. Corn production delivers better economic security than vanilla which is easily synthesized these days. SOLIDEA are advocating more coconut plantations for food biomass reducing soil erosion and preserving the islands natural biodiversity.
Comoros converted to Islam in the year 632 as legend has it, by the year 1515 the Portuguese eradicated the indigenous population, later the Madagascans took islanders for the slave trade and finally it found peace as a French Colony. Comoros gained its independence from France in 1975. Over the past 30 years Comoros has endured more than 20 Coup attempts, resulting in over 1/3rd of Comoran nationals to become displaced overseas. In 2010 Ikililou Dhoinine was democratically elected president.
Since political and authoritarian turbulence of Comoros past has subsided there has been much interest in the Comoros and from a series of business investors and funds in the Arab world. Comoros presents a unique unspoiled tourist destination for families of the Middle Eastern Middle Classes as well Europeans of a similar status. Comoros is a mild tropical climate in July and Augusts and an ideal get away from the searing heat typical of the Middle East. Comoros is a democratic Islamic State with 98% of its population being Sunni Muslim.
Comoros is one of the poorest countries on Earth. There are over 300,000 Comoran’s living in France many of whom would return it is suggested to rebuild their native country if the economic situation and living conditions were by any means normal. Electricity, clean water and sanitation are all in hopeless poor supply.
Despite ideal conditions for renewable energy Comoros is still entirely dependent on high cost fuel oil and petroleum energy that generates what little electricity there is in Comoros.
This phenomenon, a very high solar radiation level and a tropical climate which is ideal for growing Biomass is incentive enough for SOLIDEA Group investors to take solid steps towards the development of energy in Comoros and for the benefit of its mankind