Mauritius Power Blackout Risks

Future increase of Mauritius electricity consumption will challenge the power supply infrastructure

With the significant increase in demand for energy to be expected in the coming years in Mauritius, there will be the necessity to boost supplies or experience overloaded networks. At the same time with the desire to promote more environmental friendly energy sources, Mauritius will experience a transitional period where there could be a danger of demand exceeding supply. In addition to this, add the increased danger of politically driven assaults on power supplies, then the argument for assuming that power blackouts will increase in the future would appear strong.

If this is the case then assuming that the power industry has a vital importance to Mauritius society and its economy, then a classification of this industry as a critical infrastructure to be closely watched in the future would seem to be sound. Direct costs of such blackouts would be for example, lost production, idle labour and facilities, damage to electronic data, spoiled and damaged products and damage to equipment.

A worst case scenario would be a blackout lasting over one week. After this period most backup systems will fail. Such a situation could be caused by several phenomena such as natural catastrophes, cyclonic conditions, space weather (solar flare), terrorism attack or a cyber attack. Most critical systems (hospitals, water and sewage systems, stock exchanges) will have back up in place. However these would only have generating possibilities for a maximum of a few days.

An example of a severe power outage has been the shut and melts down of a nuclear power station in Japan in March 2011 due to an earthquake and tsunami. This natural catastrophe also led to the closure of three other nuclear plants, six coal fired plants and eleven oil fired plants, all in all representing 11% of Japan’s total power. Factories have been forced to operate at reduced levels with an annualised effect on Japan’s gross domestic product of estimated 1.5%.

Already past scenarios indicate the possibility of severe economic losses occurring. There is a necessity to encourage a more intensive concerted action between politics, industry and consumers in Mauritius to ensure the reliability in investment and energy planning necessary to encourage overnment and energy industry to develop innovative and workable solutions. Purely private energy industry cannot be seen as a substitute for political inactivity or failure to invest in unstable grid systems.