Date of Award
Campus Access Thesis
Master of Arts (MA)
David S. Timmons
Given the threats of climate change and energy insecurity for a small country that imports most of its energy sources to meet demand, the Republic of Mauritius has indicated a willingness to investigate alternative and renewable energy development. In a net-zero emissions energy portfolio biomass produced from sugarcane bagasse will necessarily be included as it is an existing industry on the island. This study looks at a series of energy scenarios utilizing biomass in different systems, all of which assume eliminating coal use. The investigated possibilities include shutting down plants during the non-harvest season during which coal is currently burned, using alternative biomass crops during the off-season, producing biochar for use during the off-season or to sequester carbon, and other combinations of these options. In addition, ethanol production is also considered to extract additional energy from the sugarcane production process. This study evaluates ethanol in two forms; first as a refined byproduct, and second as a sole final product.
The model results in 16 estimations of levelized cost of energy (LCOE) with four scenarios and four objective functions. It is found that adding more biomass to the system results in lower costs and in standard combustion scenarios storing biomass is less cost-effective than building a larger plant. With pyrolysis used in biochar production, the relationship is reversed, and storage is more favorable in comparison to capital costs. Overall the cost of energy from biomass ranged from five to eleven cents per kilowatt hour across the four scenarios and objectives. Finally, the study finds that ethanol can be refined as either a byproduct or sole final product, the latter of which would result in no crystalline sugar product. The byproduct cost of production is $0.28 per liter and the sole product costs $0.82 per liter.
Lema-Driscoll, Ariana K., "Renewable Biomass Energy Utilization in Mauritius: A Cost-Minimization Approach" (2018). Graduate Masters Theses. 496.