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put on two renewable energy sources: wind energy and geothermal energy.

Wind and geothermal energy

are both environment-friendly and have great energy potential. The environmental, societal and
economical impacts of both energy sources have been discussed. The methods used to harness
geothermal and wind energy have also been included. Finally, the feasibility of implementing geothermal
power plants or/and wind farms in Mauritius was analyzed. After evaluating the possibilities, a conclusion
was then drawn as to whether it would be practical or not to set up wind and geothermal plants in


Abstract .................................................................................................... Error! Bookmark not defined.

List of Figures ......................................................................................................................................... 1
List of Tables ........................................................................................................................................... 2
1. Introduction .................................................................................................................................... 3
2. Rationale behind the work .............................................................................................................. 4
3. Literature Review ............................................................................................................................ 5
4. Global Projects using Geothermal & Wind energy ......................................................................... 10
5. Benefits of Geothermal & Wind energy ......................................................................................... 11
6. Negative impacts of Geothermal & Wind energy .......................................................................... 16
7. Health & Safety issues ................................................................................................................... 19
8. Discussion ..................................................................................................................................... 23
9. Conclusion..................................................................................................................................... 27
10. Bibliography .................................................................................................................................. 28

Figure 1. Layers of the Earth (Source: http://www.energygroove.net/technologies/geothermal-energy/) __________ 6
Figure 2. Operation of a wind-powered plant (Source: http://energy.gov/eere/wind/inside-wind-turbine-0) ________ 7

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Figure 3. Direct use of Geothermal energy to heat and cool buildings (Source:
https://www.bgehome.com/geothermal_howitworks.php) ______________________________________________ 8
Figure 4. Different geothermal power plant systems (Source: http://www.c2es.org/technology/factsheet/geothermal)
_____________________________________________________________________________________________ 9
Figure 5. Tectonic Plates and volcanic activities (Source: http://academic.evergreen.edu/g/grossmaz/heidtken.html) 9
Figure 6. Comparison of the Global Warming Emissions of different energy sources (Source:
http://cleantechnica.com/2012/02/20/geothermal-energy-advantages/geothermal-life-cycle-emissions/) ________ 12
Figure 7. Variations of prices of fossil fuels in the 21st century (Source: http://www.theenergycollective.com/schalk-
cloete/286196/understanding-continued-dominance-fossil-fuels) ________________________________________ 13
Figure 8. Environmental benefits in the US from implementation of wind power plants (Source:
states) ______________________________________________________________________________________ 14
Figure 9. Quantity of accidents resulting from structural failure (Source:
http://www.caithnesswindfarms.co.uk/accidents.pdf) _________________________________________________ 22


Table 1. CO2 emissions by different sources ___________________________________________________________15

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Table 2. Number of jobs created in the wind power industry ______________________________________________16


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Energy makes change; it does things for us. It moves cars along the road and boats over the water. It
bakes a cake in the oven and keeps ice frozen in the freezer. It plays our favorite songs and lights our
homes. Energy makes our bodies grow and allows our minds to think. Scientists define energy as the
ability to do work. There are many forms of energy sources; kinetic energy, potential energy, solar energy,
electrical energy, chemical energy, etc. We have two sources of energy namely renewable and non-
renewable. Energy is said to be renewable because they are replenished in a short time. Day after day,
the sun shines, the wind blows, and the rivers flow. We use renewable energy sources mainly to make
electricity. In this assignment we are interested mainly in geothermal energy and wind energy.
(Introduction to Energy, 2016)


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In this paper where we are required to study the impacts of two types of renewable energy namely
geothermal and wind energy, the different factors in these two types of energy are also mentioned.

From the energy source to the tapping of the energy to the construction and operation of the plant, the
details including the impacts, both positive and negative, on the society and environment are

Consequently, with the help of the data obtained in terms of impacts and set-up of the plant, we
analyze the different aspects required in the tapping of energy and we observe the possibility and
feasibility of a geothermal or/and wind energy power plant to be implemented in Mauritius.


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Geothermal energy originates from the transfer of heat energy from the Earth. The Earth comprises of
different layers namely the crust, the mantle, the liquid outer core and the inner core as shown in Fig 1.

Figure 1. Layers of the Earth (Source: http://www.energygroove.net/technologies/geothermal-energy/)

The heat energy in the Earths layers actually comes from the mantle which contains the lighter naturally
radioactive materials such as uranium, potassium and thorium mainly. These radioactive materials have
unstable nuclei and in order to obtain stability in their nuclei, they decay by releasing sub-atomic particles.
These particles collide with the neighboring particles which results in the formation of heat energy in the
mantle. Since these radioactive elements have half-lives of billions of years, this heat energy in the
Earths rocks will be provided for a long time remaining.

Furthermore, other resources of geothermal energy are the magmatic regions/molten rocks found in the
Earths crust and the upper part of the mantle. These are the richest geothermal reservoirs available as
they heat up the rocks above them.

The heat energy from the mantle is transferred by convection in the mantle to the Earths crust which
contains rocks and sometimes water. When underground water is available in the Earths crust, the water
is heated and steam is formed. Else, where the crust consists of only rocks, the heat is transferred by
conduction and escapes to the upper parts of the crust due to the pores in the rocks.

Tectonic processes, most importantly at the borders of the tectonic plates, also provide geothermal
energy since the crust is thinner there and may contain cracks from the movement of the plates.

An important point to note is that the temperature increases as we go deeper in the Earth which means
more heat energy is available deeper.


Basically, wind is described as the movement of air. The production of wind is due to:

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the irregular heating of the Earths atmosphere by the sun,
the unevenness of earths surface and
Earths rotation.

The topography of the land, presence of water bodies and vegetation are aspects on which wind flow is

The energy from the wind can be harnessed. Wind power has risen to prominence in the past century,
even more so, in the last few decades. This is mostly due to the increased need to utilize clean and
renewable energy sources instead of fossil fuels. Wind energy is known to be one of the cleanest energy
sources. Actually it is the second most widely used sustainable sources of energy.

In fact, the use of wind as an energy source goes a long way back in the past, as early as 5000BC. It was
primarily used as mechanical energy to drive boats, pump water and for grinding of grains. Nowadays,
wind energy is used to power turbines to generate electricity. The kinetic energy of the wind rotates the
turbines blades; the rotational movement is transferred to the turbine.

For the operation of a wind power plant, the wind, flowing towards the blades of the turbines, causes the
blades to rotate. The blades, in turn, drive a shaft found inside the nacelle shown in Fig 2 below. The
gearbox comes into action by modifying low-speed rotation to high-speed rotation in order to effectively
operate the generator. The generator then converts the kinetic energy of the high-speed drive shaft to
electrical energy. Ultimately, transformers step up the voltage to the appropriate voltage required in the
transmission lines for distribution.

Figure 2. Operation of a wind-powered plant (Source: http://energy.gov/eere/wind/inside-wind-turbine-0)

The very first windmill for power generation was built in 1887. Since then, there have been many
innovations in turbines designs for enhanced performance and in order to fully exploit the potential of
wind energy. Another factor which plays a crucial role in optimal power generation is the location of wind
turbines. The latter can be constructed onshore and offshore. This will be further discussed in the coming


To be able to use this geothermal energy, it has to be harnessed from the Earths crust.

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Geothermal energy has been naturally available since long before as in hot springs and geysers amongst
other benefits. This indicates that this energy can be directly tapped for immediate use. The direct use
of geothermal energy does not necessarily involve the use of a geothermal heat pump unless for heating
and cooling purposes. This heat source is used to heat buildings, soils, fish ponds and greenhouses and
can even cool buildings during summer. Iceland is a striking example when heating buildings using
geothermal energy is concerned with almost the entirety of its buildings heated using this energy.

Figure 3. Direct use of Geothermal energy to heat and cool buildings (Source: https://www.bgehome.com/geothermal_howitworks.php)

Another major use of geothermal energy is in power generation. Basically the energy obtained from dry
steam or heated water is transferred to the power plant at the surface of the Earth by drilling a production
well. However, the water that is removed from the crust has to be re-injected into the Earth in order to
maintain the cycle of renewable geothermal energy. This is done by drilling an injection well some way
off the production well. The injection well feeds water back into the Earths crust so it can be heated again
for it to be available for re-use.

There are mainly 3 types of systems that can be used to generate electricity using geothermal energy
namely, dry steam power plant, flash steam power plant and binary cycle power plant.

Looking at the dry steam power plant, dry steam at very high pressure is brought to the surface using the
production well and the steam is directed to a turbine where the steam rotates the blades which cause
the turbine to rotate eventually. The turbine is connected to a generator which ultimately converts the
mechanical energy of the blades of the turbine to electrical energy. After it has been used, the steam is
then passed in a condenser which condenses the steam into water. Consequently, this water is injected
back to the Earths crust using the injection well. An additional amount of water has to be injected into
the geothermal reservoir to provide to the water that has been evaporated and lost to the surroundings.
This maintains the balance of the geothermal reservoirs.

The flash steam power plant works on the same principle as the dry steam one except for a small change
in the source of energy coming from the production well. In fact, the production well here carries very
hot water at a very high pressure to the surface. In order to obtain steam, the very hot water is
depressurized so it can boil to produce the steam required to rotate the turbine. The steam is then passed
in the condenser so as to produce the water to be fed back to the crust.

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The binary cycle power plant has a more specific system and is used in regions where geothermal energy
is not readily available. The binary cycle system has hot water as source and in order to reduce the cost
of depressurizing the hot water into steam, it simply uses another fluid with a lower boiling point than
water. The hot water is transferred to the surface by the production well and a heat exchanger is installed
between the hot water pipe and the other fluids pipe in order to heat the fluid to produce vapor required
to turn the blades of the turbine. In this binary system, the production well and the injection well use a
single pipe so the water after transferring its heat to the other fluid, can be injected straightaway in the
Earths crust.

Fig 3 shows the different types of geothermal power plants.

Figure 4. Different geothermal power plant systems (Source: http://www.c2es.org/technology/factsheet/geothermal)

While geothermal energy is available everywhere, it proves to be a more profitable source in certain
locations. For instance, regions which has recent volcanic history and regions at the boundaries of the
tectonic plates are highly likely to be considered as hotspots where a considerable amount of
geothermal energy may be tapped. From Fig 4 below, we can effectively notice that volcanic activity is
much more frequent at the plate boundaries.

Figure 5. Tectonic Plates and volcanic activities (Source: http://academic.evergreen.edu/g/grossmaz/heidtken.html)


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Wind turbines work over a restricted range of wind speeds. Therefore, choosing an appropriate location
is a must. Turbines will not operate in regions where wind speed is too low. Conversely, turbines will cease
to work at high wind speeds to avoid damage.

Wind power changes with temperature and altitude. These two factors influence density of air. A rise in
air density increases the availability of air. Thus air density should be taken into account while selecting
a good site for wind electricity generation.

Moreover, it has been found that wind speeds increase as distance from the ground increases. Hence,
places which, previously, were deemed unsuitable for wind power production due to low wind speed can
now be considered for wind power by installing turbines with tall towers.

It can be concluded that the ideal location for wind turbines is one which is:

Open- there is huge availability of air and not a lot of disturbances.

Obstacle free- Obstructions which are present between turbine and the wind have a negative
effect on the efficiency of power generation. However if there were to be obstacles, the turbines should
be fixed at a significant elevation above the obstacles.

A recipient of considerable and almost regular wind speeds. - This ensures maximum power
production all year round.

Other factors which need to be regarded are linked to the costs involved in the process and interferences
caused by wind turbines. Turbines which are in close proximity to transmission lines would keep the cost

Two types of wind farms exist namely onshore and offshore. Onshore turbines are found on land while
offshore wind turbines are situated at sea or in large water bodies.

The offshore turbines are constructed either:

bordering the coast on large platforms made of concrete, or

in deep sea water with the help of floating platforms.

Both offshore and onshore wind farms offer many advantages. However, along the years offshore wind
farms will gain precedence over onshore ones.

Onshore wind turbines are more economical and accessible; they have low capital and maintenance costs.
However, offshore wind turbines produce more energy.


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Geothermal energy is the heat energy from the Earth as we have learnt in earlier sections. It's clean and
sustainable. Assets of geothermal energy range from the shallow ground to boiling hot water and hot
rock found a couple of miles underneath the Earth's surface, and down considerably more profound to
the to a high temperatures of liquid rock called magma (Renewableenergyworld.com, 2016).
At present, the biggest geothermal power plant ever constructed is the Geysers Geothermal Complex
in California. The complex comprises of 18 power stations and the minimum capacity is 55MW while the
maximum capacity is 138MW. The facility has a total installed capacity of 1,517MW and generates
approximately 900MW in active production (Power Technology, 2016).
Harnessing power from the wind is one of the cleanest and most practical approach to create power as
it delivers no dangerous contamination or harmful gas emission. Wind is likewise plentiful, unlimited,
and reasonable, which makes it a feasible and a substantial option for fossil powers (Union of
Concerned Scientists, 2016).
A significant number of the biggest operational onshore wind farms are situated in Germany, China and
the United States. An extensive study has shown that the maximum energy that can be yielded from
wind both onshore and offshore is about 72 terawatts. To-date, the largest operational wind park in the
world is the Gansu wind farm. It consists of 18 wind farms still under construction and is found onshore.
Its current power capacity is estimated to be over 6000MW. After construction, the objective is to achieve
a 20000 MW power capacity by 2020. The second largest wind farm found onshore is in California with a
capacity of about 1300 MW. The wind park has a total of 586 turbines. As for the biggest offshore wind
farm, it is found in UK. Overall it comprises of 175 turbines with a gross capacity of 630 MW.

Many countries in the world are taking the initiative of expanding their use of wind energy. As such, there
are several projects underway concerning the construction of wind farms.


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a. Renewable & Sustainable Energy Source

First and foremost, one of the primary reasons that geothermal energy is being advocated for by
governments, scientists, engineers amongst all is that it is a renewable source of energy. The energy
contained in the Earth will last for billions of years according to scientists since the radioactive isotopes
in the Earths mantle and core have half-lives of billions of years and hence the radioactive activity in the
Earth will continue to provide us with geothermal energy.

Geothermal energy is also regarded as a sustainable energy which means that it can sustain its own
consumption rate. Eventually, the geothermal reservoirs when consumed, will naturally refill themselves
provided the water is being fed back to the reservoir. This is what happens at a well operated geothermal
power plant where the rate of consumption does not outmuscle the rate of injection so as to keep their
geothermal reservoir sustainable.

b. Minimizing air pollution

Since the source of geothermal energy is mainly hot water, geothermal power plants does not contribute
much to the global warming emissions in relation to power plants powered by fossil fuels. The life-cycle
emissions of carbon dioxide which includes the emissions from processes such as the manufacturing,
maintenance and operation of the power plant, contribute to a minimal value of the global warming
emissions of coal, oil and natural gas powered plants. Geothermal plants also do not contribute to the
formation of any oxides of nitrous and particulate matter responsible for asthma, cancer amongst all.
They do release a small amount of hydrogen sulfide though from the production well which eventually
forms sulfur dioxide in the atmosphere but this amount is also far less than other power plants. This
makes it a much more environmentally friendly source than fossil fuels.

Figure 6. Comparison of the Global Warming Emissions of different energy sources (Source:

c. Job creation & Economic benefits

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As geothermal energy has proved to be a relatively clean and resourceful, governments and
organizations from all over the world have increased their investments in geothermal energy which
results in a growth of the industry. The implementation of more power plants, as a result, creates jobs
locally for the society. Moreover, since the renewable energy industry requires much more labor work
than the fossil fuel industry which relies mainly of machine work, it leads to more jobs created per unit of
power generated (www.ucusa.org, 2016). This will, in turn, enrich the business of the supply chain for the
geothermal power plant.

The cost of tapping geothermal energy is also significantly lesser than when using fossil fuels. It could
prove to save up to 80% of the costs incurred when using fossil fuels.

Moreover, geothermal energy is available locally and depending on the location, has the potential to
outperform coal power plants while a rather substantial part of a countrys economy goes in the
importation of fossil fuels for power generation. Hence, geothermal energy could prove to be a direct
replacement for fossil fuels and as a result, the countrys economy would greatly benefit from the
reduction in trade deficits (plaza.ufl.edu, 2016). The fraction of the countrys wealth that would have
been spent on fossil fuels, could be re-invested in local projects that would be advantageous to the
society. Moreover, countries will not need to rely too much on fossil fuels for power generation.

d. Stability

Unlike other sources of energy such as coal, oil or even wind, geothermal energy is a stable source of
energy since it does not rely on seasons or the market. Geothermal energy is readily available throughout
the year. The plants are pretty resistant to natural calamities which make geothermal energy an energy
source that can overcome these difficult periods with relative ease compared to the other plants.

Eventually, this leads to a stability in energy prices over the years when compared to the variations in
fossil fuels. Moreover, the costs of using renewable energy are falling steadily and combining it to the
relatively stable energy price from geothermal energy, electricity will soon be available to everyone at an
affordable price.

Figure 7. Variations of prices of fossil fuels in the 21st century (Source: http://www.theenergycollective.com/schalk-


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a. Greenhouse Gas Emissions

The working of wind turbines in itself does not induce any kind of air pollution. No carbon dioxide gas
(greenhouse gas) is emitted during the process. There is no toxic release of nitrogen dioxides, sulfur
dioxides, heavy metals and particulate matter. Thus the negative effects that those gases have on the
environment are not fostered. Wind energy indirectly helps to preserve rainforests and animals habitats.
Moreover, it prevents people from suffering from illnesses associated with the emission of particulate
matter and heavy metals.

Albeit there are no greenhouse gas emissions during the operation of turbines, there is carbon dioxide
(CO2) which is given out during the manufacturing and installation of the turbines. The amount of CO2
emitted is significantly low.
Table 1. CO2 emissions by different sources

Energy Source Amount of Carbon dioxide released

( pounds of CO2 equivalent per kilowatt hour)

Wind 0.02 - 0.04

Natural Gas 0.6 - 2

Coal 1.4 3.6

Table 1 compares the amount of carbon dioxide given off per kilowatt hour by each energy source. It can
be seen that wind is undoubtedly the cleanest and most environment-friendly energy source among
these three. The effect of the small amount of CO2 emitted can be redeemed within about a year, by the
clean power generated. The carbon footprint of wind energy is negligible. It can hence be said that wind
energy does not promote global warming and its effects on the environment. Electricity generation from
wind in the US achieved some environmental benefits. The benefits achieved in 2013 are illustrated in Fig

Figure 8. Environmental benefits in the US from implementation of wind power plants (Source: http://w3.windfair.net/wind-

b. Job creation & Economic benefits

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The wind industry has brought about a wide variety of jobs. Starting from the manufacture of raw
materials for the turbines to their maintenance, a large amount of labor is required. Many people have
found employment due to the different processes involved in developing, constructing, erecting and
maintaining turbines.

The total number of persons recruited in the wind energy sector worldwide in 2012 was estimated to be
670,000. Table 2 found below shows the amount of jobs created by a single 250 MW wind farm project,
based on the report written by Hannah Druckenmiller. The project in itself generates roughly 1080
Table 2. Number of jobs created in wind power industry

Field Number of Jobs Generated

Construction 522
Manufacturing 432
Planning and Development 80
Sales 18
Operations 27

Furthermore, in a scenario drafted for the Global Wind Energy Outlook 2012, the wind power industry
has the capacity to create about 2.6 million jobs by 2030. The numbers appear quite promising and this
could potentially decrease unemployment rate. In 2010, during the economic recession in Europe, the
wind energy sector provided about 238,000 jobs.

Turbines can be the provenance of property taxes in rural regions. Annual property tax revenue of $ 1
million was acquired for every 100 MW of wind development in southwest Minnesota. As a result, it
contributes to an economic boost to the country. Moreover, Turbine parts can be exported to other
countries, bringing in revenue to the country. The value of European exports in 2010 due to the wind
industry attained 8.8 billion. The imports for that year being only 3.2billionn, made the wind power
sector a gross exporter of 5.7billion.

Wind is free and available at the site of energy production, thus extra money does not have to be spent
in the transportation of fuel (wind). There would be no fluctuations in the price of electricity as well since
wind is free which would be a definite boost to the global society considering that there has been a drop
in the price rate of electricity produced from wind -from 40 per kWh in the 1980s to 2.5-5 per kWh in
2015 which shows the instability of actual energy prices.

c. Water Use

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Water is essential for human life and it is a limited resource. Operating a turbine does not include any
water use. Water is used only for manufacturing purposes. It has been predicted that by 2050, a
considerable 260 billion gallons of water can be saved by wind power. Thus wind energy helps in
conserving water. Compared to coal and nuclear power, wind does not use water at all in electricity

d. Land Use

Onshore wind turbines can be built on agricultural land since they do not take the whole space of the
wind farm. Other activities such as crop production and breeding of livestock can be carried out on the
remaining land. Since the working of turbines does not entail any toxic emissions, there are no risks of
crops or livestock being affected.

More space is involved in the installation of offshore wind turbines. This is because the latter are larger
and their blades are bigger. Also, platforms have to be built for the turbines.


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a. Environmental Pollution

When geothermal fluid from geothermal reservoirs is pumped up to the surface, it brings up high levels
of arsenic, boron, lithium and mercury alongside. The nearby water from rivers or lakes may be polluted
if some waste is released into them. This can prove to be very harmful to the locality but also the aquatic
life. It may also happen that during the drilling process, a pathway may be formed where the geothermal
fluids mix with the water from rivers or lakes polluting them directly and rendering the water dangerous
for use or consumption.

Tapping the hot geothermal fluid also can irrevocably damage nearby natural geothermal phenomenon
such as hot springs or geysers. The removal of the hot fluid from the reservoir means that the hot fluid,
also responsible for the heating of the springs or geysers, is being taken out mostly for power generation.
Hence, ultimately the naturally-occurring geothermal phenomenon will be deprived of the hot fluid
providing them with heat energy.

Engineering works for the plant will cause environmental damage as well mainly during the drilling and
excavation process at the start. The transformation of the location into a road network and a setup for
drilling and excavation will directly impact on the natural habitat of inhabiting animals, on the wildlife
and the vegetation. To accommodate for the land for the plant as well, the wildlife is destroyed and the
species inhabiting the region may lose their food source and furthermore, the noise produced can cause
panic to the animals. Toxic fluids used on the site can prove to be deadly if it enters into contact with the
animals around too. When the time has come to leave the site, if proper measures have not been taken
to close the wells, geothermal fluids could still have an impact on the surface.

b. Land Use

The land on which the plant is found and where the geothermal energy is extracted from the Earth can
be affected negatively if the plant is not managed properly. For instance, if the geothermal fluid is
extracted at a much higher rate than the rate at which it is being injected back, the reservoir gets used
up more than it actually is replenished. This, eventually, causes the fluid pressure in the reservoir to
decrease leading to the sinking of the land above the reservoir. This phenomenon also called as land
subsidence results in the land to sink sideways and thus, the infrastructural facilities in the region get
damaged and the wells face a strain on them as well (www.teara.govt.nz, 2016). The region that is also
sited on active tectonic plates mainly, can be victim to more frequent seismic events as well due to these
perturbations in the land. However, the seismic events are minor ones.

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c. Social Impact

The implementation of geothermal plants, while it fulfills the energy needs of the society, also causes
some issues to the society directly. For instance, the construction of the power plant sometimes leads to
the eventual damage/destruction of potentially historic landmarks from drilling processes and the setting
up of the power plant and transmission lines. These landmarks often mean a lot to the society and this
can cause an outrage with the people.

The damage to the landscape also leads to visual issues especially if the region has a touristic link. It will
have adverse effects on the tourism activity in the area and as a result, local businesses may be crippled
due to this damage. In the long run, due to the operation and the maintenance of the plant, the release
of steam fumes in the atmosphere will contribute even more to the visual impacts caused by the
geothermal plant. Moreover, people living in the locality could be pretty sensitive to these visual impacts
particularly if the landscape proved to be sacred/historic to them.

Furthermore, one of the most disturbing impacts to the society is the noise made during the different
processes in the life of the plant. Starting from 85 decibels, noise starts to cause hearing damage to
people (Infoplease.com, 2016). Most notably, the noise made by the drilling and excavation processes
contributes to noise pollution levels ranging from 80 to 115 decibels at the boundary
(Teeic.indianaffairs.gov, 2016). As long as the plant generates electricity, the noise produced by its
operation and maintenance work will be in the range of 71 to 83 decibels (Teeic.indianaffairs.gov, 2016)
and the life span of a geothermal plant is around 25 years in average but can exceed this if maintained
properly (Gdc.co.ke, 2016) which can lead to substantial hearing damage in the long run.


a. Noise and Visual Impact

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There is quite a debate over the aesthetics of wind turbines. While some people may perceive them as
attributes of progress, others may be deeply bothered by them, deeming them to be eyesores. To reduce
the visual impact, turbines should be made less conspicuous, consequently less intrusive.

Wind turbines produce noise pollution. This is another feature that people find annoying. It is not a health
concern though. The assembly of the wind turbine does produce infrasound. The latter being
imperceptible to human hearing is not harmful. Also, the low frequency sounds and vibrations produced
by turbines are not hazardous. To decrease the level of noise, the blades of the turbine have been
modified. Another good practice, put forth nowadays, is to keep a minimum distance between houses
and wind farms. The minimum distance to be retained varies according to different countries.

b. Wildlife

Wind turbines have been the cause of death of many birds and bats due to collisions with the turbines,
adversely affecting wildlife. A study showed that in 2009 about 20000 birds were killed by turbines in
wind farms. In the US, a six week study conducted at two wind farms revealed over more than 4500 bat
deaths. The number of avian and bat deaths is quite alarming and to try and remedy that, some steps
have been taken.

During nighttime, when wind speeds are considerably low, the turbine blades are stopped.

Researchers at the University of Aberdeen found that a particular radar beam, which when
transmitted, reduced bat activity by about 40%. The beam was not harmful for the bats.
Therefore wind farm sites must be fitted with radar transmitters to prevent bats from
approaching turbines.

Further research must be carried out to find ways to limit avian deaths and so, to conserve our wildlife.

c. Installation & Maintenance Works

During transportation of turbine parts and materials, exhaust gases are released in the atmosphere.
Some of the gases cause air pollution and promote the formation of smog.
CO2 released leads to global warming. The toxic gases emitted may have adverse effects on public health.

In regions where the land is very dry, the installation of turbines causes erosion of the surrounding land.
Furthermore, roads may get damaged when carrying heavy equipment and unloading turbine parts.
Cement mixing trucks may compress the soil, leading to soil erosion. Erosion induces pollution of water
bodies (siltation), increases risk of floods and changes courses of streams.

Installation of offshore turbines may negatively affect marine life. The installation may be hindrance to
other activities occurring along the coast such as aquaculture, sand and gravel extraction.



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Working on a geothermal power plant can prove to be a dangerous job for the workers but also for the
people in the locality if necessary precautions are not taken to avoid the dangers involved.

a. Drilling & Excavation

Drilling and excavation are highly dangerous processes for the crew working on it. These workers need
to work in difficult conditions since they are exposed to hazardous fluids such as drilling mud which
contains harmful contaminants, geothermal fluids and high pressure steam which can cause health
problems for the workers.

The excavation crew work on the underground piping system which requires working in narrow ditches
known as trenches. These trenches need to support the load of the entire crew and the piping system
and the soil borders may react adversely to this strain since the soil in geothermally active regions are
softer and hence, it may give in if the maximum load that it can support is exceeded.

Another dangerous aspect of drilling and excavation processes is that workers working near excavations
or drill wells have a risk to fall and this could lead to fatalities including death.

b. Water Contamination

The geothermal fluids contain various contaminants from rocks in the crust and as explained in earlier
sections, if discharged to nearby rivers or lakes, will contaminate the water rendering it dangerous for
use. However, other fluids such as mud obtained from drilling processes also contain harmful
contaminants that will have the same effect as geothermal fluids if they enter in contact with nearby
rivers or lakes.

c. Emissions on workplace

Geothermal power plants as we have learned before emit hydrogen sulfide from the crust to the
atmosphere. This eventually leads to the formation of oxides of sulfur in the atmosphere and these
adversely affect the health of the site workers.

However, hydrogen sulfide is not the only resulting emissions of works in a geothermal power plant. Silica
which is present in cement products release silica dust when worked upon during drilling processes
mainly but also construction of the plant. This silica dust when inhaled, can cause permanent lung
damage and lead to a deadly disease known as silicosis (Osha.gov, 2016).

d. Electrical accidents

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Working on a power plant naturally includes the possibility of electrical hazards. Eventually, during
construction of the power plant and its operation and maintenance processes, electric shocks when
dealing with transmission lines and substations, are highly probable if necessary safety measures are not
taken. Also, system failures on the plant can cause electrical fires which can be very dangerous to the
workers and the plant itself (Teeic.indianaffairs.gov, 2016).

Moreover, in the production wells, normally large electrical pumps are used to move the geothermal fluid
to the surface. In case where the electrical pump has not been set up properly, workers can be victims of
electrical mishaps (Osha.gov, 2016).


The activities associated with the establishment of wind turbines such as assembly of turbines,
manufacturing and transportation of the different components to the site, are not without risk. Accidents
may occur at any time and precautions have to be taken to avoid these occupational hazards.
RenewableUK estimated the number of accidents occurred on wind parks to be 1500 between 2007 and

Below are some of the health and safety issues related to the wind energy sector:

The manufacturing stage involves the manipulation of epoxy resins. These are synthetic chemicals
used in the production of turbine components. Workers can develop contact allergy and dermatitis
due to exposure to the epoxy resins. A study carried out at a company, dedicated to turbine repairs,
revealed that its workers suffered from severe headaches, throat and eye irritation, dizziness among
other health problems. This was mostly due to the fact that the employers handled highly toxic

Other than the subjection to carcinogens and epoxy resins, inhalation of dust and fumes resulting from
the manufacture of turbine parts also cause health concerns.

Turbine components are huge; towers can be as long as 100m. The transportation of these materials
has been the cause of some road accidents. Accidents are due to load shifts and crashes with vehicles.
According to the CWIF (CWIF, 2016), the amount of road accidents increases as more turbines are set
up. The average annual number of accidents in the UK was 118 for the years 2006 to 2010 and 163
from 2011 to 2015.

To try to avert accidents as much as possible, a swept path analysis can be conducted. Through computer
modelling, the routes leading to a wind farm site can be analyzed and the probable dangers involved can
be detected. Hence, allowing the transport to travel without almost any incident.

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The construction phase is the one which is the most hazardous. There are many risk implications.
Working at heights make falls very imminent. The risk of objects or load falling is very high during
lifting of parts and cables. Structures collapsing is also equally unsafe.

Other threats to health and safety include:

Fires or explosion of turbines

Electrical Shocks

Long exposure to noise and vibration.

In Germany, a crane operator was killed due to a turbine blade falling on a crane cabin. A mean of 50
turbine fires was registered in a GCube report in November 2015.

When wind turbine service technicians go on site for maintenance work, they also face many dangers.
Structural failure may occur. Blades and tower can fall on the workers, injuring them or worse killing
them. Turbine fires may also occur.

Figure 9. Quantity of accidents resulting from structural failure (Source: http://www.caithnesswindfarms.co.uk/accidents.pdf)

Fig 8 shows the data collected by the CWIF (CWIF, 2016) about the quantity of accidents resulting from
structural failure.

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The island of Mauritius, given the fact that it is a result of volcanic activity from the Mascarene plate, is a
relatively young island since it has been predicted that volcanic activity leading to the formation of the
island stopped from 0.17 to 8 million years ago. As a result, the relatively recent volcanic activity would
have been a likely cause a pretty resourceful geothermal reservoir in Mauritius (Mrc.org.mu, 2016).

Moreover, the fact that the Mascarene plate is in the vicinity of the Reunion Island Hotspot which is one
of the most active hotspots in the Indian Ocean, adds to the suggestion of the existence of a fairly good
geothermal reservoir in Mauritius. Effectively, Mauritius is in a favorable position to possess high
potential of geothermal energy.

In 2009, a local geomorphologist looked out for potential sites for geothermal exploitation in Mauritius
and after having carried out tests from the 23 volcanic regions, found four sites that could potentially
possess high geothermal potential.

However, prior to the possible implementation of a geothermal power plant, the sites have to be
analyzed further geologically. Geochemical and geophysical analysis also have to be observed in order
to verify the presence of geothermal energy.

Moreover, Mauritius is a pretty small island and based on the capacity of the plant, it could use up a fairly
big amount of land and could cause problems in the neighborhood since villages and towns are pretty
close to each other leaving little space to be exploited between them. Surveys also have to be carried out
in the surrounding localities to assess the potential impacts it could have on their health, on the natural
resources nearby, the disturbance and pollution caused by the plant and the works involved in the plant.

However, in a country that generates the majority of its electricity using fuel oil and coal, the
implementation of a geothermal plant would certainly lead to less dependence on imported fuel. In 2010,
the total primary energy was provided by a staggering 83% of imported fuels. Depending on the
geothermal resources available in Mauritius, geothermal energy could provide enough to greatly
diminish the use of energy sources such as oil and coal. Eventually, this would lead to a reduced
importation of fossil fuels. This would reduce greatly the trade deficit of the Mauritian economy.

Furthermore, the use of coal produces residual gases which contain a high amount of greenhouse gas
that contribute to the global warming crisis. The implementation of a geothermal power plant generally
produces no harmful greenhouse gas emissions and as a result, if geothermal energy takes over coal, the
quality of air would be greatly improved.

As of now, a company known as Geothermal Power Limited has been established in Mauritius to work
towards the exploitation of geothermal sources in Tanzania mostly and probably the entire African
continent (Geothermal Power Limited, 2016).

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Mauritius being a small island is more susceptible to the effects of global warming. Hence, Mauritius
should implement the use of other renewable energy sources apart from solar energy in order to decrease
our contribution to global warming. One way of doing this would be to reduce our dependence on fossil
fuels for electricity generation by using wind-generated electricity. The Sugar Investment Trust (SIT) of
Mauritius has already taken a step forward in promoting wind energy by embarking on the first wind farm
project of Mauritius. The wind farm is found at Plaines Des Roches and has been recently set into
operation this January 2016.

Plaines des Roches Wind Farm

The Plaines des Roches wind park project comprises of a total of 21 turbines and is made up of two phases.

The first phase included the installation of 11 turbines having a power capacity of 9.35 MW. It started
in 2015 and ended in early January 2016. The first phase is the experimental stage and if it works
correctly, the second phase will be started.

The second phase constitutes the construction of 10 additional turbines with a capacity of 8.1 MW.

The project is financed by the SIT and the Quadran Group. An investment of Rs 800million was made
for the project.

The electricity produced by the turbines is to be supplied to the grid network of the Central Electricity
Board (CEB). The wind-generated electricity would offer price stability to the CEB. The power
produced by the first phase is said to provide energy to around 10,150 inhabitants.

The Eole Plaines des Roches Ltd will be catering to the maintenance of the turbines.

The wind farm is close to the electrical grid.

The approximate wind speed at Plaines Des Roches is 6 m/s,

Prospect of Offshore Wind Farm in Mauritius

To make Mauritius a more eco-friendly island, more wind farms need to be set up onshore as well as
offshore. Let us primarily consider the construction of an offshore wind farm in Mauritius.

The main points to be taken into consideration are:

Site Location

A place with reasonable wind speed and minimum obstruction and turbulence needs to be located. Data
about the different places where offshore wind farms could possibly be set up must be collected.

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Researchers at the University of Mauritius have studied 40 years worth of weather reports from stations
across the island. The researchers used computer software such as computational fluid dynamics to
reproduce wind flow patterns throughout the island. After an intensive study, they found the following
places suitable for construction of offshore wind parks:

1) The North of Grand Gaube,

2) East of Flacq, and

3) North of Ile aux Aigrettes.

Cost of Project

SIT and the Quadran Group could provide the funding for this project. Assuming that the farm would
consist of 11 turbines, the project would probably cost about Rs750-800 million which is more expensive
than the project at Plaines des Roches. This is because platforms would need to be built. The turbines to
be installed may have different specifications from those of Plaines des Roches. More powerful turbines
may be needed. 2.3 MW turbines with a hub height of100m and rotor diameter 108m can be used.

To minimize the costs involved in the project, out of the three locations mentioned above, the one
nearest to the electrical transmission lines must be chosen. The government could grant incentives for
the wind power project.


It is necessary to seek any compulsory administrative and environmental authorizations before starting
construction work.

Benefits of the Project

It is mostly environment-friendly. No greenhouse gases are produced during the functioning of the

Conserves water, which is essential in a place like Mauritius where droughts may occur during

Creates employment, hence decreasing unemployment rate in the island.

Noise produced by turbines will not be a nuisance to locals.

The project will lower our dependence on fossil fuels.

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Relatively high cost.

Disturbances during installation process.

The advantages of the offshore wind farm project outweigh the drawbacks. With the different
procedures involved, the completion of the project may take about 2 to 3 years.

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Geothermal energy appears to be a partial solution to our energy needs. A geothermal heating system
can fully replace a natural gas or oil heating system. In combination with a photovoltaic system, you can
reduce the annual costs by more than 60 percent and also reduce CO2 emissions. Investing in a
geothermal system is profitable both from an economical and an environmental perspective. As far as it
concerns Mauritius, it is a potential energy solution. However, more analysis must be performed in order
to assess the possibility of implementing geothermal power plants in Mauritius.

Wind energy is one of the best alternative solution for fossil fuels. The installation cost may be high but
is also the less polluting system of energy. For developing countries like Mauritius this system is a good
opportunity to create jobs. A wind farm has already been initiated in Mauritius at Plaines des Roches as
the first phase of a project supervised by the Quadran Group. Ideal location sites other than Plaines des
Roches are actually under study by researchers to implement more wind farms in Mauritius. Wind energy
is starting to establish itself in Mauritius!

Ultimately, geothermal & wind energy are two relatively clean sources of energy that can change the
face of the energy industry in Mauritius. Further implementation of these plants, if it will be possible, will
certainly improve our energy supply in Mauritius.

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