Environmental Standards for Mini-grid Development in Mozambique

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Introduction

According to the Ministry of Mineral Resources and Energy, only 25% of the 28.8 million inhabitants in Mozambique have access to electricity from formal and secure sources. The poor coverage of the National Electricity Grid, especially in rural areas, causes challenges of various kinds. In this sense, the Government of Mozambique, aware of these circumstances, intends to implement, within the next 12 years, the access to universal electrification that constitutes Goal 7 of the 17 Goals of the United Nations Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development (ODS), of which Mozambique is a signatory[1]. In order to achieve this goal, alternative energy sources are sought to ensure energy access to the entire Mozambican population. Among various forms of solutions to the lack of energy, mini grids have been a satisfactory answer to achieving Goal 7, but for the construction of mini grid infrastructures, it is necessary to take into account environmental issues.

In this context, this article aims to list the current norms and environmental laws for the development of mini-grids in Mozambique.

The Environment

According to the law no. 20/97 of October 1, the environment is the medium in which humans and other beings live and interact with each other and with the environment itself, including air, light, land, water, ecosystems, biodiversity, all organic and inorganic matter, and all socio-cultural and economic conditions that affect the life of communities. Every citizen has the right to live in a balanced environment and has the duty to care for it[2].

Law 20/97 of October 1st (Lei no 20/97 de 1 de Outubro)

The present law, has the objective of defining the legal bases for a correct use and management of the environment and its components, with a view to materializing a system of sustainable development in the country[2].

This law applies to all public or private activities that directly or indirectly may influence the environmental components.

According to chapter V of the law, in order to prevent environmental damages caused by the development of a project, it is necessary to count with the following elements:

  1. Environmental License
  2. Environmental Audits
  3. Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)

The basis for an EIA is an environmental impact study (EIS) to be conducted by entities certified by the government. The details of an EIA's are described in a specific legislation, however the law describes the minimum requirements [2]:

  • Technical summary of the project;
  • Description of the activity to be developed;
  • Environmental situation of the site of the activity;
  • Modifications that the activity causes in the different environmental components existing in the site;
  • Expected measures to suppress or reduce the negative effects of the activity on the quality of the environment; and
  • Expected systems to control and monitor the activity.

Environmental and Social Management Policy Framework (QPGAS - Quadro de Políticas de Gestão Ambiental e Social

According to the Ministry of Mineral Resources and Energy, in 2019 the Energy for All Project (ProEnergia) was prepared with the objective of intensifying access to electricity for more households and businesses as part of the plan for Mozambique's universal electrification by 2030 defined in the National Electrification Strategy (ENE - Estratégia Nacional de Electrificação). In this context, there was a need to prepare an Environmental and Social Management Policy Framework (QPGAS) for the project to guide the design of the proposed project components and interventions to ensure that they do not negatively affect the natural and social environment and to optimize the positive effects. This project was prepared by consultant Mario Jorge Rassul who described the following principles[3]:

  • A systematic procedure for the participatory selection of the sites and activities of the various project components taking into account environmental and social aspects;
  • A phased procedure to predict the main potential environmental and social impacts of planned activities and planned interventions;
  • A typical environmental and social management plan to address negative externalities in the planning, execution and operation phase of electrification expansion actions (planning, construction and operation);
  • A phased monitoring and evaluation system for the implementation of mitigation and optimization measures;
  • An outline of recommended capacity building measures for the planning, execution and monitoring of the project's environmental and social activities; and
  • A budget to ensure that the Project has sufficient resources to meet its own interests, especially financial resources for the preparation and implementation of Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (AIASs - Avaliação de Impacto Ambiental e Social) and an Environmental and Social Management Plan (PGASs - Plano de Gestão Ambiental e Social) of the project and its intervention components.

The basic principles and requirements of the QPGAS will be applied throughout the life cycle of the project by all relevant actors, e.g. project managers, financiers, planners, contractors, etc. during the planning, design, construction and operation of the various interventions[3].

General Legal Framework in the Environmental Area

National Environmental Policy (Resolution nº-5/95 of 3 August) In 1995

The National Environmental Policy was approved as a basic instrument for sustainable development in Mozambique, having as basic goals the eradication of poverty, the improvement of the quality of life, and the reduction of environmental damage. This policy encourages actions that promote the reduction of deforestation. In this context, electrification projects can contribute to the reduction of the use of fossil fuels and woody biomass[3].

Environment Framework Law (Law No. 20/97, October 7)

The Environment Framework Law establishes the legal framework for the correct use and management of the environment and its components, in order to ensure sustainable development. This law, as stated in Article 3, applies "to all public or private activities that directly or indirectly can influence the environmental components", which include water, air, soil, subsoil, flora, fauna and all socioeconomic and health conditions that affect communities.This law determines the necessity of obtaining an Environmental License by the Proponent, before the beginning of the implementation of any activity that may cause significant impacts on the environment. The issuance of an Environmental License is conditioned to the completion of an EIA, subject to approval by the Ministry of Land, Environment and Rural Development (MITADER)[3].

Regulation on the Environmental Impact Assessment Process (Decree No. 54/2015, December 31).

This decree guides the environmental impact assessment process, indicating the scope of its application. This decree establishes 4 categories of environmental studies (A+,A, B and C) and guides which projects fall into which category. It also defines the competencies for environmental assessment and describes each of the stages of the EIA process. The decree also defines the contents of each of the studies for each of the categories, and the fee to be paid for environmental licensing for each of the categories. The decree also introduces 3 stages for environmental licensing, namely: Provisional Environmental License (optional), when the Preliminary Scoping Study (EPDA - Estudo Prévio de Definição de Âmbito) is approved; Installation Environmental License, issued after approval of the Environmental Impact Study or the Simplified Environmental Study and the presentation of the Resettlement Plan, if any, and finally the Operation Environmental License. The decree clarifies that the payment of the environmental licensing fee is made after the approval of the Installation Environmental License. This decree does not provide for the preparation of an Environmental and Social Management Policy Framework report[3]. The different categories of projects are described below:

  1. Category A: If it has a potential to have significant adverse environmental and social impacts that are sensitive , diverse and unprecedented. These impacts may affect an area broader than the sites or facilities subject to the physical works. The environmental evaluation (EE) for a Category A project analyzes the project's potential positive and negative environmental and social impacts, compares them with those of feasible alternatives (including the "without project" situation), and recommends any measures necessary to prevent, minimize, mitigate or compensate for adverse impacts and improve environmental performance[4].
  2. Category B: If its potential adverse environmental impacts on human populations or environmentally important areas, including wetlands, forests, grasslands and other natural habitats are less adverse than those of Category A projects. These impacts are site-specific, few, if any, are irreversible, and in most cases mitigation measures can be more easily designed than for Category A projects. The scope of the EE for a Category B project may vary from project to project, but is narrower than for Category A. As with Category A, the EE examines potential positive and negative environmental impacts and recommends any measures needed to prevent, minimize, mitigate or compensate for adverse impacts and improve environmental and social performance[4].
  3. Category C: A proposed project is classified as Category C if it has the potential to have minimal or no adverse environmental and social impacts. Other than the environmental and social screening, no other EE action is required for a Category C project. However, being a Category C project/sub-project does not necessarily mean that there is no need for adequate monitoring on social and environmental aspects[4].
  4. Category FI: If it involves investment of World Bank funds through a financial intermediary, in sub-projects that may result in adverse environmental and social impacts[4].

Directive for Environmental Impact Studies (Ministerial Order no. 129/2006, of July 19th)

The General Directive for the realization of Environmental Impact Assessments for development activities susceptible of causing significant impacts on the environment integrates a set of guidelines and global parameters to which the realization of the Environmental Impact Study in the different areas of economic and social activity must be submitted. The main objective of this directive is to standardize procedures and to provide the various actors with guidelines to write an EIS report to be submitted to MITADER.[3].

Directive for the Public Participation Process (Ministerial Diploma 130/2006 of July 19th)

This public participation directive is circumscribed within the framework of environmental management, according to Law No. 20/97 of October 1 and the Regulation on the EIA process, approved by Decree No. 54/2015 of December 31. The general objective of this Directive is to harmonize procedures and provide the various stakeholders with guidelines that should guide the Public Participation process. This process should start in the design phase of the activity and covers all stages of the EIA process. This directive defines the basic principles, methodology and process to be followed for an effective public participation process[3].

Regulation on the Environmental Auditing Process (Decree No. 25/2011 of June 15)

The decree applies to public and private activities, which during the phase of their implementation, decommissioning and restoration, directly or indirectly, may influence the environmental components. Thus, in accordance with the provisions of this regulation, the proposed activity is subject to environmental audits, to be performed whenever MITADER deems necessary[3].

Regulation on Environmental Inspection (Decree No. 11/2006, June 15th)

The purpose of the Regulation on Environmental Inspection is to regulate the activity of supervision, control and inspection of compliance with environmental protection standards at a national level[3].

Regulamento de acesso a energia nas zonas fora da rede

According to Article 24 (Environmental Classification and Assessment) of the present regulation:

  1. Supply activities for access to energy in off-grid areas from a mini-grid shall be carried out in accordance with the applicable legislation on the protection and preservation of the environment, including social, economic and cultural aspects, as well as the respective technical and environmental safety standards[5].
  2. Supply activities for access to energy from mini-grids using solar energy sources constitute activities whose environmental and social impacts are negligible, insignificant or minimal, not causing irreversible impacts, and the positive impacts related to the development of these activities are greater or more significant than the negative ones, under the terms of the applicable legislation[5].
  3. For the purposes of the previous number, the applicant must attach to the respective environmental licensing process, the Good Environmental Management Practices document, under terms to be regulated[5].
  4. The supplying enterprises for the access to electric energy from mini-grids that use hydro, wind or biomass resources with an installed capacity of up to 10 MW, are analyzed on a case by case basis, during the instruction of the pre-assessment process with the competent entity and based on the applicable legislation[5].
  5. The mini-grid concession holder is responsible for demobilizing the installations and equipment, the environmental recovery of the occupied land, the recycling of the mini-grid system's equipment and components, as well as the treatment of waste throughout the concession term until its termination, in accordance with the applicable legislation and the approved demobilization, replacement, recycling or recovery plan[5].

Conclusion

Mini-grids have been a great answer regarding the lack of energy in Mozambique, mainly in rural areas. However, projects for the construction of infrastructure for mini-grids must take care of the balance of the environment, in this sense the development of mini-grids must follow a list of norms or laws in order to safeguard the environment.

Law 20/97 of October 1st defines the legal bases for a correct use and management of the environment and its components, in order to materialize a system of sustainable development in the country, and applies to all public or private activities that directly or indirectly can influence the environmental components. This law describes some components that must be followed when creating a project.

Later, an Environmental and Social Management Policy Framework (QPGAS) was created, which is done upon the development of a project and this framework serves as a guide for a project as it gives the guidelines to be followed from the beginning to the end of the project. There is also the General Legal Framework in the Area of Environment that serves as a guide in the process of project development, this framework gives the documents required in the case of project development and where to acquire them.

Finally, the Bulletin of the Republic of Mozambique published in December 2021, the Regulation of Access to Energy in Off-Grid Areas which provides the Environmental Assessment and Classification of the mini grids in Mozambique.

References

  1. United Nations, THE 17 GOALS, https://sdgs.un.org/goals
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 LEI DO AMBIENTE, 7 de Outubro de 1997. https://www.biofund.org.mz/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Lei-do-Ambiente.pdf
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 MINISTÉRIO DOS RECURSOS MINERAIS E ENERGIA, Projecto de Energia para Todos (ProEnergia), Maputo, Janeiro, 2019. https://www.funae.co.mz/images/pdfs/24012019_QPGAS_ProEnergia_ver_limpa.pdf
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 MINISTÉRIO DA ADMINISTRAÇÃO ESTATAL E FUNÇÃO PÚBLICA UNIDADE DE GESTÃO DO PROJECTO, PROJECTO DE DESENVOLVIMENTO URBANO E LOCAL (PDUL)- Quadro de Política de Gestão Ambiental e Social (QPGAS), Maputo, Agosto, 2019. https://www.portaldogoverno.gov.mz/por/content/download/12078/96493/version/1/file/Quadro_de_Pol%C3%ADtica_de_Gest%C3%A3o_Ambiental_e_Social.pdf.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 BOLETIM DA REPÚBLICA DE MOCAMBIQUE, Regulamento de Acesso à Energia nas Zonas Fora da Rede, Maputo, 2021. https://amer.org.mz/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Decreto-nA%CC%82o-93-2021-de-10-de-Dezembro-de-2021-Aprova-o-Regulamento-de-Acesso-A%CC%83-Energia-nas-Zonas-Fora-da-Rede.pdf