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Maldives starts solar energy revolution

The solar power project at the Kuredu Resort & Spa, one of many Maldivian resorts now employing solar technology. Photo: Ministry of Environment and Energy

Standing up as a global role model for environmental sustainability, Maldives’ ambitiously green energy roadmap is paving the way for huge investments in renewables

The concept of intergenerational equity is fuelling Maldives’ energy policy. It means fairness between generations, that assets like the environment do not belong to one generation alone, and that those alive today must preserve them for the future.

“The current Maldivians have a huge responsibility to ensure that the beautiful island nation that we have inherited from our forefathers is delivered in the same beautiful serene state to the future generations of Maldivians and global citizens,” says Dr. Hussain Rasheed Hassan, the Maldivian minister of environment.

We started with one small power station and now we have around 35 stations producing around 130 MW of power

Mr. Hassan Mughne

Managing Director, STELCO

The island nation of Maldives has long been a leading voice in the global fight against climate change. As an excess of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere warm the seas, affecting the coral atolls on which the nation rests and causing the sea level to rise, the concept of intergenerational equality demands a change in the current energy model.

That’s why Maldives is dedicated to replacing carbon burning energy sources with renewable energy. And it hopes the rest of the world will quickly follow suit.

“If you consider small island developing states, around 44 nations altogether, we are not contributing even one percent of the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere,” says Dr. Hussain. “We do not want to be climate refugees, and technology is going to help us.”

In January, Maldives signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the UAE on cooperation in the field of renewable energy and energy efficiency to help kick-start the country’s renewable revolution.

Club Med Finolhu Villas resort has found a way to balance luxury leisure and sustainability by installing 67,000 square feet of solar panels. The needs of the one-acre island’s 100 guests at any one time can be catered to by using only renewable solar energy.

At the moment, Maldives has no national grid, and is highly reliant on diesel generators for electricity. As much as 10 to 15 percent of the nation’s GDP is spent on importing fossil fuels. However, solar energy is now seen as the main energy solution for the sunny island nation.  

By the end of the year, the government plans to increase solar capacity from 16MW to 21MW, which would cover around 7.5 percent of the country’s needs. But it is looking to make and attract the investments needed for solar to cover 70 percent of peak local demand within the next few years.

“We are open to foreigners coming in and investing in solar and other renewable energy. Our electricity companies will purchase this electricity from producers,” explains Dr. Hussain. “Maldives isn’t huge but it is a beautiful place that everyone would like to be associated with. It would certainly look good on an investment portfolio.”