Solar power will produce most of the electricity in The Maldives by 2020.
The Maldives ‘renewable energy investment framework’, which has been announced by the Ministry of Economic Development, includes a mandatory target for the country to generate at least 60 per cent of its electricity from solar power by 2020. The Maldivian Cabinet has approved this target.
Right now, most of The Maldives depends on diesel generators for all its needs. Diesel is expensive; so is maintaining the generator sets. The plan also proposes a shift to wind, batteries and biomass to complement solar power, retaining existing diesel generators for reserve power.
According to the Government, economic modelling suggests it is already cheaper to generate electricity from solar photovoltaic panels than from diesel on many Maldivian islands. The direct cost of daytime solar PV is around US $0.21 per kilowatt hour, compared to $0.28 - $0.44 per kW/hour for existing diesel generators.
The plan suggests that up to 80% of the electricity island communities use could be derived from renewable energy, without the cost of energy increasing. The country’s 100 tourist resorts will be offered opportunities to reduce their oil consumption.
The total cost of decarbonising the Maldivian energy sector, including industrial zones and tourist resorts, is estimated at $3bn - $5bn over the next ten years. The investments will largely pay for themselves because the Maldives would save huge sums of money on oil imports.
“We are investing in renewable energy because it is cheaper and cleaner than burning fossil fuels,” said Mahmood Razee, Minister for Economic Development.
“At the moment, our economy is run on imported oil and every time the oil price rises, we all suffer. The Maldives has an abundance of sunshine, so shifting to solar will improve the country's energy security,” Mr. Razee added. The Ministry has invited energy experts to suggest improvements.
“The government has limited experience working with renewable energies because these are relatively new technologies to the Maldives. We have published our investment framework online and highlighted areas where we require feedback and help. We are crowd sourcing our energy plans and inviting the whole world to help us,” Mr. Razee said.
In 2010, the Maldives announced plans to become the world’s first carbon neutral nation by 2020. The energy sector is the country’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. The Maldives will announce plans to reduce emissions from other areas of the economy, such as transport, later this year.