Muhyiddin School powers up first of 652 kW solar panels across six islands

Muhyiddin School in Villingili has switched on 61 kW of rooftop solar panels, enough to power 30 houses and the first panels of a 652 kW watt solar project to be rolled out across six islands.

The panels were switched on Monday morning by Germany’s Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation & Nuclear Safety, Katherina Reiche, with data on the power generated fed into a web browser application projected onto a screen at the school.

The project was the result of a power-purchasing agreement signed by State Electric Company (STELCO) with Renewable Energy Maldives (REM), while German solar firm Wirsol provided technology and financing.

The project was signed in June 2011. The panels to be rolled out include 294 kW in Villingilli, 64 kW in Guraidhoo, 78 kW in Himmafushi, 120 kW in Maafushi, 48 kW in Kaashidhoo and 48 kW in Thulusdhoo.

Panels will be installed at six sites in Villingili. Including the school’s 61 kW, there will be 74 kW at Eduruvehi, 28 kW on Cinamale’, 40 kW on the Judicial Building, 58 kW on the Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) flats and 33 kW on the powerhouse.

REM had initially proposed a system to provide 70 percent percent of daytime load across six islands on the back of the government’s proposed feed-in tariff, but STELCO reduced the installation to 30 percent with the intention of later expanding it.

Head of REM, Dr Ibrahim Nashid, said the success of project was an important step that would instill confidence among others in the power sector to invest in renewable energy.

“When we tested the [Muhyiddin] system we found the panels were generating 10 percent more than we had initially calculated,” he said. “It is a good indication of the potential for solar in the Maldives.”

The photovoltaic panels on the roof of Muhyiddin school will power the school across were the first grid-connected solar system in the Maldives, he said. “We are groundbreaking. I say that not as a boast, but because it is difficult to bring across what we do.”

The panels were “plug and play”, simple to maintain, and modified to withstand a salty environment with a lifespan of 25 years, “probably longer than the roof”, Dr Nashid said.

Power from the solar panels will be sold – and fixed – at 25 cents a kW/hour, compared to the current cost of around 35 cents a kW/hour.

Founder of Wirsol, Stefan Riel, said the six-island 652 kW installation would avoid the equivalent of 800 tons of carbon entering the atmosphere every year.

“In the next 12 months, we want to put 20 mW into the grid across several islands, which would mean 25,000 tons of carbon reductions,” he said.

“We are using German technology and experience to create jobs in the Maldives, and give young people here the opportunity to be involved in their energy production. For that to happen we need the continued support of the Maldives government, and the German Development Bank.”

While the final details of the feed-in tariff are still being discussed, the Wirsol system will operate “under a special arrangement between us an STELCO,” Riel said.

Cabinet has embraced the economics of solar and announced plans to generate up to 80 percent of the country’s electricity using the proven technology, while President Mohamed Nasheed has installed solar panels on the roof of both his residence and office.

Research conducted last year suggested that electricity costs could be reduced to 17 cents or even lower on some islands through the use of solar. Many existing diesel generators on islands are extremely expensive to run as they have a capacity far above the demand of their islands, with electricity costing up to 77 cents a kW/hour in some areas. Solar was, claimed the President’s Energy Advisor Mike Mason, “an opportunity to print money – and there aren’t many of those available to the government.”

But the key challenges remain economic and regulatory, according to REM’s Director Hudha Ahmed.

“We have been making 20-25 year contracts on good will. We need to make sure investments are secure and that regulations are in place,” she said. “Contracts also have to be signed by the councils as well as the utility providers, as the councils have the responsibility for providing electricity.”

However capital investment and the lack of financing options was the greatest obstacle, she said.

“It has been a huge challenge – no bank would finance this project,” she said. “We approached every bank in the Maldives but none would invest.”

Very few people in the Maldives would have US$5000 to invest in a typical rooftop solar system, she explained, even if such a system were to cut the average electricity bill in half and pay for itself in 5-6 years.

While elaborate financing mechanisms exist to fund the capital city’s enormous motorcycle fleet, with costs not dissimilar to a solar PV system, no such small loans system exists for solar.

“The solar technology itself is really the simplest part,” Hudha said.


12 thoughts on “Muhyiddin School powers up first of 652 kW solar panels across six islands”

  1. Congratulations Dr. Nashid.

    This is the reality of the Maldives people. We should stop talking about corruption altogether.

    Every government provides funds and opportunities for their close relatives. It just seems to be the way things are.

  2. Wirsol probably is a Jewish company trying to spread Christianity in that island! I kindly advise the islanders to chase those yahoodheen from your land, before they claim your land, wives and children as their own! Learn from your Palestinian brothers and non-fornicating sisters, and take action before its too late. We do not welcome these 'energy' companies, who are Jews, disguising themselves as the wretched Atheists who spread Christianity without a doubt.

  3. @ tsk tsk: what do you mean the government provides funds and opportunities for close relatives? This isnt the 30 years old regime.

    [1] Everyone who applied for housing loan was granted - 21 applied and all were granted
    [2] Every individual citizen of Maldives is covered under health insurance amounting MRF 100,000 per year including you 'tsk tsk' - you are not a relative or a friend of President
    [3] Anyone above the age of 65yrs gets MRF 2,000 - not just for President's relatives and friends who are above the age of 65yrs.
    [4] Islands where people used beaches as toilets has come to an end with the establishment of sewage and clean water system - its not just for Islands where President have relatives and friends at large.
    [5] Impossible airport of Fuahmulah and Impossible Convention Center in Addu was constructed and is in full operation now - I dont suppose president have relatives in Addu/Fuahmulah

    What the f*** are u implying then? Unlike the above, in the past 30yrs people had to beg the government for financial assistance needed for medical purposes. Last year itself, over 100,000 citizens got medical support throught MADHANA SCHEME which is something introduced by the current government. You'd know this if you look through the statistics. So stop talking bullshit and start facing the reality.

  4. Congrats Dr.Nashid. My family believes in me and what I do. So does most regular families who live a normal life. Today the world believes in renewable energy and President Nasheed is leading it. Everyone is welcome to invest in saving the world. When we convert most of Maldives to renewable energy, the Talibans in this country can either stay in the dark or go to sleep to wake up on dooms day. They will even refuse heaven because Of the Jewish community there. Until then, let's try and save the world.

  5. I also wonder why a Jewish company would want to spread christianity? Does the sheik know the religions of the world let alone renewable energy? 🙂

  6. @tsk tsk:

    1) Did I say something wrong? Dr. Nashid was given this opportunity outside open tender rules and we cannot deny that fact no matter how benevolent or beneficent this government is.

    2) I have no idea what housing loan you're speaking about. If every Maldivian who applied for a housing loan was given one trust me there would be no money in our banks or treasury.

    3) The Universal Health Scheme is a farce. Our country cannot afford it and although I could laugh myself to the bank for selfish reasons the bad effects on a macroeconomic scale coupled with the poor investment on developing facilities and services at the health sector and the high expenditure on Aasandha which increases the tax burden on citizens at the wrong time makes the 100,000 Rufiyaa I get for run-of-the-mill services at overpriced hospitals and pharmacies a non-starter for me.

    4) The Basic Pension for senior citizens was a measure introduced through the Pension Act drafted with World Bank assistance during the Qayyoom regime and passed by the Parliament in 2007 before President Nasheed was elected. It is administered and provided by the Maldives Pension Administration Office and has nothing to do with Nasheed. I fear you have been misled by MDP propaganda.

    5) Which islands? Are you sure that sewerage projects have and can be carried out in all islands in the Maldives that need them? Also I believe in population consolidation and not haphazard installment of expensive facilities in one-horse towns. Whether it's Qayyoom or Nasheed who wasted public funds on installing expensive sewerage systems and desalination plants for political benefit I will always condemn the waste of public funds.

    6) Fuvahmulah Airport is hardly "fully operational". I would not call a landing strip an airport however you are free to do so. The Equatorial Convention Center will be meaningless unless the high capital investment spent on it is recovered in due course. Until then I do not celebrate its construction.

    Please do not get me wrong. Every criticism of Nasheed is not pom-pom waving for Qayyoom. We cannot spout party propaganda every time someone criticizes the President or else what kind of democracy are we. Nasheed is no messiah and his government has been riddled with corruption, favoritism, nepotism and bad policies. If we praise him for systematic changes that we as a people brought through our own sacrifices then we have made very little progress towards getting rid of personality cults and hero worship in our country.

  7. After reading above comments, I feel there is some thing good and bad people have said. I am of the opinion that Respected President and his appointed officials such as Dr. Nasheed are doing what is good for the people. It is difficult to please every one and nothing is full proof any where in the world. The Islands nation has no resources except sun and wind to get renewable power. Insted of complaining do some thing if you can.
    I will say a renewable energy approach even may be little expensive in initial stage is worth because it is RENEWABLE.

    Appreciated your support and understanding for the people of Maldives.

    A well wisher and activist from USA. If I can assist in such activities, feel free to contact us at above e-mail. We are in the renewable energy technologies and we see the results and benefits.

    Thank you,

    Bob Pandya

  8. Before you make accusations and false assumption you should inquire with STELCO and ACC how the tender process went?

  9. tsk tsk:Gayoom's dog

    REM got the project in a transparent process. Dont try to deceive others.

    STELCO called all interested parties to submit their proposal for this project. The project was awarded with an open tender. The process has been transparent. Even now, no party can claim otherwise.

  10. Alright then. I take back my comment about Dr. Nashid.

    However the rest of my responses to the MDP troll will still hold water.

    As for Qayyoom he failed to keep Nasheed and his cohorts from destabilizing our country so he does not have my support. We need a strong President with the vision and courage to develop our country.

    Not grandstanders running around talking about stupid old climate change.


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