Nasheed installs solar panels on roof, Obama close behind

President Mohamed Nasheed this morning clambered onto his roof and assisted with the installation of 48 solar panel modules on the presidential residence of Muleaage.

“Solar power helps combat climate change, reduces our dependency on imported oil and most importantly cuts our electricity costs,” Nasheed told assembled journalists, in his bright orange hard hat.

Yesterday, US President Barack Obama announced he would be following suit by lining the roof of the White House with photo voltaic cells and installing a solar-powered water heater.

The Muleaage solar system provides 11.5 kilowatts of peak output, enough to power almost 200 standard 60 watt light bulbs, and will save the country US$300,000 over the life of the system. The panels were donated pro bono by LG Electronics, while Sungevity trained local staff to install and maintain the panels.

Moreover, the system is plugged into the city’s grid and any power not being used will be fed back into the system.

The design itself was competed by Sungevity from its offices in Oakland California, without taking even a tape measure to the president’s roof. Using a software algorithm developed by a high school student at Sydney Grammar School in Australia, aerial photographs of Male’ and trigonometry to determine the azimuth of the President’s roof, Sungevity was able to calculate Muleaage’s solar efficiency with a one percent margin of error.

The company is now conducting an energy audit of the building to identify way to cut energy wastage.

“We are proud he chose Sungevity to coordinate the design of a system from halfway around the world,” said the company’s founder, former Greenpeace campaigner Danny Kennedy. “Saving energy and going solar are the keys to unlocking economic growth and energy security.”

The Maldives is presently entirely reliant on imported fossil fuels, and the high cost of electricity – particularly in islands, where it can double – remains a political hot potato, as well as placing the country at the mercy of fluctuating oil prices.

The country’s state-owned power provider, STELCO, faced a loss of Rf547 million (US$43 million) in 2008 and was operating at a daily loss of Rf320,000 (US$25,000), building up staggering levels of debt.

Significant anger was directed at Nasheed’s government when it raised prices to reflect the real cost of providing the utility, culminating in an opposition-led ‘Red Notice’ protest in May which left scores injured.

Following a tense three-hour stand-off, police used water canons and then tear gas to disperse the crowd and took a number of DRP activists into custody. At street-level politics in Male’, the rising cost of electricity comes second only to fears of rising crime and is a key domestic point of contention with Nasheed’s government. It is not uncommon to hear of families paying up to a third of their incomes to STELCO.

This means that unlike many other countries, the Maldives has a strong political as well as economic imperative to drop the cost with proven renewable energy, suggesting Nasheed’s rooftop antics this morning were less of a publicity stunt and more a way of raising the profile of solar technology as a proven alternative.

“The average price in the US is now US$0.24 a kilowatt, which makes solar power already a third cheaper than grid electricity in the Maldives,” noted Danny Kennedy, in an earlier interview with Minivan News.

“The Maldives can move to clean fuel, hedging against fuel price rises while taking on the vested interests of incumbent technology.”


34 thoughts on “Nasheed installs solar panels on roof, Obama close behind”

  1. Anni must seek assistance and provide this all island offices and island hospitals.

  2. greatly appreciate the effort and hope clean energy will power the maldives around.

  3. This is nothing but a publicity stunt. Anni wastes more money in other things than the so called elcetricity cost he is baffling about.

  4. Dear Mr President, this is great work if really are doing for the national interest. I hope I can invite HEP to innagurate the laying of Solar Panels at my home..that is when i can aford to do so. Please help the needy ones with free panelling at their homes.
    I hope Noble Price is not in your mind.

  5. You rock Anni, Ibrahim Yasir your opinion will be respected but please take off your blue shades and see the true colors.

  6. energy audits need to be done before the solar panels are installed, if they want to do it, do it right. this comes off as a pr stunt to me. renewable resources are great, but set the right example, get an energy audit

  7. The coolest president around.
    This is a great step, and thank you Sungevity for donating the panels.

  8. @tom

    Do you any clue of the whereabouts of a $40 million that Maldivians have lost before the 'pr stunt' guy took office?

    Here is the Energy Audit. Over $327,000 in savings over 30 years. That's more than Rf 100,000 a year.

  9. Congrats President Nasheed. You are proving that you are young enough to actively participate in such activities. We are proud of you for Making Maldives the leading voice on Environment.

  10. (ibrahim yasir)its because of cowards like u golhaa maumoon n co ate all the money, when anni came to powere there was no money in reserve.....

  11. Cool initiative. Hopefully this will set a trend with more people in the Maldives making the shift to renewable energy. If that happens, then this 'stunt' will truly be worthwhile. Whether Obama or Anni, it is personal acts like this from leaders that can make the difference.

  12. It is a move in the right direction, to achieve Carbon neutrality, and i commend the President for practicing what he preaches. I hope after six months the President would be in a position to tell us if the system worked as designed and the actual costs.

    It is important for the systems to be replicated to households in Maldives. What is now needed is innovative financing so that Solar PV is affordable to Maldivians.

  13. Great work and nice safety hat Mr President.

    Please take a moment to think about all the construction workers who work in unsafe working environment without proper equipment and come up with a good workplace safety regulation for the country.

  14. Not impressed, Mr. President! Looking at the other pictures, I can see a whole set of film crew with you on the roof. Why you need all that unless this is another fabricated publicity stunt? MN should have included one of those pictures as well.

  15. Tom: CleanEdison offered a free energy audit to the White House. 10 bucks says they turn it down. You're right, total pr stunt. Here is the article

  16. Who cares if it's a publicity stunt if it got things done. What do you think matters most? Who put the panels up Muleeaage or the fact that this inspired the president of the most powerful nation in the world to do the same?

  17. It was President carter who installed solar panels on the White-house. Later during President Reagans time, it was taken out.

  18. Our president has been doing very well on the international stage, now get here and help us Maldivians!

  19. Great job, really..

    now only if he could put solar panels on top of more ordinary houses that really need it (just like the so many flats he's built around for the ordinary folk)... 🙂

    who really need it even more now (now that he's lowered electricity prices just like he promised before coming to power.... 🙂

    i mean, no point in doing everything for yourself (and your rabid dogs) if you claim to be the unselfish hero, no? or are we that dumb...

  20. comgratulatuions your othentic science solar grid tie power station,
    its good if we have a option to see the instalation and the specification for us to increase our knowledge.

  21. This is hilarious..does anyone know howmuch Mr.Nasheed spend to buy these solar cells? Does anyone know how much did the foreign company has charged for installation of these panels.
    Does anyone for how long these solar panels will be there without any maintenance?
    let me do some maths..cost of 11.5kw solar panels will be approximately 69000 [email protected] rate of 3 dollars per watt.
    so installation+ everything will about 150000 dollars which is about 2 million rufiya.
    Assuming mr.nasheeds solar penal provides electricity 11 hours.
    so lets say that mr. nasheed takes 5 kw for his residence and sells the rest to stelco at the rate of 5 rufiya per kilowatt.
    he could only sell 330 rufiya of electricity a day in this case.
    So annually nasheed can sell would be about 100000 rufiyaa .
    so it will take 20 years or 15 year to get the money back but in between these years the there will be many maintenances and replacements.
    So i wonder if this is an intelligent decision by a president. Wasting tax payers money for 2o years..

  22. (Mohamed) Listen, the article clearly states that the solar panels were DONATED by LG Electronics, and that the staff were trained to inspect and maintain them properly by Sungevity. That makes a huge difference in the total profit that (hopefully) will be gained, in comparison to your calculations. In many ways, this isn't the best president we've had, but let's learn to help him become one, by agreeing with the good things he's done for this country.


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