The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has completed the “Project for Clean Energy Promotion in Malé” with the installation of solar panels at the Ministry of Finance and Treasury today.
Some 740 solar panels were installed in 12 government buildings in the capital under the US$11.1 million (MVR141.5 million) grant aid solar energy project launched in December 2011.
In the first phase of the project, solar panels capable of generating 400 kilowatts of solar power were installed in the President’s Office, the Maldives Centre for Social Education (MCSE), the State Electricity Company (STELCO), Thaajuddeen School, and Hiriyaa School.
While solar panels were installed in the Maldives National University, Kalaafaanu School, Faculty of Health Sciences, Ghiyasuddin International School, and the Velaanaage in the second phase of the project, the Ministry of Finance and Treasury and the Hulhumalé hospital received solar panels in the third and final phase of the project.
Of the four schools, Kalaafaanu, Ghiyasuddin, and Hiriya were constructed with Japanese grant aid while Thajauddeen was reconstructed with Japanese grant aid and reopened in June 2004.
The grant aid agreement for the solar energy project was signed in March 2010.
The project was based on a feasibility study conducted by JICA – the Japanese government’s bilateral donor agency – from February to November 2009 at the request of the Maldivian government during the administration of former President Mohamed Nasheed.
The project was designed to contribute to the Nasheed administration’s goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2020.
Then-President Nasheed launched the project in December 2011 by personally installing panels on the roof of the President’s Office.
Nasheed had previously installed 48 solar panels on the roof of his official residence, Muleeage, provided gratis by LG Electronics Californian company Sungevity.
At the launching ceremony of the JICA-funded project, Nasheed said a transition away from fossil fuels would increase the energy efficiency of the Maldives by 20-30 percent by the end of 2013.
Low carbon development
Speaking at a function at the Finance Ministry this morning to mark the conclusion of the project, Environment Minister Thoriq Ibrahim observed that the Maldives spent US$487 million a year or 31 percent of GDP annually on importing oil.
The figure is expected to rise to US$700 million by 2020.
According to the Maldives Customs Service, of the MVR7.2 billion (US$466.9 million) worth of goods imported in the first quarter of 2014, one-third was spent on petroleum products.
As the domestic economy was adversely affected by the high cost of oil imports, Thoriq stressed the importance of reducing the country’s dependence on fossil fuels whilst increasing investment in renewable energy.
The government’s target was generating 40 kilowatts of power across the country from renewable energy sources during the next five years, the environment minister revealed.
The government will seek assistance from international partners and private parties for investment in renewable energy, he added.
Japanese Ambassador Nobuhito Hobo meanwhile pledged assistance for similar renewable energy projects in the Maldives.
At a workshop last week, Environment Minister Thoriq revealed that the government was working on a low carbon development strategy to improve energy security.