Solar panels providing 50 percent of Thinadhoo’s electricity

Fifty percent of the electricity needs on the island of Thinadhoo in Gaaf Dhaalu Atoll are now being provided by solar panels.

Roof-mounted 250kWp (kilowatt peak) photovoltaic (PV) systems were installed in the regional hospital and mosque on the island today.

Speaking at a ceremony in Thinadhoo this morning to mark the grid connection of the solar panels, Minister of Environment and Energy Ibrahim Thoriq observed that the PV system was the largest of its kind in the atolls.

Along with a 308kWp system installed earlier, Thoriq noted that solar panels in Thinadhoo could now generate 50 percent of electricity used daily.

Thoriq also noted that the Maldives was heavily dependent on imported oil for its energy needs, which was a burden on the domestic economy.

“In 2013 alone, about MVR6 billion was spent on importing petroleum products,” Thoriq reportedly said.

According to the energy ministry, the solar PV component of the ‘Clean Energy for Climate Mitigation Project’ was carried out in two phases.

The first phase involved the installation of 308kWp solar photovoltaic systems in 3 buildings, explained the ministry – Thinadhoo School, Aboobakuru School, and the Powerhouse Building. During phase two, 250kWp solar photovoltaic systems were installed in two additional buildings – the Dr Abdul Samad Memorial Hospital and mosque.

“In addition to the solar PV component, energy conservation and efficiency activities were also carried out as part of this project. In this regard, energy audits of 20 different places were conducted, which includes government buildings, private offices and households,” said a ministry statement.

Based on the findings of the audits, energy efficient inverter air conditioners LED bulbs and LED tube lights were provided to the selected buildings.

Additionally, 5,000 LED bulbs were distributed to households in Thinadhoo under the energy efficiency demonstration component.

At today’s ceremony – which was attended by Progressive Party of Maldives MPs Ahmed Nihan and Saudhulla Hilmy as well as Fenaka Corporation Managing Director Mohamed Nimal – Thoriq reiterated the government’s objective of generating up to 30 percent of electricity used during daylight hours in all inhabited islands within the next four years.

Diesel fuel currently accounts for the bulk of the energy supply in the country – about 82.5% in 2009.

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.

The Maldives’ 109 resorts use 49 percent of the US$470 million diesel imported into the country annually. The figure amounts to over a third of the country’s GDP. The capital Malé uses 90 percent of the inhabited islands’ energy consumption.

A 100 percent solar-powered luxury resort called Gasfinolhu is meanwhile scheduled to open for business in January 2015.

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Government targets generating 30 percent of electricity from renewable sources

The government has announced a five-year target to generate 30 percent of electricity used during daylight hours in the 196 inhabited islands of the Maldives from renewable energy sources.

Briefing the press today on the UN Climate Summit 2014 held yesterday, Environment Minister Thoriq Ibrahim that efforts were already underway to install solar panels in some islands such as Thinadhoo in Gaaf Dhaal atoll.

“Electricity will be provided from solar panels in Dhaal Kudahuvadhoo, Raa Ungoofaru and Kaafu Dhiffushi very soon. Work is underway in an additional five islands,” the minister was quoted as saying by newspaper Haveeru.

The government was in the process of formulating a low carbon energy policy, he said.

Referring to the impact of climate change on the Maldives, Thoriq noted that 116 islands were facing beach erosion, with severe erosion in 64 islands.

Coastal protection projects have been undertaken in several islands, he added.


Week in review: May 10 – 16

The reverberations of the the deputy prosecutor general’s resignation continued to be felt across the criminal justice system this week.

Despite the Supreme Court’s order for confused state prosecutors to return to work, the majority of cases continued to be cancelled as the courts struggled to adjudicate on the leadership vacuum at the PG’s Office.

This confusion was typified by Drug Court Judge Mahaz Ali, who expressed his disagreement with the government’s suggestion that a ‘state of necessity’ existed, enabling the most senior state prosecutor to assume the office’s responsibilities.

While the Supreme Court announced the formation of a committee to review current judicial laws, the judicial watchdog said it would look into Judge Mahaz’s blogging.

Further examination into a large crack in the Meedhoo Island reef will be required as experts admitted that the long-term effects of the 13 metre fissure were unknown.

The discovery was made amid a mammoth 20 hectare reclamation project on the island conducted by Boskalis International. The Dutch company – currently conducting numerous projects in the country – came under this fire week for what local NGOs have called “environmental crimes” during its recent dredging activities.

The accusations did not stop authorities mooting Boskalis as the likely partner for the government’s second reclamation phase of the Hulhumalé development project.

Speaking at the launch of another Boskalis project in Thulusdhoo, President Abdulla Yameen urged the Anti-Corruption Commission to expedite stalled cases concerning infrastructure projects.

Reclamation projects could take on a new urgency should this week’s prediction from climate change experts prove true, as it was revealed that the collapse of antarctic glaciers has the potential to increase sea levels by 1.2 metres in coming centuries.

The completion of a Japanese sponsored solar energy project this week will be scant consolation to pessimists.

Pessimism regarding the buoyancy of the country’s democracy was evident in Transparency Maldives Democracy at Crossroads’ survey this week which revealed extraordinarily high levels of cynicism within the electorate.

Skepticism was also evident at the Human Rights Commission’s ‘National Inquiry on Access to Education for Children with Disabilities’ as parents questioned the state’s efforts to provide education to all.

The Capital Market Development Authority meanwhile was optimistic that the country can be developed into a global financial centre, while the Maldives Monetary Authority (MMA)warned that further fiscal “slippages” would undermine the country’s debt sustainability.

The prospect of increased wage expenditure by the government receded once more, however, as the president returned the pay commission bill to the Majlis for the third time this week.

The MMA’s warning was not enough to prevent President Yameen pledging MVR1 million to the national football team, should it reach the last four of the AFC Cup – scheduled to start in Malé and Addu next week.

Visiting football fans who take a liking to the country’s southernmost atoll will soon be able to return to stay in one of the 2000 guesthouse beds that Addu City Council aims to develop via its Guesthouse Tourism Promotion Board.

Finally, suggestions by the US State Department that Maldivian authorities were aware of funds being raised for terrorism abroad were rejected, as were the Maldivian Democratic Party’s suggestions that the extremist ideologies were becoming prevalent within the security services.


Germany grants €3million for climate protection project

The governments of the Maldives and Germany yesterday signed a climate protection agreement that will see the granting of €3million from the European partner.

Launching the scheme at the Ministry of Environment and Energy, the Minister of State for Environment and Energy Abdul Matheen Mohamed expressed his gratitude to Ms. Randa Kourieh-Ranarivelo – Sri Lanka Country Director for German development firm GIZ – who signed the agreement on behalf of the German government.

GIZ – ‘Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit’ or the German Society for International Cooperation – is a corporation working in close alignment with the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.

“The physical component under this project is to install photo voltaic (PV) systems in Raa atoll Ungoofaru island and Dhaalu atoll Kudahuvadhoo island,” a press release from the ministry explained.

“Under this project 119 kW of grid connected PV system will be installed in Ungoofaaru and 166 kW of grid connected PV system will be installed in Kudahuvadhoo.”

Whilst €800,000 is allocated for the solar panel project, the remaining allocation will go towards ‘soft components’ such as preparing a renewable energy investment guideline and developing low-carbon guidelines for resorts.

The ministry expects the physical component of the project to begin in February and for the work to be completed in 6 months.

The Maldives was pledged a further €4million from the European Union earlier this month to address climate change in the low-lying island nation.

In a recent report titled ‘Turn Down The Heat’, the World Bank reasserted the urgent need for concerted efforts to support the Maldives in adapting to climate change, due to a projected sea level rise of 115 centimetres by 2090.

In the document, a 4 degree Celsius (7.2 degrees Fahrenheit) global temperature increase was predicted by the end of the 21st century unless concerted action is taken immediately.

Based on the report’s findings, the World Bank has highlighted the urgent need for concerted efforts to support the Maldives in adapting to climate change.

As one of the lowest-lying countries in the world, with an average elevation of 1.5 meters above sea level, the Maldives is extremely vulnerable to the effects of climate change, such as sea level rise.

“The Maldives is one of the most vulnerable nations to climate change impacts and has set best practice examples in adapting to climate change consequences,” stated Ivan Rossignol, World Bank Acting Country Director for Sri Lanka and the Maldives.

The current administration, under recently elected President Abdulla Yameen, is in the process of formulating a series of 100-day goals, though it has yet to set-out clear policies on the environment.

Climate change failed to feature in either Yameen’s, nor this main challenger Mohamed Nasheed’s election campaigns.

Former President Nasheed’s efforts to raise awareness of climate change – most notably at the 2009 Climate Change Forum in Copenhagen –  brought international acclaim and significant donor aid to the Maldives.