The Maldivian government and Asian Development Bank (ADB) integrated solar-diesel hybrid power plants across 48 islands across eight atolls with an energy production capacity of 7.5 megawatts.
Established under ADB's 'Preparing Outer Islands for Sustainable Energy Development Project' (POISED) initiative, the government plans to launch the hybrid power plants on 160 islands across 20 atolls in its largest energy sector intervention to date. The project was co-financed by the European Investment Bank, Climate Investment Funds and the Japan Fund for the Joint Crediting Mechanism (JFJCM).
Speaking at the ceremony held at Hotel Jen in capital city Male' on Thursday, Minister of Environment Dr Hussain Rasheed Hassan stated that Maldivian energy consumption is on the rise, adding that Male' alone faces an increase of 10 percent annually.
As it stands, Maldives' electricity production is solely reliant on imported fossil fuels, with 10 percent of the GDP utilized for energy needs. In order to make electricity affordable, the government allocates over MVR 1 billion as subsidies annually.
Maldivians currently spend MVR 3.7 for each kilowatt of energy generated via diesel. The minister revealed that with the inception of the hybrid power stations, the price of energy has reduced by 140 percent and stands at MVR 1.54 per kilowatt. Maldives is capable of generating 21.5 megawatts of energy through renewable sources.
Dr Hussain stated that the ministry aims to produce 20 percent of all energy requirements through renewable energy by 2023, further revealing that an additional 21 megawatts of solar energy are planned to be introduced in 2020.
Minister of National Planning and Infrastructure Mohamed Aslam also addressed the gathering, stating that Maldives can and should work towards a minimum target of producing 30 percent of Maldives' energy needs through solar by 2023, as opposed to the 20 percent proposed by the Environment Ministry.
He added that the government must incentivize solar installation for private individuals through housing loan schemes that promote establishing means of renewable energy production.
The ceremony was attended by ADB's Director for South Asia Energy Division Priyantha Wijayatunga, ADB senior representatives, state ministers and other officials of the environment ministry.