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'7.5 percent of Maldives' energy needs met by solar': President Solih

Ahmed Aiham
04 March 2020, MVT 12:06
President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih (R) and State Electric Company Limited (STELCO) Managing Director Hassan Mughunee, during the ceremony to mark the 70th anniversary of the state utilities company. PHOTO: AHMED AWSHAN ILYAS / MIHAARU
Ahmed Aiham
04 March 2020, MVT 12:06

President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih, on occasion of the 70th anniversary of the State Electric Company Ltd (STELCO), revealed that 7.5 percent of Maldives' energy production is generated through solar photovoltaic (PV) systems.

Speaking at the ceremony held at convention centre Dharubaaruge on Tuesday, President Solih noted that many efforts were made to further install solar systems during the administration's first year.

While Maldives is capable of generating 21.5 megawatts of energy through renewable sources, at the time of this publication, President Solih alluded to an additional 51 megawatts to be installed in 2020.

Currently, STELCO conserves 3500 litres of diesel on a daily basis, saving a total of MVR 1.2 million each month.

Minister of Environment Dr Hussain Rasheed Hassan previously iterated the ministry's aim to produce 20 percent of all energy requirements through renewable sources by 2023.

Various high-level officials throughout the Solih Administration, including the President himself, have advocated for further research into untapped renewable energy sources such as wind, swell and currents.

The President also launched a special book on the history of electricity services in the country and conferred the 'Life Time Award' to STELCO's employees who had served in the electrical sector for over 35 years.

Furthermore, a special recognition award was presented to individuals who made remarkable achievements within the industry.

"We will finish the journey we began to ensure our government's target of utilizing renewable energy in the provision of electricity and to further reduce electricity costs in a sustainable manner", said STELCO's Managing Director Hassan Mughunee, adding that more assessments will be undertaken to understand how it can provide around the clock electricity through renewable sources.

"Maldives has very high solar exposure, which makes this form of power generation efficient and economically sustainable. Besides, taking into account the country’s serious concerns regarding climate change, the move to solar is fundamental", said STELCO.

"The challenge lies in our geography. In contrast to other countries, Maldives does not have a central grid, but a myriad of micro-grids. One major power generating centre distributing power to a large population is not a model that works here".

In 2019, Mughunee declared that STELCO plans to produce 50 percent of its energy through solar within the next five years.

President highlighted STELCO's five-year plan as an ambitious move that would "exponentially increase the percentage of renewable energy in the national grid", further emphasising the economic benefits of reducing dependency on fossil fuels.

Beginning its service in 1947 with a production capacity of 14 kilowatts, the company now provides electricity to 35 islands with a total capacity of 180 megawatts through its 100 percent Maldivian staff.

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