Largest photovoltaic solar energy plant on the Maldives goes online

"As solar radiation here is about 70 percent higher than in Germany, photovoltaics is the central component of the energy turnaround on the Maldives", says Stefan Riel, co-founder of Wirsol Solar AG. It is the first German company which has installed solar systems in the sunny paradise with an output of 652 kW. The global project developer from Baden-Württemberg wants to build at least 20 MW more over the next few years.

Power is almost exclusively produced by diesel generators on the Maldives. Noise and air pollution are the consequences for the island state in the Indian Ocean. The roughly 1,200 islands in the Maldives predominately lie no more than one metre above the rising sea level.

This type of power production is also extremely expensive. The costs for one kilowatt hour of diesel are currently about 29 US cents. The Maldives spend roughly 17 percent of its gross national product on the import of diesel, while the price for fuel is constantly rising. The island state has therefore decided to be the first country to produce its entire power requirements by using regenerative energy sources. It wants to achieve this ambitious goal by 2020.

The Maldives are mainly being supported with their energy turnaround plans by Germany. "German companies have been able to gain a global advantage in the project development of photovoltaic systems. These engineering qualities are now benefiting a region, which is more drastically affected by climate change than almost any other", says Christian von Stetten, Honorary Consul of the Maldives and Member of the German conservative Party CDU.

The solar plants installed by Wirsol Solar AG are already producing about 1.1 million kilowatt hours of power a year now. Up to 316,000 litres of diesel are saved and roughly 770 tons of carbon dioxide are prevented with these photovoltaic installations alone in the same period. "Solar plants are an economical means for replacing conventional energy production with diesel fuel here", explains Dr. Thomas Walter, head of Wirsol Asia Pacific (APAC).

Wirsol, who operates the photovoltaic plants on its own account, has formed a joint venture with Renewable Energy Maldives (REM). The climate-neutral power produced in this way is sold on to the state energy supplier STELCO.

"Further savings of up to 25,000 tons of carbon dioxide in total should be achieved with the new installations of solar plants to the tune of 20 MW", says the head of the joint venture, Dr. Ibrahim Nashid.