The Maldives’ State Electric Company Limited, STELCO, have signed a 20-year agreement with Falcon Energy, whereby Falcon Energy will build and operate a 75 megawatt wind farm in Gaafaru island, North Male’ atoll.
The wind farm will produce clean electricity for North Male’ atoll, which includes Male’ island, the Maldivian capital, the international airport island of Hulhule’ and a number of luxury tourist resorts.
The $200 million foreign direct investment will see the construction of the latest generation wind turbines, which will be connected to the electricity grid of Male’ through a network of submarine electricity cables.
On windy days, excess electricity generated by the turbines will be used to run a water desalination plant, which will produce bottled drinking water. On calm days, a liquefied natural gas plant will provide 50MW of back-up power.
The project will provide an economic windfall for the remote island of Gaafaru. Many of the island’s 800 inhabitants will be offered lucrative jobs in maintaining the wind farm equipments and facilities.
Once operational, the wind farm will allow the inhabited and resort islands in North Male’ atoll to switch off their existing diesel power generators.
GE Energy will carry out a technical feasibility assessment, and based on the results of the study it will develop a comprehensive proposal around GE Energy’s power generation technology for the Project and technical assistance for both wind turbine generators and back up liquid fuel generator.
The plan was unveiled on Monday 2 November at a ceremony attended by Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed and representatives from GE Energy, Falcon Energy and STELCO, at the STELCO head office in Male’.
Speaking at the ceremony, President Nasheed said the government understood the importance of breaking the Maldives’ dependence on the unpredictable price of foreign oil.
He added, the government’s shift to wind was due to “environmental consciousness and financial prudence.”
The President reiterated his belief that the winners of the 21st century would be “the countries who were ready to embrace renewable energy and green technologies.”
He said, “We want the Maldives to be a winner of the 21st century.”
“We want the Maldives to be the place to test renewables. We want the Maldives to be the place to build renewables. We want the Maldives to be the place to invest in renewables. We will position the Maldives as a showcase for renewable energy”, added the President.
Kishore Jayaraman, President and CEO, GE Energy, India Region, said, “It is a moment of great pride for all of us at GE Energy to be associated with the Maldives government’s goal to realize their vision of green energy development. To boost investment in renewable energy, it is essential to introduce clear, stable and long-term policies and the Maldives government is providing that necessary policy support. GE looks forward to undertaking a feasibility study to determine the potential of this region.”
“At GE, we understand that renewable energy will be an integral part of the world energy mix. The world needs reliable, affordable and clean supply of electric power with zero greenhouse gas emissions, which is why GE continues to drive investment and research in cutting-edge technologies to power the world responsibly. Our commitment is to help our partners and customers design and implement renewable energy solutions for their unique energy needs”, Mr. Jayaraman further adds.
Hassan Zahir, Chairman of STELCO, said, “STELCO is pleased to be a part of this major project in renewable energy. We are committed to diverse electricity generation to renewable sources, and to make Maldives a carbon neutral country within a decade, as planned by the President his Excellency Mohamed Nasheed. Hence, today we are taking an important step to achieve this goal, and are confident that it will help to drive in others in the power sector to invest in renewable energy sources.”
In March, President Nasheed announced plans to make the Maldives carbon neutral in 10 years. A shift from oil to renewable energy production lies at the heart of the Maldives’ carbon neutral plan.
Chris Goodall of Oxford Climate Associates, who developed the Maldives’ carbon neutral plan, said the Gaafaru project would reduce the Maldives’ carbon dioxide emissions by up to 25%.
GE Energy (www.ge.com/energy) is one of the world’s leading suppliers of power generation and energy delivery technologies, with 2008 revenue of $29.3 billion. Based in Atlanta, Georgia, GE Energy works in all areas of the energy industry including coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear energy; renewable resources such as water, wind, solar and biogas; and other alternative fuels. Numerous GE Energy products are certified under ecomagination, GE’s corporate-wide initiative to aggressively bring to market new technologies that will help customers meet pressing environmental challenges.
Falcon Energy and it’s partner WGS has commissioned onshore and offshore wind farms totalling 1,500 MW over the past ten years, in the UK, Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Canada.
STELCO, is owned by the Government of Maldives whose core business includes power generation, distribution and retail. STELCO has its largest operation in Male’ with an installed capacity of 38.76MW, and a 26 km underground 11kV distribution network feeding power to 99 distribution transformers to provide electricity to over 25,000 customers.