Maldives Drives Innovation to Stay Afloat

Male, the capitol city of Maldives

A picturesque view of Male, the capitol city of Maldives.

Written by: Nick Mingay

MALDIVES – The small island chain set a goal to offset its greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, but if the rest of the world does not follow and world carbon emissions fall Maldives could be completely underwater by the end of the century.

The archipelago of 1,190 islands is the lowest elevated county in the world. The average elevation is just one and  a half meters above sea level, leaving it susceptible if the sea levels continue to rise.

Maldives spends approximately 15 percent of its GDP on Diesel fuel to provide power to the inhabitants of the islands. They are beginning to wane from that source of energy though. Wind turbines are starting to be completed on many of the southern islands.

Mohamed Nasheed, President of the Maldives, said he wants to be the example for the rest of the world to try and save his country from going underwater. Although creating clean energy is the only way to save his country, that is not the only reason to do it.

“For us this is an economic issue. It’s a financial issue. We are becoming carbon neutral because it is cheaper than fossil fuels,” Nasheed said.

Moving to cleaner energy is not an easy step to take. It takes investments over long periods of time and possible cuts to other areas of the budget. This may be the biggest reason why other countries have not been as forward about using cleaner energy, the cost is just too high at the moment.

Maldives’ economy thrives on tourism, which has been hit hard because of the state of the economy. It is not easy for the country to delve deep into its pockets for investment in clean energy, but it is necessary. The cost is especially hard for developing countries like Maldives.

“When cities, people and countries  develop, you have to pay a higher price. We’re trying to adjust these prices to very minimal,” Utility Chairman Ahmed Zareer said.

Other hindrances are effecting the construction of certain clean energy projects. The climate is not conducive to solar panels because of the corrosive nature of the salty environment, parts of the island chain receive hardly enough wind for turbines to be effective and there is little land mass for solar panels to have a particularly large impact.

These disadvantages come with the territory of living in paradise. But, they will not stop  Nasheed and the rest of the Maldives from trying anything they can to keep their country afloat.

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