Electricity restored on Thinadhoo after powerhouse fire

Electricity restored on Thinadhoo after powerhouse fire
February 01 14:51 2016

The state utility company has restored electricity on the southern population hub of Thinadhoo after a powerhouse fire left residents without power for four days.

Two diesel generators were set up on Saturday evening and a third was brought in today.

“We have had 24 hours of electricity everyday since Saturday, and the island is back to normal,” said Ahmed Naseer, the president of the Thinadhoo council.

Thinadhoo, the capital of Gaaf Dhaal Atoll, is home to some 5000 people.

The powerhouse fire on Tuesday destroyed three generators and solar panels installed on its roof. The fire caused some MVR22million (US$1.4million) in damages.

State utility Fenaka Corporation said it could take up to three months to rebuild the powerhouse.

Renewable energy expert Ibrahim Nashid has called on Fenaka to “move away from diesel and move into renewables.” Solar panels capable of generating 500 kilo watts of energy had been laid on public roofs and can be restored quickly, he said.

“Renewable energy storage technology has improved recently and the costs are coming down rapidly to be competitive with diesel,” he wrote in a Facebook post. Batteries can be used to power critical facilities such as hospitals and schools, he noted.

“Such a solution would improve the reliability and availability of the power system as a whole. Such solutions can be installed very quickly. The modifications required on a grid the size of Thinadhoo would be minimal to incorporate renewables with energy storage.”

The police said they have not yet determined the cause of the fire.

Temporary generators were brought in on Tuesday and Wednesday to restore power at the regional hospital, the bank and the university dormitory.

The island ran out of kerosene on Tuesday and its council brought in jet fuel from the nearby domestic airport to light up lanterns.

Many families were forced to sleep outside because of the heat. School children made and distributed paper fans to households.

Photo by Fenaka
Additional reporting by Hassan Moosa