A regional waste management centre on Monday generated electricity from waste for the first time in the Maldives.
The system installed by the environment ministry on Vandhoo island in Raa atoll produces electricity using heat, explained Ahmed Murthaza, director general of the waste management and pollution department at the ministry.
“The waste is burned to produce steam from heat. Then the steam is transferred to a turbine which produces electricity,” he told the Maldives Independent.
The industrial island of Vandhoo uses up to 250 kilowatts of electricity per day. The waste energy plant can produce up to 500 kilowatts daily, according to Murthaza.
The US$6 million project was financed by the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development.
The initial plan when the proposal was submitted was to install the system on both Vandhoo and another island. But the fund granted only half the money needed for the project, according to the ministry.
“Historic day. Electricity was produced from waste for the first time today in Maldives. This was done in the Vandhoo Waste Management Center. The government’s pledge to make this a profitable operation will soon be completed,” Environment Minister Dr Hussain Rasheed Hassan tweeted on Monday.
Some 94 percent of electricity in the Maldives is produced from diesel and about 30 percent of the country’s GDP is spent on importing fossil fuels.
The Vandhoo waste management centre was set up to cover four northern atolls – Noonu, Raa, Baa and Lhaviyani – with plans to process 52 tons of waste daily from 45 inhabited islands, 30 resorts and nine industrial islands.
The environment minister told newspaper Mihaaru of plans to build a larger waste energy plant on the island of Thilafushi near the capital Malé, which experts estimate could produce 8.5 megawatts.
The capital and more than 30 surrounding islands in the central atolls – home to half the population – generate 774 tons per day of mixed solid waste, which is dumped and openly burned on Thilafushi, creating “an environmental and public health hazard,” according to the Asian Development Bank.