Renewing our commitment with Wave Swell Energy – Brining Wave Energy to the Maldives



The Maldives is among the most geographically dispersed countries; spread over 90,000  square kilometers, with only 192 of its 1,192 islands being inhabited. Providing electricity to these dispersed islands that have no conventional resources of energy, means that the country is overwhelmingly dependent on imported fossil fuel, and therefore vulnerable to fuel price  volatility. Island-based distributed generation is the only viable option for most of the islands, while some level of grid integration across the more populated islands near the capital can occur. 

Despite these challenges, access to electricity is universal in the Maldives, and the Government of Maldives (GoM) is constitutionally obligated to ensure the provision of electricity to every inhabited island at a reasonable standard. The National Energy Policy and Strategy is centered around creating an enabling environment for the growth of a reliable and sustainable energy sector.

Renewable energy (RE) resources in the Maldives are sizable but yet to be developed, with the exception of a few pilot projects. As per the SREP Investment Plan, Maldives’ wind potential is estimated at 10-20MW, waste-to-energy at 20MW and heat recovery up to 10MW. Wave Energy, biomass, deep seawater utilization for cooling and other advanced technologies are also deemed feasible.

The Maldives relies predominantly on expensive diesel fuel for its electricity generation. The SREP report suggests that the average electricity tariff in the Maldives (across different customer segments) is sufficient to support a feed-in-tariff of between 20-35 US cents per kWh. Detailed financial modeling will be needed to assess whether this is sufficient to structure financially viable projects.

Climate change impacts coastal erosion from sea level rise, and storm surges, sea swells and storm generated waves have increased over the last decades. Over 80% of the island face erosion issues, specifically in 2014, 116 (61.7%) inhabited islands reported erosion, out of which 38% reported severe erosion status (MEE,2017). Currently, about 30 islands are identified as critically eroded islands, with impacts ranging from loss of beaches, vegetation, damages to human settlements, loss of critical infrastructure and flooding and inundation due to storm surges. Thus sea walls for coastal protection are considered inevitable.

A solution that can address all these issues is of significant importance to the Maldives. The Wave Swell Energy (WSE) technology is both a climate change mitigation measure (displacing CO2 emitting diesel generation in favour of a clean emissions-free renewable resource) and a climate change adaptation measure (providing the ability to adapt to the inevitable effects of some level of climate change). 

A technology such as WSE’s provides an ideal solution for a nation like the Maldives. It is envisaged the WSE technology, even at the scale of individual units, will be capable of generating electricity at lower cost than that currently experienced by the majority of resort islands. It is also hopeful that it can provide lower cost energy on more populated islands like Male. And this is before considering the technology will be sharing costs with the need for coastal protection. 

When coastal protection requirements are factored into the financial equation, it is expected the WSE technology will be even more cost-effective. Cost sharing between renewable wave energy projects and seawalls will result in significant savings for both endeavours. In the case of what would have been a ‘sunk cost’ for the funders of a seawall, this infrastructure will instead be a revenue generator.

For this reason, it is envisaged that the WSE technology has significant potential for adoption in the Maldives. It is Tendon’s intention to coordinate the development of WSE projects in the nation. Preliminary discussions with the Maldivian Government have met with a positive response.

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