A Chinese renewable energy firm signed an agreement with the Maldives earlier this week to provide a hybrid solar-diesel power system in the inhabited islands of an atoll south of capital Male.
Sino Soar Hybrid (Beijing) Technology Co. Ltd won the bid for the mini-grid project in August. Maldives environment minister Shauna Aminath and the company’s project manager signed the agreement on Monday.
The ADB-supported project is for design, supply, installation and maintenance of a grid-tied solar PV-diesel hybrid power project in 12 islands of Thaa atoll, 220 km south of Male. One of the islands in the atoll is Thimarafushi, a well-known tourist destination.
Sino Soar project is part of a larger endeavour by the Maldives with ADB assistance to transform its existing power grids into a hybrid renewable energy system.
Earlier this year, Sri Lanka called off a similar project by Sino Soar in three islets off Jaffna, 45 km from Rameswaram, due to strong objections conveyed to Colombo by New Delhi. The project, also funded by ADB, was to have come up in the islets of Delft, Analathivu and Nainathivu in the Palk Bay. Delft is closest to India, and China had at the time protested the “outrageous interference” by “a third party” on grounds of “so-called self-security”.
On Wednesday, the Chinese embassy in Sri Lanka in a tweet, which had a thinly veiled revenge tone, stated: “Sino Soar Hybrid Technology, being suspended to build Hybrid Energy system in 3 northern islands of Sri Lanka due to ‘security concern’ from third party, has inked a contract with Malidivan govt on 29 November to establish solar power plants at 12 islands in Maldives.”
Minister Aminath tweeted that the project for a “total of 2.5 MW of solar PV, 975 kW of Battery Energy Storage Systems and other related works in all the inhabited islands in thaa atoll …will reduce emissions by 2900 tns of CO2 and save approx mvr 12 million annually”.