While solar enthusiasts were still celebrating President Obama’s decision to install solar panels on the White House roof, 9,000 miles away, Mohamed Nasheed was on the roof of his residence in Male, the capital of the Maldive islands, installing the last panels in his new 11.5 kW solar array.
Of course, people throughout the world install solar PV every day. What makes Nasheed’s work noteable, is that he is president of the Maldives, and the panels were going up on the Mulee Aage, the ‘White House’ of that island nation.
“The Maldives stands at the front line of climate change and we don’t have the luxury of time to sit and wait for the rest of the world to act,” said Nasheed. “We are getting to work to start the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy.”
With average elevation of 1.5 meters above sea level (just under five feet), the Maldives is extraordinarily vulnerable to climate-caused sea level increase.
The solar installation is just one part of the president’s plan to become the first carbon-neutral nation by 2020, a goal Nasheed announced in March, 2009.
He explained the reasons behind the ambitious goal in a BBC interview at the time.
“Basically, we don’t want to sit around and blame others, but we want to do whatever we can, and hopefully, if we can become carbon-neutral, and when we come up with the plan, we hope that these plans also will serve as a blueprint for other nations to follow. We think we can do it, we feel that everyone should be engaged in it, and we don’t think that this is an issue that should be taken lightly.”
The solar system was designed by California-based Sungevity using 50 PV panels made by the Korean electronics giant, LG. Other major components were manufactured by KACO manufacturing.