Saturday, December 18, 2004

Alternative Energy Maldives: Solar Power for Water Purification

A solar energy powered, off-grid, water purification project will begin in the Maldives in January 2005, providing local bottled drinking water to be sold to the community on the island of Kulhudhuffushi.

The project, two years in development, is a joint venture between Solco and a local Maldives company.

The Maldives Foreign Investment Services Bureau has identified twenty islands as having suitable water supplies and a sustainable population base for the units.

The units use solar power to draw the water up and pass it through a system of reverse osmosis units to remove all pathogens, metals and dissolved solids, using just 20% of the power of a standard reverse osmosis unit.

Each unit can produce 500 litres of water per day from a single 100 Watt (1 square metre) solar panel. Most systems using reverse osmosis are usually powered by diesel. Using solar power can be both cheaper (based on per litre cost) and avoid air pollution.

Two obstacles to renewable energy powered infrastructures in remote areas have been high up-front capital costs and the difficulties ensuring maintenance of the system. Using a new business model where the water itself is sold rather than the purification equipment have helped avoid these.

This is also applicable in other off-grid island communities such as Indonesia and the Philippines.

Solco expect to be able to six litres of clean water for less than 10 cents (U.S.) per person per day.

full text of Edie article on clean water project in the Maldives