Solar Water Pumping for the Maldives Islands

Solar Energy Systems Ltd (SES) secured funding for a feasibility and pilot study to investigate the opportunity of selling solar powered water services to island communities and resorts in the Maldives.

Osborne Park, Australia – May 13, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] The terms of the AUD$120,000 (US$79,000) pre-commercial funding package, which has been provided by the Dutch Solar Investment Fund through Triodos International Fund Management, will allow SES to begin pilot testing of the building and operating of mini-utilities to sell potable water on islands through its Solarflow water purification system. “The Maldives represent a perfect market for the Solarflow as the communities are generally small, the cost of alternative supply is high, and the underground water lens (aquifer) generally present beneath islands represents a suitable water source,” said SES Managing Director, Anthony Maslin. The Maldives comprise 87 resort islands and 198 government funded community inhabited islands. Water supply is an ongoing problem for these islands with 98 percent of freshwater being drawn from contaminated water lenses beneath the islands, and resorts importing bottled water at a cost of approximately $AUD1.00 (US$.64) per liter. “By establishing a decentralized water infrastructure business, SES can profitably deliver a water service for a fraction of this cost, simultaneously delivering significant benefits to these communities,” Maslin said. To be provided in the form of a loan and grant, the funding will be used to finance the installation of two Solarflow Water purification systems and support preparatory work and business planning. In addition, funding will assist in the formation of a joint venture between SES and its local Maldives partner – Water, Energy Biodiversity Foundation (WEB). “New business models in new geographic markets are high risk for any company,” Maslin said. “We have been lucky to find a financier that understands the potential benefits to communities in developing countries if this model is successful, and has agreed to share much of the risk at this pre-commercial phase. Without such support it is unlikely that we would be able to pursue this strategy at this stage of SES’ development.” SES will present a paper relating to the Maldives Feasibility Study at the Renewable Energy Solutions for Island Tourism and Water Conference in Crete this month, organized by the European Renewable Energy Council and supported by the European Commission. Between two and three hundred delegates are expected to attend the conference in late May.
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