New Standard in Green Tourism – Fully Solar Powered Maldives Resort
New Standard in Green Tourism – Fully Solar Powered Maldives Resort – The sparsely vegetated sandbank, approximately 40 minutes from Malé, Gasfinolhu Island is the first 100 percent solar-powered luxury resort in the world. While setting a higher standard for the tourism sector in Maldives, Gasfinolhu owner ‘Champa’ Hussain Afeef, one of the pioneers of the tourism industry in the Maldives, believes renewable energy should be the future of all industries. The resort, developed by Global Pvt Ltd will be operated by Club Med and will open for business in January 2015.
Even though the island only requires 600 Kilowatts at peak load at full occupancy, Gasfinolhu’s 6,500 square meters of solar panel are capable of producing 1100 Kilowatts at power peak. Surplus power generated during the daytime is stored in an extensive battery system, hence being capable of powering the resort throughout the night. Furthermore three diesel generators are always on standby in case of an emergency. In addition to solar power, a zero waste management system will also be installed on the island in the future.
Gasfinolhu demonstrates that it is possible to provide power from indigenous energy sources without compromising luxury comfort. The project also debunks several myths on the use of solar energy in the Maldives. The Maldives’ 109 resorts use 49 percent of the US$470 million diesel imported into the country annually. The figure totals to over a third of the country’s GDP. The capital city itself, uses 90 percent of the inhabited islands’ energy consumption. If the resorts and Malé transition to renewable energy, it liberates more money to state funds for health and education, and increases the country’s energy security.
As stated by Afeef, Gasfinolhu will recover a total of $8 million spent on the solar system within the next few years. However, without a solar power system, Gasfinolhu would spend over $1.5 million to fuel power its 30 water bungalows and 22 rooms on the beach front. Normally, a resort with a vast 200 to 300 beds would spend over $4 million on fuel per year. However, it would not be cost effective for these existing resorts to transition to solar power all at once. A gradual transition was advised by Afeef, by redesigning and converting facilities that consume electricity the most such as the laundry, desalination plant and kitchen to solar power first.