A leading advocate of the cause of sustainable small islands has said that this year’s devastating hurricane season in the Caribbean such as Puerto Rico strengthens the case for more investment in renewable energy sources and microgrids.
Thoriq Ibrahim, who is the energy and environment minister for the Maldives and chair of the Alliance of Small Island States, urged the international community gathering at the Bonn climate talks last month to be faster and bolder in progress on clean energy. He said the storms should be an “impetus to reimagine power generation in a warming world.”
The recent storms remind us of the many advantages of renewables and one solution in particular stands out: microgrids,” Thoriq Ibrahim said. “These localised electric grids allow communities to keep power even if centralised systems go down. The technology essentially acts as a small-scale power plant – combining solar panels and wind turbines with batteries to keep electricity flowing. Transmission lines can even connect microgrids to the larger grid – in some cases leading to a monthly check for homeowners.”
His comments, made in an article for Climate Home, came in the wake of the inaugural meeting in the Maldives of the Initiative for Renewable Island Energy (IRIE), gathering 14 environment and energy ministers representing small island and low-lying coastal communities from around the world.
Moving to integrated renewable energy sources makes economic sense too,” added Ibrahim in his article. “It avoids the high cost of installing transmission lines, which could simply be knocked down next hurricane season. For other islands, such as my own, the Maldives, which spend a disproportionate amount of our budgets on fossil fuels, the technology is an attractive alternative.
The minister stressed the importance of overcoming hurdles such as financing, where he said getting support across multiple partnerships would help avoid duplication and maximise efficiency.