North-Central Indian Ocean - The President of Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed, said Sunday in a statement, that within the next ten years the Maldives, an island nation located in the Indian Ocean, has plans to shift entirely to renewable energy sources in an effort to become the world's first carbon-neutral country. "We aim to become carbon-neutral in a decade," he said.
The country plans to fight climate change, which literally threatens its very existence. In 2007, a U.N. climate change panel predicted a rise in sea levels of 58 cm (23 inches) by the end of the century, which would cause many of the Maldives' 1,192 islands to be submerged by 2100.
By shifting from fossil fuels to wind and solar power, and by purchasing and destroying EU carbon credits in an effort to offset tourist air travel emissions, the country will become completely carbon neutral.
"Climate change threatens us all. Countries need to pull together to de-carbonise the world economy," Nasheed said in a statement. "We know cutting greenhouse gas emissions is possible and the Maldives is willing to play its part."
The plan itself will cost $1.1 billion. To meet the energy needs of the island it will require 155 separate 1.5 Megawatt wind turbines and half a square kilometer of solar panels. This will deliver enough energy for 385,000 individuals. The program also includes the installation of a battery backup system in the event that the solar and wind sources are not enough. They hope to operate a plant from coconut husks in Male, the capital.
The electricity monopoly will be privatized and state owned, even being open to donor and investors.
Maldives currently imports diesel fuel to power its islands. Within 10 years the new plan is expected to pay for itself in oil import savings alone.
"It's going to cost a lot of money but it will also save a lot of money from not having to import oil," Nasheed said.