Eco-travelers looking for an island getaway, listen up. The Maldives – a small, tropical island nation in the Indian Ocean – is officially raising the bar for green tourism all around the world.
Gasfinolhu Island – approximately 40 minutes from Malé – is now house to the first ever 100 percent solar-powered high-end resort, developed by Global Pvt Ltd. Nearly 6,500 square meters of the resort, which will be operated by Club Med, feature solar panels capable of producing up to 1100 Kilowatts at power peak when the island really only needs around 600 Kilowatts at peak load.
“The happiest moments are when I can see that the lights are still functioning after all the diesel generators have been switched off,” said ‘Champa’ Hussain Afeef, Gasfinolhu’s owner.
Dubbed as a chief tourism developer in the Maldives, Afeef first thought of the project in 2009, Minivan News reports. At the time, the island nation announced it would become the planet’s first carbon neutral country by 2020.
“We wanted to do something different. I believe renewable energy is not just the future for tourism, but for all other industries as well,” he said.
The resort’s power system is completely programmed and includes computers that switch systems between direct solar power, battery power, or diesel generators, as required.
Surplus power created in the daytime is stored in a large-scale battery system, which then in turn can power the resort throughout the night. As backup, the site includes three diesel generators in case there are consecutive days of rain and the batteries run out.
Gasfinolhu also counts on a centralized “chiller system” that uses cold water to cool air for air-conditioning purposes. In addition, a zero waste management system will also be established on the island in the coming years, Environmental Consultant Ahmed Shaig said.
Ibrahim Nashid, the chairman of Renewable Energy Maldives Pvt Ltd, said Gasfinolhu exhibits that “it is possible to provide power from indigenous energy sources without compromising luxury comfort.”
He added, “They also say that it would deter from aesthetics on a luxury resort, but Gasfinolhu destroys all of these myths. Its architecture is beautiful, some have said it’s the solar paneled spaces on the island that are the most beautiful.”
The resort is expected to open its doors by January 2015 and cost $8 million to build; according to Afeef, however, all money spent on the environmental system will be recovered within six to seven years.
“I hope this initiative will turn out to be a success. And I hope to see more and more resort developers employing such technologies in the future,” Afeef said.