Hotelier Maldives GM Forum 2023: Dr Simad Saeed highlights tourism net zero transformation

Dr Simad Saeed, Managing Director of CDE Consulting, delivered a presentation at the Hotelier Maldives General Managers (GM) Forum 2023, which was held at Bandos Maldives resort on October 19. The presentation was titled, ‘Tourism Net Zero Emissions Transformation’, and it highlighted the current situation, challenges and opportunities for Maldives to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the tourism sector and achieve net zero by 2030.

Current situation

Dr Saeed began his presentation by showing some alarming facts and figures about Maldives’ high dependence on fossil fuels and its impact on the environment and the economy. He said that Maldives imported 783,595 MT of fuel in 2022, out of which 648,552 MT was diesel (83%). He also said that diesel imports quadrupled in 22 years, from 163,000 MT in 2000 to 648,552 MT in 2022. This resulted in an unsustainable fuel import bill of USD 811.1 million in 2022, which amounted to USD 2.22 million per day.

He also showed that GHG emissions from Maldives were increasing at an annual rate of 11.6%, and that the per capita emissions were 4.1 tonnes, comparable to countries like Sweden, Denmark, UK, Turkey and Germany. He said that the tourism sector was the main contributor to GHG emissions, accounting for 40% (598.11 Gg) of the total emissions in 2015.

He then focused on the average diesel consumption per day per room in resorts, which varied from 46 litres in peak season to 130 litres in premium luxury. He said that 85% of the diesel was consumed for electricity generation, and that the average diesel consumption per bed night was 33.2 litres.

Key opportunities

Dr Saeed then shifted his attention to the key opportunities for Maldives to achieve tourism net zero emissions transformation by 2030. He said that there were four main drivers for this transformation: reduction in costs, clear demand signals, policy support and regulation, and alignment in capital market and financial system.

He said that the cost of renewable energy sources, such as solar photovoltaic (PV), had reduced significantly over the years, making them more affordable and competitive than fossil fuels. He said that solar PV cost had reduced by 99% since 1980, and that the current roof top solar PV cost was USD 650 per kW. He also said that the solar PV power purchase agreement (PPA) price was 0.109 US$ per kWh for a 5 MW project with a 10-year contract.

He also said that there was a clear demand signal from the tourists, who were increasingly conscious about the environmental impact of their travel choices and preferences. He said that tourists were willing to pay more for green resorts and services, and that they expected resorts to adopt sustainable practices and reduce their carbon footprint.

He also said that there was a strong policy support and regulation from the government, which had enacted the Water and Sewerage Act and the Climate Emergency Act in 2020. These acts mandated all sectors to achieve net zero emissions by 2030, and provided incentives and penalties for compliance and non-compliance respectively.

He also said that there was an alignment in the capital market and financial system, which enabled local financing for renewable energy projects. He said that the pension fund had invested in several solar PV projects in resorts, providing low-interest loans and equity financing.

Solar PV projects in resorts

Dr Saeed then presented some examples of active and planned solar PV projects in resorts, which showed the potential and progress of renewable energy adoption in the tourism sector. He said that there were 34.67 MW of active and planned solar PV projects in resorts, out of which 23.4 MW were active in 43 resorts and 11.27 MW were planned in six resorts.

He also showed some pictures of resorts that had installed solar PV systems on their roofs, water villas, jetties and other structures. He said that these resorts had reduced their diesel consumption and GHG emissions significantly, while saving on operational costs and enhancing their brand image.

Key challenges

Dr Saeed concluded his presentation by highlighting some of the key challenges that Maldives faced in achieving tourism net zero emissions transformation by 2030. He said that these challenges included high inflation, elevated interest rates, supply chain constraints and labour shortages, and focus on energy security with diesel.

He said that these challenges posed barriers to investment and implementation of renewable energy projects, and required coordinated efforts from all stakeholders, including the government, the private sector, the civil society and the international community.

He also said that there was a need for more awareness, education and capacity building among the resort owners, managers and staff, as well as the tourists, to promote and support the transition to a low-carbon tourism sector.

He ended his presentation by urging everyone to join hands and work together to make Maldives a tourism net zero emissions destination by 2030.

The Hotelier Maldives GM Forum 2023, which is the most anticipated event for hoteliers in the Maldives, was held at Bandos Maldives resort on October 19, 2023. The forum attracted over 100 hoteliers from various resorts and hotels in the Maldives. This year’s forum was sponsored by several leading companies in the hospitality sector, such as Ooredoo Maldives, Fuel Supplies Maldives, Far Horizon, Bestbuy Maldives, Manta Air, Coca-Cola Maldives, Alia Investments, Villa Hakatha, Swimsol, Souvenir Marine, and more.

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