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Solar panels, low consumption light bulbs and information courses on sustainability: the Milanese University Bicocca leaves for the Maldives, in the suitcase a program to convert an atoll of the archipelago to renewable energies, in a year. With the support of Caritas Italiana, the project takes place in the Faafu atoll and aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in one of the areas most at risk from the effects of global warming, as he says Paolo Galli, researcher of the Department of Biotechnology and Biosciences of the University and coordinator of the project.
1) Launch of the "Benefits from the use of renewables" program: what is it?
It is a pilot project in the Faafu atoll to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and counteract the negative effects of global warming. The islands of the Maldives in fact rise for less than one meter above the sea surface and the risk of submersion due to global warming, which causes a slow but constant rise in the water, is very real. For this reason, we have decided to carry out a project to reduce polluting emissions by mainly exploiting renewable sources such as the sun, wind and biomass. The one-year project has a total cost of 210 thousand euros.
2) What are the objectives of the project, concretely? Besides the university, who is involved?
The main objectives are the reduction of dependence on fossil fuels, the reduction of environmental degradation and ensure greater energy self-sufficiency especially for the most remote islands. The University of Milan-Bicocca, the Italian Caritas, also with an economic contribution of 50,000 euros, and clearly the Maldivian local authorities are involved in this project.
3) Why in the Maldives?
The Maldives islands they are a real frontier ecosystem for i risks related to global warming e all 'sea level rise whose effects can be studied directly. In the Maldives, the University of Milano-Bicocca is carrying out various research projects ranging from the study of the coral reef, a complex and fragile ecosystem whose state of health and coloration signals warming and acidification of the oceans, to safeguarding the biodiversity of the archipelago from natural and anthropogenic risks.
4) How will the installation of solar panels take place? What are your savings?
The installation, carried out by specialized local companies, has already started. On average at Maldives, for every 3kWh of electricity produced by solar panels, we can save one liter of diesel fuel. For each home, it would be enough to install a 2.5 kWp system to cover energy costs. Operation is very simple. The sun shines, the solar panels capture the light and transform it into direct current, which an inverter transforms into alternating current to be used in both public buildings and homes.
5) What advantages will it bring?
Currently, the average daily energy consumption is around 40-50 kWh. If you consider that panels will be installed capable of delivering 30 kWh and that every 3 kWh of electricity produced by the solar panels saves a liter of diesel, it is easy to understand how the system will be able to reduce by about 50% the need for fossil fuel. The advantages of a solar panel system are considerable: from having minimal maintenance costs, to avoiding the increase in the price of oil and eliminating the production of harmful emissions into the atmosphere.
6) What advantage instead with the installation of low consumption light bulbsenergetic?
All the old light bulbs located both in public places and in private residences will be replaced with new low energy consumption light bulbs of the latest generation. About 1,000 light points equipped with the new LEDs will lead to a further saving of about 20 kWh.
7) What does the educational part of the project consist of?
It is important that local populations are directly involved in education projects and that the experience of Magoodhoo can be a model for other nearby islands. We will therefore hold seminars to train those who will later be "ambassadors" to their local community, and will be focused on the effects of climate change, encouraging virtuous behaviors aimed at attention to the surrounding environment. Particular attention will be paid to young people: the students of the Magoodhoo school will be involved in the creation of videos to illustrate the environmental impact given by the non-use of renewable energies and how these, appropriately exploited, can mitigate the harmful effects of pollution. . The videos will be made in English and divheli, will be available on the main streaming platforms such as YouTube and will be presented to schools and local communities, thus allowing the dissemination of information to other communities distributed on nearby islands. Students are already busy blogging - playingwithsolar - in which they are describing their experience.
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