The diffusion of renewable electricity technologies in Small Island Developing States: The case of the Maldives
Globally, the production of electricity has been heavily reliant on non-renewable resources. The situation in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) is no exception. Most SIDS, such as the Maldives, are highly dependent on imported oil for electricity production. However, renewable electricity technologies (RETs) have the potential to decrease the cost of electricity, reduce vulnerability to external economic shocks, improve access to electricity in remote areas, increase energy security, and decrease greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The existing literature fails to explain adequately the mechanisms through which the diffusion of RETs takes place, not least in SIDS. This study aims to improve our understanding of diffusion processes and thus explain why the diffusion of RETs in SIDS, such as the Maldives, has been so slow. The study draws on, and adapts, a systems approach, namely the technological innovation system (TIS) approach, in order to better understand the process of diffusion of RETs in SIDS. This study focuses on the Maldives. It applies a mixed methods approach and draws on qualitative and quantitative data from semi-structured interviews and a self-administered survey questionnaire. A six-step analytical process using the adapted TIS framework was applied to analyse the research findings. The study reveals five main findings. Firstly, the distinct features of the Maldives impede their capacity for energy transformation. These include the geographical dispersion of islands over a large area, and the limited space available to install some of the mature RETs, such as solar PV and onshore wind turbines. Moreover, the lack of a renewable resource base, also contribute to these challenges. Secondly, the government and international development partners have been the most significant actors driving the diffusion of RETs in the Maldives. Thirdly, it is political and economic factors that mainly contribute to the slow diffusion of RETs in the Maldives, rather than technical constraints. There are too few policy measures in place to support the diffusion of RETs. Fourthly, the lack of information about the economic feasibility of RETs continues to be a barrier to the diffusion of RETs in the Maldives. Fifthly, the study improved the understanding of the dynamics of TIS functions in the Maldives.