Maldives fisheries sector ripe for NatRef uptake

The Maldives’ second-largest economic sector, the fisheries industry, is now transitioning away from legacy HCFC systems to low-GWP alternatives, but challenges remain.

Kurumba Maldives resort.

In an effort to transition the Maldives’ fishing industry to using low-GWP alternative technologies, the government has begun implementing training and retrofit incentive programmes.

However, though the country is intent on shifting away from f-gases, there are significant challenges that need to be overcome. spoke to Miruza Mohamed, director of environment management, at the Maldives Ministry of Environment and Energy to find out more.

Majority of industry still on R22

“As of 2014, there are 22 operating fishing enterprises,” said Mohamed. “About 15-20% of the HCFCs imported are consumed in the fisheries sector. And HCFC usage across the enterprises is approximately 65%.”

Mohamed explained that R22 is currently the dominant refrigerant used in the industry.As most of the seaborne vessels use R22 and there is no readily available alternative, it is going to be challenging for the sector.”

“We are in the process of finding a good alternative for retrofitting mother vessels under a demonstration project funded by Multilateral Fund for the Montreal Protocol.”

Fishing is the Maldives’ second-largest economic sector after tourism. The industry accounts for about 10% of the country’s GDP and employs around 20% of the workforce.

The largest portion of R22 use is on marine refrigerated seawater systems installed on fishing vessels. The rest of it is used in cold chain logistics facilities such as transport trucks and freezer containers, as well as blast freezers and cold stores.

Though some ammonia is used, Mohamed explained that the government is continuing to work with industry to shift away from R22.

“We have provided incentives for six fisheries companies to retrofit from R22 to low-GWP alternatives,” said Mohamed.

“If more funds become available we would continue to provide incentives to the fisheries sector.”

Our focus now is to provide training on natural refrigerants and focus on onsite training.
– Miruza Mohamed, director of environment management, Maldives Ministry of Environment and Energy

Technology and training challenges

However, specific challenges remain for this industry.

Mohamed detailed their biggest concerns regarding alternative refrigerants and selection criteria for systems and technology.

Their biggest concerns when evaluating alternative refrigerants are “environmental impact, overall performance when the system is retrofitted or replaced, cost and availability of the refrigerant in the local market, compatibility with current equipment, and finally safety (flammability and toxicity).”

With respect to the main criteria they are looking for when evaluating new systems or technology, these are: “ease of operation and maintenance, familiarity of system with local technicians, equipment performance, and the cost of system components and repair.”

Regarding the future, Mohamed said the government was focused on training local technicians, with an emphasis on natural refrigerant technology alternatives.

“In addition to continuing our good practices in service trainings, we would like to introduce a certification programme whereby only certified technicians can do the servicing and installation,” said Mohamed.

“Our focus now is to provide training on natural refrigerants and focus on onsite training. This week five people from different sectors will be attending China to get training on natural refrigerants.”

By Devin Yoshimoto

Nov 09, 2017, 10:55

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