MALE - The Maldives could achieve its aim of becoming carbon neutral well before its 2020 target, the Indian Ocean island nation's president said Monday.

To meet the goal of making the archipelago totally free of carbon emissions, the Maldives government has been encouraging investments in power generation through wind, solar and other renewable energy sources to replace diesel.

Monday, the government inaugurated a $200 million wind farm project it said would generate 40 percent of the Maldives total energy demand of 542,000 MWh within the next 20 months.

The project is expected to reduce carbon emissions by a fifth.

Our target is to become carbon neutral in 10 years, but with the manner things are proceeding now, my feeling is that we will be able to achieve these goals much, much earlier, Maldives President Mohamed Nasheed said after the ceremony.

The island nation off the tip of India, best-known for luxury tropical hideaways and unspoiled beaches, is among the most threatened by rising seas. The U.N. has predicted that a rise in sea levels of up to 58 cm could submerge many of its 1,192 islands by 2100.

On October 17, Nasheed and his cabinet held the world's first underwater cabinet meeting, in a symbolic cry for help.

(Writing by Shihar Annez; Editing by Alex Richardson)