Wind will constitute "a key component" in helping Malta meet its EU renewables targets as long as it is shown to provide optimum value for money compared to other measures. This is one of 87 recommendations made by Malta's Climate Change Committee in a consultation report published in January outlining a national strategy to cut greenhouse gas emissions. It will feed in to the slow-moving debate on the draft national energy policy released in 2006.
Malta is totally dependent on imported fossil fuels for its 571 MW of electricity generation capacity. This produced 2300 GWh in 2008, while in 2020 demand is estimated to reach around 3500 GWh. Renewables will have to provide some 500 GWh of this if Malta is to meet its 2020 EU renewable energy target to source 10% of its energy supply from renewables. Wind is expected to play "a major role," says Tonio Sant of the Ministry for Resources and Rural Affairs.
But the earliest any wind power would be developed is 2010. Given the country's small, isolated grid and the limited amount of spinning reserve that can be maintained, the report says Malta's maximum wind potential at present is for no more than 60 MW. Due to landscape issues and population density, investigations so far have focused offshore. The current favourite is a 45 MW project at Sikka l-Badja (White Reef), two kilometres off Malta's north coast (Windpower Monthly, December 2008). Feasibility studies are ongoing, but the site could possibly accommodate up to 90 MW and generate around 200 GWh a year.
Plans are further ahead to build a 125-kilometre undersea cable, provisionally rated at around 200 MW, linking Malta to Sicily. A detailed seabed survey has yet to take place, but the government hopes the EUR200 million interconnector will be completed by 2014. This would allow the system to integrate higher levels of wind power without having to increase the reserve margin locally, it says. Other measures being considered include the use of tradable guarantees of origins for renewables and a high-powered inter-ministerial committee to oversee national energy policy. Once the policy is in place, it will be reviewed every three years, starting in 2012.
Jan Dodd, Windpower Monthly