Europe: Malta weighs up strategic priorities - Three potential projects

The island Republic of Malta in the Mediterranean Sea is to carry out detailed studies for three wind power projects with a combined capacity of 110 MW, one offshore and two onshore. If the resource and wind studies confirm the potential of the selected sites, a request for proposals will be issued for the plant to be built by the private sector, says the government's draft energy policy.

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The policy identifies six key policy areas, including reducing Malta's dependence on imported oil by developing renewable energy; securing stability of supply by diversifying the fuel mix and building an interconnection with the European grid; and reducing emissions. Despite its small size and high population density - more than 400,000 people in little more than 300 square kilometres - the government believes Malta must "ride the current economic challenge and diversify its energy supply, tap renewables and adopt a price structure that incentivises energy efficiency." The proposed offshore wind farm site is that previously announced at Sikka l-Bajda, for up to 95 MW. The two onshore sites are at Wied Rini and the Hal Far industrial estate, both on the main island of Malta, for up to 10.2 MW and 4.2 MW respectively.

Linking Malta to the mainland through Italy is already in planning. The European Commission in May called for proposals to build a submarine interconnection between Malta and Sicily for an estimated EUR20 million. A decision is expect mid-September, with construction to start before the end of next year. The link is seen as essential to allowing the development of wind power on Malta without compromising the stability of its grid.

Financially attractive

Meanwhile, a report commissioned by the Malta Resources Authority concludes that the most financially attractive way for Malta to meet its commitment to the EU's 20% renewables by 2020 target is to invest in renewables projects elsewhere in Europe and take a share of the clean energy credits via the Joint Implementation mechanism.

Malta must get 10% of energy from renewables by 2020. Offshore wind could still be a feasible option, however, "if the strategic benefits of generating renewable energy within Malta are considered a priority," the report notes.

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