Enemalta says that it will fast-track a project to lay 70 kilometres of electricity cables after a summer of power cuts.

The planned two-year cable-laying project will take place over six months, the power company's CEO told a news briefing. 

Ryan Fava said the company had analysed the impact of the "extreme weather event" and decided to complete the work by June.

In July, nine days of power cuts forced the closure of businesses as large swathes of the country were left without electricity when temperatures soared above 40°C.

Enemalta CEO Ryan Fava. Photo: Chris Sant FournierEnemalta CEO Ryan Fava. Photo: Chris Sant Fournier

The project, which includes Infrastructure Malta and Transport Malta, will see an additional 70 kilometres of medium voltage cables added to the national grid - roughly four times the length of cable laid by Enemalta over the past two years. 

In the meantime, the company said it will continue on schedule with its six-year plan to upgrade Malta’s electricity network, including through the issuing of a tender for a new Naxxar Distribution centre. 

Planned works also include a new 132-kilovolt link between the Magħtab Interconnector Terminal and the Mosta Distribution Centre, which will serve as one of the main connections for the planned second interconnector. 

Enemalta is also planning to build another new distribution centre in Siġġiewi and upgrade the ones in Msida and St Andrew’s. 

45 new substations

Fava said that between 2022 and 2023 Enemalta had built 80 new substations and completed 66 substation upgrades. Next year it plans to build another 45 new substations and commission other upgrades as needed. It also built extensions for three distribution centres in Marsascala, Mrieħel and Tarxien. 

The company also installed 145 new 400-230v feeders in different localities, allowing alternative connections to be established faster in case of unplanned disruptions. 

Some of the work carried out by Enemalta this year. Video: Enemalta

Emergency diesel plant in Delimara 

Asked about the government’s plans to have an additional supply of electricity generation in case of emergency, Fava said that an area for the project has already been earmarked at the Delimara power station and that this will be powered by diesel. 

Last month Energy Minister Miriam Dalli said the government is allocating €12 million to create a power source that could generate an extra 60 megawatts of electricity if one of the existing power supplies were to be interrupted in some way.

Enemalta is currently working on a tender document that will include further specifications on what the agency is looking to build on the site. 

“This is a temporary solution, we are viewing it as standby power just in case we lose one of our energy sources, hopefully, we will never have to use it,” Fava said. 

“There will be an adequate amount of diesel supply and there is already equipment in place in Delimara that is adequate for diesel storage.” 

Shore-to-ship project 'accounted for' in electricity generation plans 

Asked whether the recently launched shore-to-ship project - which sees vessels in the Grand Harbour being provided electricity from the mainland while docked- will impact the country’s electricity needs, Fava said that the project is fully accounted for in the agency’s energy generation plans. 

“We generate a median of 850 megawatts, so enough for everyone and the ships,” he said. 

“While we did reach that peak in summer, we still have a buffer that more than accounts for it in our generation plans.” 

Fava said that shore-to-ship is supplied directly from the Marsa distribution centre and while Enemalta welcomes as much use as possible, it is not “cast in stone” that every ship that enters the harbour will make use of it.

“In general I would say, the more the merrier, even because Enemalta generates income from the tariffs that we charge for shore-to-ship supply,” he continued. 

“But it's good to note that not every vessel has the technology required to make use of it and before they can hook up they have to file a request to do so.” 

Infrastructure Malta CEO Ivan Falzon added that the project is expected to grow gradually to between 50 and 60 connections in its first year of use and can go up to 150 connections in its third year.

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