Working right in the heart of the dynamics of the energy sector and bringing about positive change is undoubtedly a challenging and satisfying aspect of my job. This was reflected in the recent announcement of two important milestones for our energy sector.

Malta will be doubling its electricity interconnection with Italy. A new 200MW cable will be laid between Malta and Ragusa, making use of infrastructural preparations put together when the first cable was commissioned in 2014.

We also convinced our European counterparts that Malta needs access to the European gas market. Our proposal for a hydrogen-ready pipeline will be considered as a Project of Common Interest and can be eligible for funding under the revised TEN-E network regulations.

The PN’s reaction was a puerile attempt to claim that the idea of a second interconnector has been theirs since 2006. They selectively quoted from a document meant to be the electricity generation plan for Malta for the following 10 years.

Being austere with the truth, they avoided mentioning that, according to this plan, the Marsa power station had to cease functioning by 2008, a source of gas was to be in place by 2009 and the first interconnector completed by 2010. Apart from talking, there was little walking during the PN administration.

Malta underwent 14 years of zero investment in the energy sector between 1998 and 2012 leading to the worst ever electricity generation policy. Consumers faced the highest-ever bills. The Nationalist administration scrapped all the 2006 plans and opted for another oil-fired plant.

The interconnector remained on paper. The only mention of a second interconnector in the 2006 plan refers to a redundant cable intended for security of supply. Commenting today, the PN seems to have completely ditched the need for redundancy and security of supply. They took a simple mathematical average of the loads on the current infrastructure to try and shed doubt on the need for a second cable.

We have been experiencing a consistent increase in demand for electricity since 2014. Moreover, post pandemic forecasts indicate further increases in demand, driven mainly by economic growth, electrification of transport and shore-to-ship supplies. This demand is expected to increase by 21 per cent in the next five years.

The new gas power plant and first interconnector replaced the HFO fired Marsa and Delimara power stations and handled the increase in demand. Without both projects, we would either have had to keep running on HFO or endure long hours of electricity interruptions annually.

Malta must go for the cleanest source of energy- Miriam Dalli

My vision is clear: Malta must go for the cleanest source of energy and ensure diversification of sources. Decisions taken are analysed and studied. I want to ensure implementation.

The second interconnector cable will provide for the projected growth for this decade. It will deliver a more stable electricity grid enabling the onboarding of more renewable generation. Deployment of large-scale renewables requires a very robust grid that can handle the intermittency and variability of renewables and ensure that customers are well supplied at all times.

I firmly believe that any energy policy should be driven by expert analysis. Technical advice should be followed rather than ignored, as was the case with the 2006 plan. Specialists have studied no less than six options for interconnections with Italy, Greece, and Tunisia. Technical analysis pointed towards a second cable between Ragusa and Malta. This is both the cheapest option and the one that bears the least economic and technical risk.

We now have 350MW of capacity from local gas-fired generation plants, 200MW from the new power plant and 150MW from the BWSC plant, converted to operate on gas. The new interconnector will double the import capacity to 400MW, balancing our sources. By diversifying our sources, we will enhance additional security of supply, reduce the dependency on one technology and keep our options open.

Our ambitious electricity generation policy has foresight. We promote continued investment in this sector, driving towards our ultimate aim of decarbonisation. We have also negotiated and secured a derogation by which Malta will connect to the European grid, allowing access to new energy markets, including hydrogen.

This is the future. This is the path we’re taking to decarbonise this sector and our economy in the years to come.

Miriam Dalli – Minister for Energy

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