A formal ceremony was held this evening to mark the switching off of the Marsa power station, after more than 60 years. 

Coincidentally the day marked the deadline which was set by Labour before the general election for the opening of a new gas-fired power station in Delimara. The actual building of that station still has to start, but the switching off of the Marsa plant became possible after tests were made on the newly-completed interconnector linking Malta to the power grid in Sicily.

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and Energy Minister Konrad Mizzi attended this evening's ceremony in Marsa, with Dr Muscat describing it as a milestone which had come 27 years late.

It was, however, not the first farewell for the Marsa power plant, which for decades was Malta's main source of electricity, and its biggest source of pollution.

The power station was actually switched off in the evening of February 15 in the presence of several people who saw its birth and growth.  

Workers appeared to be close to tears, pleased that the station had shut down, but struggling to come to terms with the silence of the place after 62 years of activity.

The power station's origins go back to 1953 when the first equipment was installed underground in what became known as the 'A' station.

Marsa Power StationMarsa Power Station

It was gradually enlarged over the years with turbines and boilers installed above ground for 'B' station. Among the extensions were the installation of three turbines bought second hand from Palermo and two boilers – Boiler 7 and 8 bought from the UK in the 1970s and early 1980s.

The power station burnt coal for many years before being converted to use oil in 1995. A gas turbine was added in 1990.

In 1987 the Nationalist Government announced plans for the building of a new power station at Delimara, with the intention of eventually closing down Marsa. That commitment was repeatedly put off until the interconnector project to supplement the Delimara power house was completed in the past few weeks  

The beginning of the end for the Marsa power station came in  October when Enemalta issued a call for tenders  for the demolition of three chimneys and four fuel tanks.

Preparatory work for the dismantling of turbines and boilers was also started by Enemalta staff while a section of the power station remained in use.

Some of the oldest equipment in 'A' power station will be preserved as historic relics.

Energy Minister Konrad Mizzi said sections of the Marsa power station would be kept in 'cold' standby for now, available for use should a major fault develop at Delimara power station, which has now taken over the whole load of power generation.

He said next year would see the start of demolition of the oldest part of the Delimara power station and the Qajjenza and March 31 installations, which had marred the environment. Another important milestone would be reached in 2016 when Delimara switched to cleaner gas operations.

Dr Muscat looked forward to the regeneration of Marsa and said the population of the south of Malta could now breath a sight of relief that this polluting station was finally closed.  

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