They harvest the sun to produce electricity but the glare caused by solar panels can negatively affect landing aircraft.

This is a weakness of solar panels identified in a report on the use of renewable energy by the government agency MIEMA (Malta Intelligent Energy Management Agency).

The report does not specify how significant the problem of solar panel glare may be but the airport runway is situated in the south of the island, the direction towards which panels are organised for maximum efficiency.

Solar panels, of course, have their advantages. Malta’s sun-baked location makes it an ideal place for more efficient solar panel installations, the report said, adding that the island could act as a test bed for innovative technologies.

An analysis of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of renewable energy, known in business jargon as a swot analysis, identifies the low rate of return on investment as a handicap.

Solar energy is one of the sources the government wants to tap in its efforts to reach the 20 per cent EU renewable energy target by 2020.

The report, part of the EU-sponsored Enerscapes project, analyses the effects of unregulated use of renewable energy sources on the environment.

It is expected to be discussed at a public seminar on Friday and opened for public consultation.

The report notes that the fragmented nature of land ownership made it difficult to use large tracts of land for solar panels but advocates the use of rooftops and walls as ideal places to install the technology.

Shade from high buildings and “the canyonisation” of streets with the construction of high buildings close enough to result in narrow streets, are also identified as threats to solar energy.

The report also warns about the negative effect on tourism if solar panel plants are developed without appropriate landscape concerns.

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