Economic growth, a higher GDP, a further increase in construction, the introduction of electric vehicles and the shore-to-ship initiative will see electricity demand surge by 25 per cent within the next six years.
Energy Minister Miriam Dalli and Enemalta chairman Jonathan Scerri said the government had embarked on a €90 million infrastructure project spread over six years to deal with the urgent and existing distribution problems and prepare for the increasing demand.
"Demand was down during COVID, but it is back to pre-pandemic levels now. This winter we experienced a record peak and we project that next year will see demand increase by a further six per cent," Scerri told a news conference on Saturday.
"GDP will likely increase, and experience has shown us that with it, so does the demand for electricity."
Last month, Times of Malta reported that appliances of several residents in different localities are developing malfunctions due to bizarre, daily fluctuations in the electricity supply. Most of the residents blame overdevelopment in their areas.
The government project aims to fix these distribution issues, but on Saturday, Minister Dalli was unable to confirm when residents might expect these problems to be solved within the next six years.
Scerri insisted Enemalta aims to bring down power cuts and their duration to a minimum.
He said Enemalta will invest in a €6 million infrastructure facility that will supply high voltage electricity coming through the new, second interconnector from Magħtab to the Mosta distribution centre, strengthening provision to the surrounding areas.
Distribution centres receive high-voltage electricity supplies from the interconnector or the power station and in turn, supply a lower, safer voltage to substations scattered all around the country, which then direct electricity to homes, businesses and buildings.
The Mosta distribution centre currently supplies electricity to at least eight, central localities - Mosta, Attard, Balzan, Birkirkara, Naxxar, Għargħur, Iklin and San Ġwann.
Scerri said that by 2025, Enemalta will build a new, €8 million, 45-megawatt distribution centre in Naxxar that will relieve the Mosta centre by supplying electricity to Naxxar, Għargħur, Iklin and San Ġwann, ensuring a better provision for all eight localities.
He said the project also includes €6 million in renovation and modernisation of distribution centres in Mrieħel, Tarxien and Marsascala, and the construction of 250 new substations - meaning 40-50 new substations each year for the next six years. They will cost around €25 million in total.
Enemalta also plans to upgrade substations with safer and more modern switch gears which can be operated remotely from the Marsa distribution centre. This means that in the event of power cuts, Enemalta staff will be able to switch the electricity supply to a different source and restore electricity in households within minutes, before they go to the substation to perform repair works. Scerri said this will bring down the duration of power cuts drastically.
The company said it is also working seven days a week to install new underground cables that will provide a better and more stable electricity supply from the substations to houses and businesses. It said the cabling alone will cost €15 million.
Scerri also said the government is developing infrastructure that can adjust and control voltage levels from domestic solar panels. He said the panels sometimes send high voltage energy into the grid, causing disturbances and inconveniences to neighbours. He said Enemalta believes in the investment in solar panels so it is introducing new technologies that mitigate their challenges.
Dalli said the government is striving to maintain the lower electricity prices that it introduced in 2013 while simultaneously investing in better, safer and more stable provisions for everyone.
"The country's growth rate and our vision for a cleaner environment, which includes the introduction of electric vehicles and initiatives such as the shore-to-ship project, will increase demand for energy, and we are working tirelessly to meet the needs of the future," she said.