Enemalta has, over the past days, avoided using the Sicily-Malta interconnector during peak hours as energy prices across Europe remain sky high.
The country has so far remained largely insulated from the soaring energy tariffs hitting the continent though Enemalta last week drastically reduced its use of the interconnector.
Times of Malta is informed the interconnector was in effect switched off for 11 hours on Wednesday, 18 hours on Thursday and 17 hours on Friday. The price Enemalta pays for electricity from the interconnector is determined by a daily auction on the open market.
Eurozone consumer prices rose at their fastest pace since 2008 in September as energy costs skyrocketed, according to Eurostat data released this month.
Eurostat, the EU’s official statistics agency, said eurozone inflation reached 3.4 per cent on an annualised basis, with energy prices increasing by 17.4 per cent.
Malta saw the lowest price increases in the entire eurozone, the Eurostat data showed.
A spokesperson for the Energy Ministry acknowledged wholesale prices in Italy, from which Malta imports over the interconnector, have reached a record 37c per unit.
The ministry spokesperson said prices on the European grid are expected to stabilise in the second quarter of next year.
Gasoil power plant restarted
During the period the interconnector use was reduced, one of Enemalta’s older power plants, known as Delimara 2, was fired up.
The plant runs on gasoil, a polluting type of diesel.
Questioned about the use of Delimara 2, given the government's strategy of decarbonisation, the spokesperson said this power plant is intended to serve as a back-up.
“The use you are referring to was, in fact, for this reason, while technical work was under way. It was used for a very short period, of circa one hour,” the spokesperson said.
Energy Minister Miriam Dalli recently announced plans to build a second Sicily-Malta interconnector.
The spokesperson said the government still planned to go ahead with the project, despite the rise in prices.
“A second interconnector fits within the government’s decarbonisation vision and increasing the island’s diversification of sources,” the spokesperson said.
“Malta needs additional supply in the medium term to cater for the increase in demand, mainly due to GDP growth and electrification of transport.
“Our decarbonisation strategy comprises a mix of local generation, interconnectors and renewable energy sources”.
The spokesperson also said having a long-term vision means preparing for different scenarios.
Enemalta’s strategy is always intended to dispatch a mix of sources that incur the least costs to the consumer while ensuring security of supply, the spokesperson added.
This energy mix emphasises the importance of having a diversification of sources as opposed to a strategy of relying on just one source.
The government-appointed members of Enemalta’s board along with its CEO were recently shown the door as part of a shake-up at the energy provider, which is part-owned by Shanghai Electric.
Dalli denied the shake-up was linked to electricity blackouts during summer or recent scandals at Enemalta.
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