In his concluding comments at the end of the EU Med-9 summit held in Spain in December 2022, Prime Minister Robert Abela announced that the leaders of the nine Mediterranean EU member states agreed that Malta will be hosting the subsequent 2023 summit.
The EU-Med9 or ‘Club Med’ group is composed of nine member states and brings together the leaders of Croatia, Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain. This will be the 10th EU-Med9 encounter since its first one in 2014.
The Med9 meeting of energy ministers taking place today will provide the opportunity to reinforce Malta’s vision in favour of a clean energy sector. It is no secret that Malta is pushing for the deployment of renewable energy and to reduce its dependency on imported carbon dioxide emitting fuels.
In doing so, Malta needs to maintain a balanced energy mix to safeguard security of supply to end consumers while ensuring a gradual transition to a carbon neutral economy. In conformance with the European Commission’s REPowerEU Plan – described as its response to the hardships and global energy market crises – Malta’s vision is addressing three key objectives: energy efficiency, decarbonisation and an accelerated roll-out of renewable energy.
The EU Solar Strategy foresees the great potential of offshore solar installations, in line with the EU Offshore Renewable Energy Strategy. Solar energy offers several advantages. Installations are highly modular, scaling up easily from a domestic system to large utility scale. They can also offer immediate benefits to households and industry, resulting in environmental benefits. Most importantly, they can be deployed in a very short time.
Similarly, offshore wind generation is still facing barriers to entry in the Mediterranean basin attributable to the challenging water depths that exist, particularly those surrounding our country. These challenges pose a constraint on the projects’ financials as more complex floating and anchoring technologies increase capital and operational costs in comparison to bottom fixed technologies that can be deployed in shallower waters.
Nonetheless, while fully cognisant of these realities, we pursue the attitude that there is an opportunity for the Mediterranean to replicate the success already achieved in the North Sea by deploying large-scale offshore renewables in the Mediterranean. The more the countries bordering this sea believe in this technology the better the economies of scale will become, creating a window of opportunity even for our country.
Our aim to look towards offshore renewable energy is intrinsically linked not just to our target of doubling Malta’s interconnection with Europe but also towards other possibilities that the region may provide.
The establishment of this green energy corridor will create opportunities for investment and economic growth- Miriam Dalli
Malta’s strategic position in the Mediterranean can become pivotal to enable a corridor of renewable energy to the European continent, transforming Malta from an energy taker to a bridge of renewable energy generated offshore and in the neighbouring non-EU Mediterranean countries to the European continent.
In this sense, Malta can foster collaboration between the Mediterranean countries to enable our region to become a centre for environmentally sustainable energy facilitating the deployment of offshore renewable energy solutions and integration of green energy generated in North Africa to the entire European Union.
This will assist in removing green energy bottlenecks in the wider EU network, where large-scale green energy is predominantly sourced from the northern areas of Europe.
In our vision, Malta can become a catalyst to enable a concentration of green energy solutions in the area. With the installation of more subsea interconnections between the North African region and mainland EU, a robust link can be created along the Mediterranean corridor to enable more renewables.
North Africa has the perfect conditions for the generation and storage of green energy while the EU Mediterranean countries have the potential to function as energy hubs for the transmission and storage of this green energy to mainland Europe. This would provide a concrete solution for accelerating Europe’s clean energy transition, while ensuring security of energy supply to the region by phasing out dependency on Russian gas supplies.
The establishment of this green energy corridor will also create opportunities for investment and economic growth not just for Malta but for all the EU, generating green jobs and enhancing the blue economy.
Miriam Dalli is Minister for the Environment, Energy and Enterprise.