The energy minister has reiterated a promise made by the government in the Budget speech to set, by the end of this year, the date beyond which the importation of vehicles powered by internal combustion engines will stop.

In the budget speech on October 14, the government had said the decision would be based on the recommendation of a commission which it had set up to advise on the phasing out of the sale of fossil-fuelled cars. Owners of traditional petrol and diesel cars would still be able to use their car beyond the coming into force of this ban.

Energy Minister Michael Farrugia on Monday told a meeting of EU energy ministers, held by video-conference, that the government was considering replacing its own fleet of cars by electric vehicles.

The electrification of the road transport sector would continue to be supported by generous grants and lower tax on electric vehicles as well as the deployment of charging infrastructure, he added.

The COVID 19 pandemic proved the need for further investment in clean energy solutions, the minister told his colleagues. Measures to decrease energy consumption, especially in the transport sector, should be supported as part of the post-COVID recovery process to ensure that the energy intensity of end-use sectors continued to decrease. 

The minister's comments came at the same time as the Opposition's spokesman on energy, David Thake, criticised the energy minister, Aaron Farrugia, for not having done anything during the Covid-19 slowdown, to encourage people to continue working at home, easing traffic congestion and the resultant pollution.

In his address the energy minister said the highest contribution towards Malta’s renewable energy target is expected to come from solar PV panels, whilst other solar technologies, such as solar water heaters and heat pumps will contribute towards greener households.

“In this regard, Malta will continue to monitor developments in floating offshore solar and wind technologies in view of their potential in the long-term. We shall also seek to attract private investment in floating solar and/or wind technologies, which could benefit from EU financing mechanisms," he said.

He said that a pilot scheme supporting the integration of battery storage with PV systems will be launched this year.

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