Updated 4.40pm, adds PN's reaction
Malta’s first ever national policy for offshore renewable energy has been launched for consultation with plans to have the first wind or solar floating farms located between 12 and 25 nautical miles off the island's shores.
Six sites have been identified as potential areas where the floating farms could be located (see map below).
The public consultation opened on Thursday and will go on until the end of September after which the feedback will be evaluated and an international call for expression of interest will lead to the shortlisting of bidders. Those bidders will then be invited to bid again in another request for proposals, explained Energy Minister Miriam Dalli as she launched the National Policy for the Deployment of Offshore Renewable Energy.
She could not give a timeline as to when to expect to see the first renewable energy farms as that depended on several factors.
“This is Malta’s first-ever national policy for offshore renewable energy to offer clean and affordable energy that is created responsibly and with environmental awareness. We need to get to a point where our energy is generated from renewable sources so that we can be more autonomous,” she said, adding that the interest of the consumer was always at the centre and that such investment would also be creating jobs.
While it is widely recognised that the Maltese islands are limited by their spatial ground area of 316km2, the country through its geographical location in the centre of the Mediterranean Sea, has a potential Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of over 70,000km2, which is much larger than its land area, ministry officials said.
Engineer Sandro Lauri, from the Energy and Water Agency, explained that, at the moment, most of Malta’s energy is generated from fossil fuel with only 10 per cent coming from renewable energy. Most of the renewable energy is generated from solar panels – which take a lot of space in a country where land is limited and expensive.
He explained that the six zones were identified during a preliminary consultation with stakeholders. Several factors were taken into account including: airport buffer zone and harbour approaches, aquaculture farm boundaries, submarine cables and pipelines, exploratory oil wells and potential oil and gas prospects, fishing aggregation devices zones, marine facilities and marine and bird species in the area. Wind strength was also taken into account.
He added that energy generated in any farms would be fed into the grid with the areas identified including the Delimara Power Station, Magħtab Terminal Station and Marsascala Converter Station.
You can view the consultation document here.
In a statement, the Nationalist Party welcomed the public consultation but said it should have come earlier.
It said it was disappointing that the minister was not willing to promise that this clean energy would have started to be generated by 2030, the target the minister had bound herself to prior to the 2022 election.