Climate change at our gates

Timothy Alden is a Senior Projects Executive on Sustainability at the Malta Business Bureau

The impact of climate change on quality of life and business activities is proving to be ever more serious and disruptive. Since climate change can no longer be avoided – that opportunity is tragically well behind us now – we must mitigate and adapt.

Energy efficiency is a key concept in climate change mitigation. As temperatures soar, and extreme weather events continue to become increasingly frequent, attention should be placed on temperature control of buildings as a priority, and on any further measure which increases energy efficiency, such as insulation, or the replacement of old machinery or appliances. 

Efficiency does not only help us to keep our bills down, but it helps to alleviate pressure on the energy grid, even while overall energy demand may continue to increase. That is why energy efficiency and renewable energy generation are both essential components of the green transition. At a time of increasing energy prices, and with Malta’s energy subsidies ultimately finite, energy efficiency has never been more urgent. We are currently in the best window of opportunity to invest in efficiency, allowing us to be proactive, rather than reactive.

For businesses, particularly manufacturing companies, energy efficiency can be far more complex than insulation or old machinery. Interrelated processes can have costly inefficiencies, such as leaks in air compression systems, which can quickly ratchet up the bills. Being proactive, rather than reactive, requires digitalisation through Building Management Systems, and a holistic approach which puts the concept of Industry 4.0 into a practical reality, rather than a buzzword.

Some years ago, the Energy & Water Agency (EWA) commissioned a study to the Malta Business Bureau (MBB), titled Energy Trends in Malta’s Manufacturing sector. Amongst its key findings were that in spite of financial measures being available to help manufacturing companies to become more energy efficient, human resource shortages made applying for such grants too intensive. It was with that in mind that the WE MAKE project was developed as a collaboration between EWA, MBB and The Malta Chamber. For the past two years, the project team organised over twelve events through which companies came together to share their best practices and interface directly with Malta Enterprise, private banks and academia to promote collaboration, research and a deeper understanding of what projects might be possible, and how to finance them. 

The project also supported the uptake of energy audits, and led to additional research being carried out, which identified heating & cooling as one of the most popular sources of investment for energy efficiency arising out of audits. This led to a mentorship programme within the project led by Toly Products, which included a site visit to the factory for participating SMEs. Low hanging opportunities for heating and cooling exist, and given the growing demand due to climate change, these opportunities are being increasingly identified, particularly through energy audits. Examples of such opportunities from Maltese businesses include heat pumps and inverters, chiller upgrades to adiabatic cooling, use of heat exchangers particularly in combination with water reservoirs in larger premises, and general increases in efficiency of equipment for industrial application. There are additional technologies which could contribute towards more effective and efficient cooling. Geothermal heat sink is one such technology, but it generally has higher periods for companies to reclaim their investment. This is where more ambitious green finance might come in as the green transition gathers steam.

At the end of July, the project essentially closed with a two-day digital conference titled International Best Practices in Manufacturing. This entailed foreign best practice companies and technology providers coming forward as case studies to inspire local industry. 

While the WE MAKE project is closing, the MBB is committed to continue working on improving business energy performance through our new EU LIFE EnergyEfficiency4SME and REEValue projects. Providing support to business and promoting increased energy efficiency and performance will remain key priorities of these projects going forward.

The Water and Energy Management and Knowledge Transfer in Manufacturing Enterprises (We Make) project, is a collaboration between the Energy and Water Agency (EWA), Malta Business Bureau and the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry, sponsored by the EWA, to give manufacturing industry businesses guidance on how to consume energy and water efficiently.

For more information please contact the MBB on:

The Malta Business Bureau is the EU business advisory organisation of The Malta Chamber and The Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association. It is also a partner of the Enterprise Europe Network.

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