COVID-19 proved the need for further investment in clean energy solutions – Minister Michael Farrugia

Updated on

Minister for Energy and Water Management Michael Farrugia said that the Covid-19 pandemic proved the need for further investments in clean energy solutions and energy efficiency. 

During the Informal High-Level Video Conference for Energy Ministers, Minister Farrugia stressed that measures to decrease energy consumption, especially in the transport sector, should be supported as part of the recovery process to ensure that the energy intensity of end-use sectors continues to decrease. “This would have clear positive benefits, not only in decreasing GHG emissions and air pollution but also in helping Malta reach its obligations and goals in the area of energy efficiency and renewable energy.” 

During his intervention at the Council, which discussed the economic recovery and the European Green Deal, Minister Farrugia spoke about the main energy technology investments planned to ensure the achievement of the 2030 targets and energy transition, as described in Malta’s Energy and Climate Plan, mainly Waste, Renewables, Energy Efficiency, and Electrification.  

He said that in the waste sector, much of the investment will be directed towards the overhaul of Malta’s waste treatment facilities to ensure that waste is indeed treated as a resource in line with the circular economy. “The government is also committed to continuing to support the development of cost-effective renewable energy sources. 

The highest contribution towards Malta’s renewable energy target is expected to come from solar PV, 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. The government will also assess innovative and cost-effective solutions to increase energy system flexibility, such as the deployment of energy storage solutions, which would be necessary to compensate for the increased deployment of intermittent renewables,” he said whilst adding that a pilot scheme supporting the integration of battery storage with PV systems will be launched this year.

Minister Farrugia said that the electrification of the road transport sector will continue to be supported by generous grants and lower tax on electric vehicles as well as the deployment of charging infrastructure. 

The government is also committed to announcing by the end of this year, a cut-off date for the importation of ICE vehicles. “Leading by example, the government is currently considering replacing its own fleet by electric vehicles.” 

Regarding the power sector, he said that investment needs to take into consideration the inherent vulnerability of Malta’s small, semi-isolated power system, as duly highlighted by a recent unfortunate accident, whereby Malta’s single subsea electricity interconnector was damaged and left the country depending exclusively on onshore generation for around three months. 

“I cannot overstress the importance of security of supply, especially for an island state like Malta, which would need to exclusively depend on its own resources in instances just described. Intermittent renewable sources have yet to provide the desired level of security of supply, and this is why we are fully supportive of the move towards hydrogen.”   

The minister concluded by mentioning that the proposed gas pipeline between Malta and Sicily is to be fully hydrogen ready, to ensure that this will not lead to a carbon lock and hope that this project gets fully supported by the Commission.