Last Updated on Thursday, 1 February, 2024 at 12:21 pm by Andre Camilleri
Potential for 50 megawatts of clean energy four nautical miles off Delimara
Minister for the Environment, Energy and the Regeneration of the Grand Harbour Miriam Dalli on Wednesday announced a preliminary market consultation (PMC) to assess the market readiness for nearshore floating solar farms in Maltese territorial waters.
The Ministry launched the consultation process together with the Regulator for Energy and Water Services (REWS). The PMC identifies an area four nautical miles off the coast of Delimara as the first possible site for the development of grid-connected floating solar technology projects, with a potential capacity of 50 megawatts of renewable energy.
Minister Dalli explained that the government is committed to continue stimulating the required green energy investments to attain Malta’s ambitious decarbonisation and sustainability objectives.
“We are providing many support initiatives to encourage families and entrepreneurs to develop more land-based clean energy systems. The share of renewables in our energy mix is increasing every year. However, in a small island state, spaces for renewables on land are limited. We believe that the vast opportunities offered by our seas can be an important solution.
“Floating solar farms in open seas are a nascent technology that will continue to expand in coming years through further research and development. Through this consultation, we are triggering a process that can encourage investors and innovators to place Malta at the forefront of this innovative green technology,” Dalli said.
Ing. Abigail Cutajar, from the Energy Ministry, said that following preliminary discussions with the relevant authorities and stakeholders, the site proposed in the PMC was identified due to its proximity to Enemalta’s electricity infrastructure at Delimara, facilitating a more secure connection to the national grid, with minimal transmission losses. At the same time, the development would not lead to significant adverse visual impacts from nearby coastal areas since solar technologies are installed at a much lower height than other offshore installations.
Ing. Cutajar explained that the PMC aims to solicit proposals from operators for the deployment of floating solar technology projects, including photovoltaic farms, extending up to 12 nautical miles off the coast of Malta and Gozo. Economic operators can submit proposals based on the identified potential location, or any other location deemed feasible for such projects. This process will facilitate the evaluation of investor interest, allowing the Government to assess the current market preparedness for such projects and support the ongoing technical studies to proceed with a competitive call for offers.
Investors that may eventually be identified for such projects would be required to obtain the required development and environmental authorisations, and conduct studies, such as seabed analysis, to determine the environmental and technical suitability of each site.
Ing. Mark Camilleri, from REWS, said that the PMC document and all other relevant information are available online at rews.org.mt/pmc. The consultation will be open until Wednesday, 24 April.
The Ministry for the Environment, Energy and the Regeneration of the Grand Harbour said it is also working on a separate process for investments in offshore renewable energy systems, such as floating wind farms, in Malta’s exclusive economic zone. A draft National Policy for the Deployment of Offshore Renewable Energy was launched for public consultation in 2023. The final policy will be published in the coming months. Concurrently, the Government also plans to issue a pre-qualification questionnaire to invite investors to propose offshore renewable energy projects.
Malta’s Ambassador for Climate Action Professor Simone Borg, the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary Joseph Caruana, Director General for Sustainable Development, Environment and Climate Change Margaret Cassar and representatives of the Planning Authority, Enemalta plc, Interconnect Malta, Environment and Resources Authority, the University of Malta’s Institute of Sustainable Energy, the Chamber of Commerce, the Chamber of Engineers, the Chamber of SMEs, the Malta Developers Association, the Malta Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energies Association and the Malta Intelligent Energy Management Agency were present during the launch of the PMC.