Last Updated on Tuesday, 1 December, 2020 at 8:56 am by Andre Camilleri
Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Capital Projects Ian Borg and Parliamentary Secretary for European Funds Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi announced that Infrastructure Malta has launched the ‘Grand Harbour Clean Air Project’, a €50 million investment through which the Grand Harbour will be amongst the first harbours in Europe to use environmental technology known as cold ironing or shore side electricity.
Minister Ian Borg said that, “With this investment we will continue to show our commitment and further realise our clear vision, that of offering the best possible quality of life to the people in terms of greater sustainability, cleaner air, as well as more economic growth. With this investment we will be eliminating a number of respiratory diseases and other health problems through drastic reductions in air emissions. We will be reducing, by more than 90%, the air pollution from ships while moored in the Grand Harbour. It is estimated that each passenger ship that spends eight hours moored in the harbour produces as much smoke and emissions as 300,000 cars driving at once from Ċirkewwa to Marsaxlokk. We will eliminate this, and we will be guaranteeing a cleaner lung and a better quality of life for our country”.
In the first phase of the project, €21.9 million in European Union funding has already been raised in order to enable cruise liners and trailers or other general cargo (Ro-Ro ships) to switch off their engines operating with gas or heavy fuel oil and thus drastically reduce the exhaust coming out of their chimneys.
By 2023, when the first phase is aimed to be completed, the five main wharfs used by passenger ships will be equipped with this system. These consist of the three on the Pinto Wharf in Floriana, the Deep Water Quay in Marsa, and Boiler Wharf in Senglea. On these wharfs there will be transformers and other equipment so that ships can connect to the electrical system and turn off the engines as soon as they arrive in the harbour. The system will then also be extended to the wharfs of Xatt il-Laboratorju and Ras Ħanżir in Paola.
Parliamentary Secretary Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi explained that €21.9 million are being financed with European funds from the Connecting Europe Facility. He said that these are additional funds to the package that was allocated to Malta. This project is an innovative one, being one of the first installed in European member states’ ports. It will provide better air quality for the people of the Grand Harbour area and continue to reduce emissions. He also stated that preparations are underway to install a similar system at Malta Freeport. This is being done according to a budget measure announced this year where as a government we will be working to install the ship-to-shore system also for the benefit of the people of the south of Malta, “specifically the people living in Birżebbuġa and Marsaxlokk who deserve to enjoy cleaner air”.
Once the engines are switched off, the passenger ships that visit us start emitting 93% less nitrogen dioxide, 92.6% less particulate matter, and 99.6% less sulphur dioxide. These are amongst the most common causes of respiratory illness and other health problems. The first phase of the ‘Grand Harbour Clean Air Project’ will also reduce the carbon dioxide emissions caused by climate change by 39.6%.
Work commenced in mid-November by cutting the trench about a metre deep through which cables with a voltage of 33kV will pass and supply electricity to the wharfs. It is estimated that a total of about 22 kilometres of cables will be laid. In addition, two frequency converter stations will be needed as part of the project to help supply electricity to the wharfs. One of these will be built under the old industrial tent at Boiler Wharf, which will also be restored and preserved as part of the country’s historic industrial heritage. The other converter will be built in the Deep Water Quay area, next to another industrial structure.