Playing an offshore green energy

Last Updated on Thursday, 6 April, 2023 at 12:18 pm by Andre Camilleri

Many recall an interesting discussion with the energy minister and two experts recorded on a business breakfast organised by Times of Malta last month. This event throws a new light on how Malta will eventually start paving the way for decarbonising – eventually producing green hydrogen.  

Energy Minister Miriam Dalli joined Professor Luciano Mule Stagno from the Institute for Sustainable Energy and Malta Chamber of Geologists president Dr Peter Gatt were invited by the Times of Malta to discuss the future of Malta’s energy sector, at a business breakfast organised by the EU Commission. 

Offshore wind and solar farms seem to be the most popularly touted solutions for Malta during the hour-long discussion. What are the chances for Malta to attract serious money to invest offshore in its EEZ and laying the foundation stone for a long-term solution to weed us away from fossil fuels.  

At present only 9.7% of total energy is locally generated from renewables (mainly P.V’s – no windmills except for a forsaken investment in Montenegro) while Europe strives to increase its average rate of about 37%.  A lot has been written how the tiny island started late to convert to renewables while we consumed the best part of a decade to build a fossil fuel (LNG) plant supplied by a floating service vessel.

Time is ripe for a more radical focus how to switch to cleaner fuels.  For visionaries the subject can be part of a long-term project to be self sufficient in producing hydrogen and methane/ammonia gases – part of which can constitute future revenue for our GDP.  Perhaps, this is the right time for policymakers to stop playing with renewables as our national sport -churning it like a spinning top.  

Really and truly, we woke up late on the technology as offshore wind capacity is forecast to more than triple by 2026.  By then, offshore wind additions are expected to account for one-fifth of the global wind market, a major milestone.  

Global capacity additions of offshore wind are set to reach 21 GW by 2026, thanks to rapid expansion in new markets beyond Europe and China.  China – the world’s biggest polluter – was by far the largest investor in energy transition, with the United States a distant second.  Nearly half of the total global investment was in China, particularly in steel recycling and the renewable energy and electric vehicles sectors. 

This implies an acceleration of almost 60% compared to renewables’ expansion over the last five years. Continuous policy support in more than 130 countries, ambitious net zero goals announced by nations accounting for almost 90% of global GDP, and improving competitiveness of wind and solar PV are all driving this expansion.  Investment in sectors such as renewables, nuclear, zero-emission vehicles or recycling projects totalled $1.1 trillion last year, matching spending on fossil fuels according to a report by Bloomberg.

Nonetheless, despite this growing support, renewables face a range of policy uncertainties and implementation challenges, including those relating to financing, permitting, social acceptance and grid integration.  Let us visit one German consortium TES (Three Energy Solutions) which prides itself as the first major European Green Energy Hub in Wilhelmshaven (a deep-water port and is situated between the rivers Ems and Weser banks of the Jade delta).  It is planned to come on stream in 2027 by actively building hydrogen projects to accelerate the renewable energy transition.

It shall export green hydrogen at scale into global markets with a business model based on technologies for current and future hydrogen users, particularly across mobility, industrial, and power sectors.  The company was founded in 2019 and is developing the first world-class European Green Energy Hub in Germany.

It will provide sustainable, reliable, clean, non-intermittent energy to leading German customers being in mobility, industry, power sectors in the form of green hydrogen, green gas, and green power.  

Stakeholders who want to know more about this exciting subject of Green Fuel, are invited to reserve a place at a PKF conference hosted at the Hilton.

This packs technical presentations from 16 experts both local and foreign on environment and starting a path towards green energy.  We are pleased to note that the event will be opened by hon Minister Miriam Dalli (minister for energy and sustainable development) delivering a keynote speech on this exciting subject.  

Mark your calendar to be among delegates at the Hilton Malta on 12 April 2023 from 9am to 2pm.  It is an event not to be missed and will be followed by a networking lunch and drinks.  This is a revolutionary theme which if taken at the flood will lead to fortune.

There is no doubt that something big must be done to fight climate change.  Considering our highly mobilized community, the advent of a booming tourism industry and our 100% dependency on fossil fuels, it is time that stakeholders wake up and seriously start educating themselves on wind and solar energy with the eventual generation of green hydrogen.

George M. Mangion is a senior partner at PKFMalta

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