Renewable energy’s contribution to energy security

Last Updated on Thursday, 17 August, 2023 at 9:51 pm by Andre Camilleri

Mark Bajada sits on the Board of Management at the Malta Chamber and is managing director at Bajada New Energy.

As our country and industry continue to make strides towards greening the economy, we must focus on a few key issues which will help us to untangle this knot. On Malta’s road towards net zero emissions, one of the great challenges of our country is its energy intensity, which is a measure of the energy efficiency of a nation’s economy. If a country has a high energy intensity, that means it uses a lot of energy to produce one unit of economic output, implying a less energy-efficient economy. Malta has long been considered as one of the EU countries with the highest energy intensity, demonstrating a significant reliance on imported fossil fuels, limited use of renewable energy resources and inefficient energy consumption patterns. At a time of global energy insecurity, the need for Malta to generate a greater share of its own renewable energy, and to use what energy we have more efficiently, has never been greater.

The country’s renewable energy targets have taken into consideration one particular challenge – our population density. As we build upwards, and as more people live in the same limited footprint, the same amount of roof space is available for solar panels, and thus, it is more difficult to cater for the energy needs of that increased urban density. At the same time, overall national energy consumption has been increasing, with a new record of 604MW reached at peak hours this summer, the first time that this figure went beyond 600MW. In tandem, it is to be understood that the subsidised cost of energy cannot continue being subsidised forever. Such forms of state aid will be imperiled after 2023, with the European Temporary Crisis Framework set to expire.

These sobering realities accentuate the need for the strategic shift toward renewable energy sources and increased energy efficiency. They highlight the importance of not only harnessing the power of the sun and wind but also maximising the energy efficiency of our buildings and industry. Transitioning from high energy intensity to a more sustainable paradigm can be an arduous journey, but it is one that Malta can achieve with determination and sectoral collaboration. It is for this reason that the Malta Chamber has proposed a Long-Term Energy Resilience Plan focused on significantly boosting renewable energy generation, which would enable the country to obtain a more diverse energy mix that requires substantial investment in offshore wind and solar energy.

Industry can act faster on the uptake of cutting-edge technology and energy efficiency investments through the exchange of knowledge and best practices. It is for this reason that the Malta Chamber and the Malta Business Bureau have collaborated on the We Make project over the past two years, an initiative funded by the Energy & Water Agency. Through over 12 webinars, a digital fair and other events entailing local and international manufacturing companies and technology providers, companies were able to learn from one another and jumpstart their green transitions. Such events and mentoring programmes are in turn complemented by the services offered by the project partners in parallel, offering guidance and support as needed.

Malta’s road to increased energy security, reliability of supply and competitiveness depend on an increasing renewable energy mix and greater energy efficiency savings. Combining renewables with energy efficiency in a smart manner shall help to address the energy intensity challenges faced by Malta, which suppress Malta’s ability to achieve higher renewable energy targets. Through industry collaboration, there is no doubt that Malta can make the best of the opportunities present today as well as those to come.

This opinion piece is part of a series related to the Water and Energy Management and Knowledge Transfer in Manufacturing Enterprises (We Make) project, which 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.

- Advertisement -