3 May 2007 - 08:38
  • News Code: 103757

The European commissioner responsible for energy, Andris Piebalgs, said that Malta “does not simply need political support on the issue of energy, real action is necessary“.

Piebalgs was in Malta on a flying visit at the end of which he addressed members of the media together with Resources and Infrastructure Minister Ninu Zammit at Malta International Airport, just before leaving for Brussels.

He stressed the importance of interconnecting the Maltese islands to the European grid, as this would “end the country’s isolation“.

“This will be a European project and funds are available to partly cover the costs of this investment,“ he said.

Earlier this week, Enemalta Corporation chairman Alex Tranter said that interconnection with the European grid would have to be up and running by 2012, by which time the old Marsa power station would have to be turned off.

Piebalgs and Zammit discussed the issue of renewable energy in detail. Referring to the EU target for 20 percent of the energy supply to come from renewable sources of energy by 2012, the commissioner said Malta could make a strong contribution in this respect.

While admitting that renewable sources often cost more than conventional energies, he said that what he discussed with Minister Zammit and Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi was how far Malta could go realistically.

“Malta depends almost 100 percent on oil, and the price of this fuel will definitely go up in two or three years’ time. We all know that oil is becoming scarce, so we are looking into ways of how the country can diversify supply and use clean energies. Finding the best available and the most efficient technologies will be a win-win situation,“ said Piebalgs.

Towards the end of June, the governments of all EU member states will be presenting their action plans for energy efficiency to the European Commissioner and Piebalgs said the Maltese government seemed very ambitious in this regard.

He said solar energy was the main renewable that Malta would definitely be able to make good use of. Referring to photovoltaic installations, he said the main difficulty lay in whether or not they were cost-effective, but he also pointed out that Malta could also consider using biogas as another source of renewable energy.

Asked about the main difficulties the country faced with regard to the installation of onshore or offshore wind turbines, Piebalgs said this depended very much on the Maltese public’s acceptance and confidence in this type of technology, particularly due to the country’s size, but he said it was up to the government to decide whether to make use of this type of renewable source of energy.

Zammit pointed out that a report issued by a consultancy group regarding the feasibility of onshore wind farms, showed that only small pockets of land could be used for the installation of wind turbines and this would only generate one percent of the amount of the energy the country required.

As for offshore wind farms, Zammit said that following a call for expressions of interest to develop an offshore wind farm with a final capacity of between 75 and 100 megawatts (about 10 percent of the country’s energy needs) the bids have been evaluated and what now needed to be seen to was the anchorage of the turbines.

During his stay, Piebalgs also took part in a discussion on the European Commission’s energy package with students at St Benedict College in Kirkop, and a conference entitled Energy for Europe at St James Cavalier.

PIN/ INDEPENDENT.COM

 

News Code 103757

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