The Malta Independent 25 March 2019, Monday

Timing, location and unity of purpose

Sunday, 23 December 2018, 12:00 Last update: about 4 months ago

A Chinese-Maltese collaboration delivering greener energy, a better life and aspirations for the future

The Chinese believe that, if you want to achieve an objective, there are three important prerequisites: the right timing, a good location, and unity of purpose among those seeking that objective. This ancient wisdom is reflected in SEP (Malta) Holding Ltd (SEPM), a relatively new energy platform, set up in November 2014 as a result of cooperation between Shanghai Electric Power and the Malta Government.

Meanwhile, 2018 has been a year during which China-Malta relations advanced steadily. Both governments have conducted a number of high-level exchanges, entered into a number of agreements aligned with China's international "Belt and Road" initiative, and pursued a medium-term cooperation plan.

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Tracing its history back to 1882, Shanghai Electric Power Co. Ltd. has a successful track record in China, and throughout the world, as it spearheaded a number of large-scale, sustainable, energy projects. 

Benefitting from the resources of its parent group, over the last four years, SEPM has constantly aimed to improve people's lives by providing more efficient and sustainable energy solutions for Malta, its people and its economy.

SEPM is a majority shareholder in D3 Power Generation Limited (D3PG), and International Renewable Energy Development Limited (IREDL). In addition, it is a minority shareholder of Enemalta plc and the International Energy Services Centre (IESC). Through these four entities, SEPM is actively involved in generating power from traditional and renewable sources, including gas, solar and wind; distributing energy via the power grid; and providing additional energy services. 

When SEPM took over D3 Power Plant early in 2015, the first challenge for the company was to convert it to run on natural gas or light fuel - instead of heavy fuel oil. Following extensive investment, intensive work and close collaboration with suppliers, this was achieved, ahead of schedule, leading to greater efficiency and a more secure supply. Equally important was the fact that the process of generating energy became much more ecofriendly - this is relevant for Malta's commitments to its EU-level 2020 targets, and also for every individual living in, and around Marsaxlokk.

Indeed, emissions from D3 are now drastically below the required maximum levels for the plant, contributing to a significantly healthier environment.

As an EU member country situated in the centre of the Mediterranean region, Malta offers a number of advantages which have led, in the last four years, to the launch of various commercial initiatives such as the setting up of the International Energy Services Centre. This joint venture between SEPM and Enemalta draws upon the expertise of both partners and provides a range of professional energy services related to construction, technological transformation, power plant shut downs, and consultancy in the European Union and the Region.

Another important strategic subsidiary is International Renewable Energy Development Ltd. Having completed a number of photo-voltaic projects in Malta, this company is now seeking to develop international opportunities. Together with Enemalta and other international partners, it has developed a 46 Megawatt Wind Farm at Mozura in Montenegro, in the Balkan peninsula, with the first gas turbines connected to the grid in the past week.     

The energy cooperation projects between SEPM and Enemalta are already delivering results that benefit the environment, the economy and society. Following its conversion, D3 was successfully operating with natural gas during its first full year of operation. Apart from the Mozura wind power project, more than 1MW of energy has been generated via photovoltaic projects in Malta. Other projects are in the phase of being gradually launched.

SEPM CEO Mr Baojie Sheng said: "Shanghai Electric Power is an enterprise with a body of knowledge and experiences spanning more than a century in various continents. Over the last four years, SEPM has endeavoured to live up to the good practice example established by our parent company. We adhere to the concepts of sustainable development and actively aim to develop responsible investments, by seeking not only economic benefits, but also environmental, infrastructural and social advantages for the whole community."

When the timing is right

That so much has been achieved by SEPM over a relatively short span of four years is testament not only to the long-standing friendship between the Chinese and Maltese governments, but also to the strategic cooperation between Shanghai Electric Power and Enemalta plc.

In a number of ways, this fruiful collaboration is proving the veracity of the Chinese proverb about timing being crucially important; SEPM actively contributed towards the reduction of Malta's electricity tariffs, and also played a part in fostering strong economic development and robust ratings improvements - all good for the country's business and trade in general.   

At the same time, Shanghai Electric Power's 136 years of accumulated knowledge and experience in power and energy production has enabled SEPM and its subsidiaries to contribute to capital, technology and management expertise in Malta.

 

Advantageous location

Whilst its geographical territory is small, Malta offers an unparalleled strategic location in the centre of the Mediterranean region. The country's friendly bilateral relations with both European and North African states offer clear potential for SEPM to broaden its horizon beyond Malta to these neighbouring countries.  

Furthermore, Malta has the added advantage that it can offer high-quality talent locally, as it continues to attract many capable employees from various EU countries.

SEPM has therefore been able to develop an international, professionally capable team, eager to add value to the company's development. Composed of employees from Malta, the Republic of Macedonia, Portugal, Serbia and Greece, the team is focused on delivering excellence.

This is precisely why, as part of its three-step Development Strategy which is aligned with China's "The Belt and Road" initiative, SEP (Malta) Holding Ltd is positioning itself as an integrated energy supplier in the region. With its solid starting point in Malta, and following its

 

Unity of purpose

SEPM believes in the community featuring extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits which are promoted by "The Belt and Road Initiative". In reality, SEPM puts into practice its own adage "Greener Energy, Better Life" as rather than looking at what can be gained today, the company is building a lasting legacy that is of benefit to the community as a whole, today and for the future.

Combining the resources from both countries and fostering a stronger collaboration are increasingly providing a basis for unprecedented collaboration.  Practical examples include the transfer of managerial, engineering and technical knowledge, such as when engineering students from the University of Malta are invited to visit the D3 power plant to acquire specialised understanding of a gas-fired environment, or when SEPM's employees visit China and Europe for dedicated training.

Last year, SEPM took the lead in setting up the Chinese Commercial Community in Malta, a formal association serving as a counterpart to the Malta Chamber of Commerce and the Maltese Chinese Chamber of Commerce. SEPM currently presides the new entity which aims to further promote economic and trade exchanges between China and Malta.

Offering events related to people's welfare, whether cultural or medical, further contributes to SEPM's vision. The company actively reaches out to residents, visitors and tourists alike and, for the second consecutive year, held a festival consisting of Chinese performances and cultural experience activities provided by the Chinese Cultural Centre, as well as Chinese traditional medical consultation by the Mediterranean Centre for Chinese Traditional Medicine. Another example is sponsoring the Children's Painting Contests, in pursuit of talents fostering and cultural exchange.

The historic cooperation between Malta and China, today spanning over 46 years, now has reached a new level, and a significant part of this success is the strategic partnership between SEPM and Enemalta both in Malta and Montenegro. As the strong collaboration continues to flourish, in cooperation with  Malta's Ministry for Energy and Water Management, more exciting prospects are expected to be unfolded in the short to medium term. 

SEPM CEO Mr Sheng concluded: "From our side we have certainly brought a lot to the table - economic benefits, environmental improvements, energy sector expertise and of course active engagement with the local community. In truth however, SEP (Malta) Holding Ltd is being successful here because of Malta and the Maltese themselves.  As we say where I come from, neither mountain nor sea will keep people apart... once they embrace the same aspirations. We are keen to embark on this new journey together."

 

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