The Malta Independent 28 June 2022, Tuesday

TMID Editorial: The shift towards renewables

Saturday, 21 May 2022, 10:27 Last update: about 2 months ago

Climate change is, rightly, at the top of many agendas at the moment.  As the world gets hotter and hotter – something which Malta will no doubt be reminded about again over the coming summer – the need for solutions becomes greater.

One of the most significant solutions is in the energy sector.  Reliance on fossil fuels is one of the chief causes of the global warming of the past years, which means that a shift towards renewable energy is amongst the matters which are of paramount importance.

ADVERTISEMENT

This is a matter which Energy Minister Miriam Dalli was quizzed about earlier this week.

Answering journalists' questions about the government’s vision for new renewable energy farms, Dalli said that the finance ministry is taking care of exclusive economic zones to find potential areas for renewable energy farms, this being offshore areas at sea.

In March, Dalli had told a Chamber of Commerce debate that Malta will generate a minimum 50 Megawatts from offshore wind farms or 65 MW from offshore solar plants by 2030. Dalli had emphasised Malta’s energy policy would be anchored in renewable energy, with various studies on offshore windfarms in Malta having already been carried out.

“The reality is that the technology which makes sense for our country is the floating offshore renewable energy farms, which, despite being considerably more expensive, the government is conscious of that fact and is working towards preparing towards reaching our potential for renewable energy,” Dalli said.

This is encouraging to hear, but the fact of the matter is that Malta still lags far behind when it comes to renewable energy.

Malta had committed to reach a target share of energy from renewable sources of 10.0% by 2020 and 11.5% by 2030 in gross final consumption of energy – however the country fell short of the first aim, reaching only 8%, meaning that it had to purchase €2 million in renewable energy credits from Estonia in order to reach its targets.

Much of this was supported by solar energy: in fact, solar is responsible for more than 97% of Malta’s renewable energy.

Incentives to the uptake of solar energy should certainly continue – although a recent planning application to change six football pitches worth of agricultural land into what is effectively a solar farm has left a bitter taste in the mouth of many.

This is rightly so: widespread solar panel use should be restricted either to the roofs of buildings – indeed, planning laws to incorporate solar panels as a mandatory condition for developments of a significant footprint wouldn’t be a bad idea – or else to areas which had already been committed, such as within back-filled disused quarries, as is the case for a development in Mqabba.

However it’s clear that solar will not be enough to carry out the necessary shift to renewable energy in the time frame that it needs to be.

We need to be bolder, and Dalli’s assertion that something like floating wind energy is being considered is one to be welcomed.

It may be an investment of certain fiscal expense, but one must look at these things in the long-term.  The fact of the matter is that in the long-term the climate situation will continue to get worse and worse if the shift towards renewable energy and away from fossil fuels does not happen soon.

  • don't miss