The Malta Independent 18 April 2024, Thursday
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Malta is finalising policy document on deployment of offshore renewable energy systems - Dalli

Kevin Schembri Orland Thursday, 18 May 2023, 10:16 Last update: about 12 months ago

Malta is "finalising a policy document focusing on the deployment of offshore renewable energy systems," Energy Minister Miriam Dalli said during a meeting with energy ministers and top officials from nine EU countries.

Ministers and top officials responsible for energy from Malta, Croatia, Cyprus, France, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain met in Valletta on Thursday for a Med9 meeting to discuss the energy sector. European Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson also joined the meeting.

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The first roundtable session is on Accelerating the EU ambition on renewables in the current energy reality. The second roundtable is on the role of the Mediterranean as a green energy hub. This session is being held in preparation for the EU Med 9 summit that will be held towards the end of the year.  

Energy Minister Miriam Dalli opened the Med9 meeting. "This is an opportunity for the Mediterranean countries to focus on an important theme, that of energy," she said.

"We are around this table as we understand the potential of the Mediterranean Sea," she said. "The potential of opportunities that can help us on the road towards clean energy, and can help us have stability."

"We are speaking about the possibility of opportunities for renewable energy which can result in investment in the blue and green economy."

She said that the realities of the past two years left an impact on everyone, including consumers and businesses. "The EU is taking a number of initiatives to ensure energy security and strengthen renewable energy. We want the Mediterranean to have a central role in this change."

"I am confident that today we will be a united group pushing forward an energy vision that is sustainable, diversified and that holds at its core the best interests of our citizens."

Dalli told leaders that "we need to plan ahead to ensure that long-term solutions are able to withstand any shock, aligned with solutions to address the long-term climate crisis. The production and deployment of indigenous clean energy is the ultimate solution that can help decarbonise our energy sector."

Malta is considering floating offshore renewables as the technology "that can help us make the leap needed to ensure a higher share of renewables in our energy mix," she said.

"Malta has carried out a Pre-Market Consultation and we are currently finalising a policy document focusing on the deployment of offshore renewable energy systems. This will then lead to the identification of potential zones for implementing offshore renewable energy and the eventual launch of an Expression of Interest for the first ever floating renewable energy projects."

"We believe that EU funds need to be channelled towards innovative renewable energy projects that attract investment across all sea basins, including the Mediterranean." This, she said, should focus on two fronts, the required financial support for research and innovation in new emerging technologies, and the required financial support for grid developments and proper infrastructure for the production, transmission, and storage of energy.  

"Reinforcing efforts to complete and improve our energy interconnections is crucial to safeguard our combined competitiveness, whilst reinforcing the conditions needed to retain and attract new businesses," she said.

She urged the Commission to help accelerate close cooperation amongst Member States and to facilitate the development of new partnerships with other regions.

"Cooperation with North Africa will play a vital role in accelerating the deployment of renewables in the EU."

EU Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson also delivered introductory remarks, and said that one year ago, the EU Commission presented the RepowerEU plan. Natural gas prices are down to pre-war levels, she said, adding that gas storage is 2/3rds full.

She said that the EU diversified supplies, prioritised renewables and energy efficiency savings.  "Putin's attempt to blackmail us was unsuccessful and one year on we managed what many thought impossible."

She said that around 16 gigawatts of onshore and offshore wind was installed in 2022. This was more than 50% more than a year earlier, she added. Altogether, wind and solar produced more electricity than we produced electricity from gas, she said.

The Mediterranean Region has the potential to become a leading green energy centre - Dalli

In the second roundtable session, regarding the role of the Mediterranean as a green energy hub, Minister Dalli said that the Mediterranean offers two primary opportunities.

"First, Mediterranean countries have the potential to be clean energy producers and exporters of cheaper renewable energy to the EU. Secondly, the Mediterranean can serve as a natural transit region for importing low-cost renewable electricity and green gases including hydrogen. Thus, the Mediterranean Region has the potential to become a leading green energy centre."

She said that there is a lot of potential "in cooperating between ourselves and our Mediterranean partners and I believe that this collaboration has been long overdue. We need to establish long lasting cooperation with our neighbouring countries to establish the ideal platform for collaboration and exchange of knowledge and expertise."

Developing a Green Energy Centre in the Mediterranean region could provide the whole of Europe with energy diversification and cleaner energy, while making the EU countries less vulnerable to supply disruptions and energy price fluctuations, Dalli said.

"Concrete solutions can help facilitate investments addressing transmission bottlenecks, increased energy interconnectivity, the development of smart grids, energy storage systems, large-scale onshore and offshore Renewable Energy Systems and the production and importation of green energy."

The reality, she said, is that the deployment of offshore technologies for electricity generation in the Mediterranean Sea has not as yet developed as rapidly as that in the Northern European region. "To unlock the potential that exists in the Mediterranean region a joint regional effort is required. I believe that developing a Green Energy Hub can help facilitate and foster regional dialogue and collaboration between Member States in the MED region and other Mediterranean countries to develop concrete projects with common initiatives."

Apart from being a producer of clean energy the Mediterranean may also serve as the natural transit region for low-cost solar-sourced electricity imports and for green gases including hydrogen, Dalli added.

"This would require the prioritisation of green corridors and nodes in the Mediterranean region and significant investments to set new infrastructure links. Interconnections between countries can facilitate the sharing of energy resources, including the development of smart grids and energy storage technologies which will ultimately assist in overcoming intermittency issues."

 

This article will be updated shortly
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