The Malta Independent 13 July 2024, Saturday
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Prime Minister highlights need to accelerate energy distribution system investment plans

Wednesday, 26 July 2023, 14:52 Last update: about 13 months ago

Prime Minister Robert Abela has highlighted the need to accelerate Malta's energy distribution system investment plans.

During an interview on One Radio, Abela said that the predicted effects of climate change by experts manifested themselves earlier than expected, and highlighted the heat wave being experienced in Malta and the surrounding countries.

"Today the climate challenge manifested itself in a high temperature heat wave lasting days, exceeding what we were used to. Today the climate challenge, climate change and rising global temperatures manifested themselves in these symptoms. Tomorrow, they could manifest themselves in storms, and we are seeing them around the world." This is the global phenomenon we are facing, he said.

Abela announced that the Malta Council for Economic and Social Development (MCESD) he called will take place on Friday and will see the discussion focus on what was immediately done to address the challenges faced over the past days, to discuss the energy distribution plan and also to discuss the impact of climate change.

"We will explain our work and plan and will also listen," he said, adding that the government will take valid suggestions onboard.

He said that at the United Nations Climate Change Conference, the main factors leading discussions between leaders were based on what climate experts were saying, who said that if the country doesn't reduce toxic emissions then temperatures will rise. "They gave us the predictions of what the effects would be of doing nothing globally or of what the effects if measures are taken to resist the rising temperature would be. They told us in what year symptoms of rising temperature would start being seen. What the experts predicted as happening in a number of years time, we are seeing happening now. That is the reality the world faces."

He said that extreme temperatures over a number of days created major pressure and inconvenience for people.

Abela said that the distribution plan was already being implemented. "Due to the fact that it is clear that climate change is accelerated, we must accelerate the implementation of strengthening the electrical current distribution system," he said.

In 2013, he said, "this government inherited a situation where the distribution system was inferior to what it is today. Cabling from powerstations and the interconnector to homes and businesses were inferior to today. More than that, we had power plants that were very inferior." He said that the PL government had to address two situations - energy distribution and provision.

He spoke about strengthening energy provision through the implementation of interconnector, which was started by the PN, and the power station. "This year, he said, consumption reached a record. If this investment wasn't made, we would have had a country that would have been unable to meet the demand."

A main factor to combat climate change is the move towards electrification, he said, highlighting the ongoing changeover to electric vehicles as an example, but also mentioning electrification in other sectors.

He said that this increases pressure on the electricity system, which he said that the country is meeting over time.

He said that in PL's electoral manifesto, one finds that 5 proposals about the distribution plan, which include strengthening it by constructing 200 new substations. Of these, he said 66 were already built.

In terms of energy provision, he said that the powerstation, interconnector and solar power are more than enough to meet the country's needs.

In terms of the distribution system, he said that in normal temperatures the cables carrying the electrical current seem to be able to handle the demand well, but when there are extreme temperatures the fragile point is where one cable connects to another.

"Does this mean having to replace all the cables? Experts say that the cable system is good, but we can strengthen it by reducing pressure on them," he said, mentioning that this can be done by building more distribution centres, substations and laying more cables.

He said the government has also strengthened transformers in existing distribution centres. "This plan had already started, but now naturally has to be accelerated. It has to be accelerated as the phenomenon of climate change accelerated."

Based on climate experts predictions, the government had planned to invest €90 million over six years, in addition to an additional €70 million from Repower EU. "Since the challenge accelerated, what was planned for six years must be accelerated and done more quickly and we need to give more. The funds are there," he said.

He also took aim at the Opposition's call for a national emergency, saying that political maturity requires national unity to address issues, and that the PN Leader falls to partisan games.

"A declaration will not bring back energy provision, but Enemalta's work will."

Also asked about the consultation for the licensing of masons, he said that it compliments reforms regarding the licensing of building contractors. He said that level of people operating in construction will rise. He said the country had an absurd situation where to drive a car a person needed a licence, but to demolish a building, excavate and build, a person didn't need a license."

Practices like contractors employing unqualified personnel will end. "We want qualified and trained people." The licensing regime will mean that employers in the sector will take better care of their employees, meaning better wages, better health and safety. The sector won't see a constant turnover of people, as employers will have licensed people and will want to keep them."



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