“Enemalta: polluting more, spending more” – expert

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Enemalta’s emergency power plants at the Marsa and Delimara are run on gas oil or diesel, the company confirmed to this newsroom. In reply to questions sent in by Newsbook.com.mt, Enemalta confirmed that whenever the emergency power plants are switched on, they run on diesel.

An expert that contacted Newsbook.com.mt said that this is a “double whammy as diesel costs more and pollutes more”.

Emergency after interconnector was damaged

Last December, the 200MW interconnector which links Malta to the European Grid was damaged and since then, the Marsa emergency plants had to be switched on to meet the energy demands.

Enemalta’s energy mix supplies electricity to the grid from three principal sources; the 200MW interconnector, the 205MW D4 power plant operated by Electrogas at Delimara, and the D3 power station (ex BWSC) operated by D3 Power Generation at Delimara which supplies 152.8MW.

D3 and D4 plants run on natural gas. However, the two old power plants at Delimara are run on diesel and are used as backup, such as in the case when the interconnector was damaged.  

Enemalta confirmed that the turbine currently in operation at the old Marsa power station plant runs on diesel.

Sources close to Enemalta told Newsbook.com.mt that the Marsa plant had to be used since the Electrogas power station was working below capacity. These sources said that the ‘old’ Delimara 1 power station, the original which had taken over the Marsa plant, used to produce 120MW on Heavy Fuel Oil but could also be run on diesel. According to the sources, this plant which could have been converted to diesel, was dismantled.

The Electrogas power station produces 150MW and without the interconnector, Malta’s energy demands would not have been met. Repairs on the interconnector are expected to be completed by March until then Enemalta had to fall back on the Marsa plant.

Since 2013 Malta failed to reach emission targets

Asked about the increase in emissions due to the fuel which was being used, Energy Minister Michael Farrugia said that through the use of a mix of gas oil and natural gas, emissions had decreased by 75% over the past six years.

However what the Minister said contrasts starkly to a European Commission progress report which found that Malta had failed to reach its emission reduction target “every year since 2013” and would again need to buy emission reduction credits from other countries that have exceeded their targets.

According to figures published by Eurostat, Malta has been consistently increasing its carbon dioxide emissions. In 2018, the country registered an increase of 6.7 per cent, second only to Latvia, which registered an increase of 8.5 per cent.

The figures showed that while carbon dioxide emissions among the bloc had decreased by 2.5 per cent between 2017 and 2019, Malta along with other seven countries registered an increase.

Carbon dioxide is one of the major contributor to global warming and accounts for around 80 per cent of all EU greenhouse gas emissions.

Malta paying €2 million to Estonia

Newsbook.com.mt asked Minister Farrugia on any emissions trading agreement which the government had reached with another EU Member State. Farrugia told this newsroom that the government sought an emissions trading agreement with Estonia for “a short transitory period”.

“The target is to reach the emission targets in the shortest time possible and eventually reverse the agreement,” Farrugia said.

Malta and Estonia signed a statistical transfer agreement with Estonia in January 2020. The agreement will help Malta reach its renewable targets for 2020.

Earlier this year, Malta has entered into a statistical transfer agreement with Estonia, which will help Malta reach its national renewable targets for 2020.

According to the a statement by the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs, Malta will purchase renewable energy statistics from Estonia for two million euros.

The Estonian Economy Affairs Minister was quoted saying that the volume that will be sold to Malta constitutes approximately five percent of the country’s existing statistical renewable energy surplus.

The statistical transfer agreement was tabled in parliament following a parliamentary question by Opposition MP Karol Aquilina.

From the document tabled in parliament, Malta entered into an agreement where Estonia guaranteed the availability of renewable energy target amount for the price of €20/MWh. Malta agreed to transfer 100,000MWh or 100GWh, and reserved the right to request that such amount is reduced by up to 20GWh or increased by up to 40GWh as required.

Statistical transfers were introduced in the Renewable Energy Directive which under Article 6 made it possible for EU member states to enter such agreements in order to reach their renewable energy targets.

When asked how much was being through taxpayers’ money, Farrugia referred this newsroom to the tabled document.

“This is not a question of how much will paid through taxpayers’ money, this is an issue of having a minimum rate established in that agreement. It is not in our plan to ask for more,” he added.

“This could be a disaster”

The expert that spoke to Newsbook.com.mt said that one of the problems with burning diesel is cost. “This means that we are now paying more. But worse still is the environmental problem.”

The expert said that the burning of diesel will increase the emissions.

The expert recognised the fact that Enemalta had a big problem when the interconnector was damaged.

“This notwithstanding”, said the expert, “we need to realise that we are now polluting more than before and our bad record with controlling emission will become worse. It this situation keeps on going for long we could face a disaster in this area.”

Government keeps agreement with Bulgaria secret

Malta has also signed an agreement with Bulgaria under the Efforts Sharing Decision. The Efforts Sharing legislation establishes binding annual greenhouse gas emission targets for Member States for the periods 2013-2020 and 2021-2030. The targets concern emissions from most sectors which are not included in the EU Emissions Trading System, such as transport, buildings, agriculture and waste.

Recently Opposition MP David Agius’ request for a copy of the agreement to be tabled in the House was turned down by the Minister for Environment Aaron Farrugia, who said that the agreement contained confidential information which might prejudice the European markets. He cited a Commission Implementing Regulation (749/2014) article 26 (2) which says that the European Commission services shall only compile and make available an electronic report and will provide only aggregated data and shall not disclose information from individual Member States on prices per unit of annual emission allocation.

Malta’s commitment with the EU

Malta has 10% target for 2020 with the EU is to reach a 20% energy from renewable sources by 2020. Farrugia said that the private sector was investing in renewable energy. He added that the government welcomes such as investment by the private sector.

In 2007, the EU had launched its 2020 targets which entail Member States substantially reducing their greenhouse gases.

In 2017, Times of Malta had reported that Maltese taxpayers’ money was used to fund a solar farm or some other ‘mystery’ green project, since the country was missing its emissions targets.

Questions have been raised whether about the country’s energy security. Farrugia has dismissed calls for a second interconnector saying that the country should seek to produce its own energy without being dependent on other states.

Solar rights?

Asked whether if it was time to start speaking about the right to light, Minister Farrugia described the argument as interesting, however there were several issues. Farrugia said that such issues could be related to the local plan which allows for higher buildings to be built.

“We need to revisit the local plans, and eventually look into the possibility of having the right to light,” Farrugia explained.