Malta’s largest solar farm has been inaugurated on Wednesday morning, ready to provide enough energy to power 2,200 homes.
The solar farm is a private initative, and includes 16,896 photovoltaic panels spread over 90,000sqm in a repurposed hardstone quarry in l-Imselliet, limits of Mġarr, in a repurposed hardstone quarry. The energy it generates will be fed into the national power grid, in line with an agreement reached with Enemalta.
The farm is operated by Imselliet Solar Ltd, and is expected to reduce CO2 emissions by some 4,000 tonnes annually. Around 3,300 trees have been planted in a bid to minimise the visual impact of the solar farm.
The government has sought to encourage such initiatives through a policy launched in 2017, as Malta seeks to achieve its renewable energy targets through solar energy. The EU aims to generate 20% of its energy from renewable sources by the end of this year, though Malta’s target is a more modest 10%.
Though initial plans to meet renewable energy targets had mostly relied on wind energy – including through an offshore wind farm off Mellieħa – these plans were scrapped in favour of solar energy. Though wind farms could have various negative environmental impacts, solar farms need to take up more land, though many projects – as is the case with the Mselliet solar farm – have been proposed in disused quarries or landfills.
The solar farm was inaugurated by Prime Minister Robert Abela, who described it as a model that should be followed with respect to the regeneration of disused quarries as well as the need to strike a balance between the environment and development.
“You cannot love economic development but cast the environment aside,” he asserted.