Disagreement with the proposal to have Malta’s electricity supply dependent on a submarine cable

EPOU’S VIEWS ON THE CLIMATE CHANGE COMMITTEE (CCC) REPORT

‘ The EPOU does not agree with the recommendation no. 23 regarding the sub-marine cable connecting Malta to Sicily. Questions arise whether the security of supply will be threatened at the expense of reducing emissions.  The submarine cable is a real time provider of electricity and given the scenario of a cable fault occurring when 200MW are being supplied, the electricity network in Malta  will surely collapse and plunge the whole nation in darkness with very serious consequences for the whole business community on the island.  To add insult to injury repairing a fault at sea is not an easy task especially if the elements of nature are against you. The cable interconnection has to be evaluated vis-à-vis the political, economical and social implications it may have.’

This is one of the views which the EPOU has submitted to the Climate Change Committee in response to the Committee’s public request for feedback on its report.

Late last year the Union was accepted by MEUSAC as a sectorial committee, and in response set up a Sub-Committee of engineers from amongst  its members with a view to studying the Climate Change Report.

Other views submitted have included the following,

* Agreement with the CCC Report that there are many constraints in adopting wind as a renewable source of energy. However, it strongly believes that a proper pilot project should first be initiated by the local authorities since not all sites are suitable for wind farming and that proper wind studies has to be performed on sites linked to be adequate to host wind turbines. Noting that internationally the number of installed wind turbines at a depth equal to that of Maltese sea is still low, and that floating offshore wind turbines are expensive and are still being developed, this committee would suggest the installation of just 2 x 3MWe turbines on shore at this stage.

This would thus not affect the local generating power stations when wind

drops or accelerates. As a first step, one can start on a provision of offshore locations for research and development to start building local knowledge on the subject. In the meantime Malta will be starting to get the know-how and experience, indispensable to run such equipment.

* Instead of investing a high initial cost on an interconnection cable to have a source of renewable energy from abroad, the EPOU recommends the introduction of higher incentives in photovoltaic installations on household roofs. In this way, interested parties willing to install PV cells on their roof can be further encouraged to carry out such a project. This incentive should also allow the local energy authority to buy back at a more reasonable rate the excess energy produced.
* There should be a form of partnership between the government and the private sector to follow a common path to tackle the challenges of climate change. Quarterly, all stakeholders should meet and analyse their progress in the actions taken. A certificate similar to that instigated by the NECC in the Euro Changeover to show the participation of the private sector in such programmes would be issued and presented to the company involved.
* With regards to the transport section, it is proposed to have a time window when heavy trucks are allowed to circulate on our roads. Suitable parking spaces will need to be provided in order to divert these vehicles should they happen to be on the road during the prohibited time. Otherwise a planned route should be set to indicate from where these heavy vehicles can pass during the peak hours.
* An agreement between local councils and the government should take place to address the issue of our roads status. There are secondary roads which motorists prefer not to use because of their bad state despite that using these roads can be faster. As a result more cars are present in the main junctions resulting in higher GHG emissions.
* The car sharing scheme must be encouraged by employers where each worker seeks for other co workers living in his vicinity and use only one car to travel to work. Besides, being convenient, this scheme helps in reducing green house gases emissions. Firms in industrial estates together with nearby local councils can also set up projects to tackle the emissions that are produced by cars.
* Given the favourable weather, there are only few days around the year in which bicycles are not suitable. Proper and continuous bicycle tracks should be built which safely connect villages to industrial estates to encourage workers to use their bicycles to travel to work.
* Note has been taken of considerable amount of unregulated wood burning fire places being installed in households causing an uncontrolled source of GHG emission as most of the wood being burnt is uncertified and not suitable for such a process. Tighter control and regulations on wood burning fire place installations are required. Furthermore, a national awareness campaign should be initiated, especially on burning wood containing lead paint. The authorities should either speak in favour of installation of gas burning fireplaces or request stringent emission filtering measures on these wood burning fireplaces’ chimneys.

3rd March 2009

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