Labour’s hydrogen greenwash is ‘ruse’ and ignores need for renewable energy

Green party ADPD says technology for clean hydrogen is still in its infancy and that government failing to push for shift to renewable energy

Malta’s green party has poured cold water over claims by the Labour government of a hydrogen-ready pipeline being the marker of its vision for a clean energy transition.

Ralph Cassar, ADPD secretary-general, called Robert Abela’s recent reference to hydrogen as the fuel source that will be supplied through a new gas pipeline “a ruse”.

Malta has obtained a derogation from the European Commission that will allow a proposed hydrogen-ready pipeline to be finally recognised as a Project of Common Interest by the EU, after failing to obtain funding earlier in the year.

But Cassar said Malta should be pushing for more energy generation from renewables, rather than fossil sources.

“The technology for clean hydrogen is still in its infancy. Hydrogen produced from fossil fuels is not clean. The discussion about energy is still stuck in the usual tit-for-tat between the PN and PL about ‘cheap’ energy from a second interconnector – again both are missing the wood for the trees,” Cassar said.

“The way forward is increasing exponentially our local generation of renewable energy from a mixture of sources including solar, wind and wave, and reducing our total dependency on foreign fuel sources.”

National Statistics Office data has shown that electricity from photovoltaic systems increased by 20.5% over a year in 2020, which Cassar said shows how a shift in emphasis – from interconnectors and pipelines to renewables – more energy can be generated locally.

“It increases jobs and reducing dependence on foreign sources. It is disappointing that the commercial and public sectors, account for only 5.5% and 0.9% of clean energy. Government should lead the way,” Cassar said.

ADPD Chairperson Carmel Cacopardo said: “A post-pandemic recovery strategy is in the offing. We insist that every company, especially the large ones, including: banks, insurance companies and financial sector companies that received or will receive some form of public aid, should be obliged to change their operations concretely, in order that mean global temperature increase is kept below 1.5°C.

“These plans, based on science, should include clear targets for companies to achieve a zero carbon target as quickly as possible. There should also be investment to improve the electricity distribution system not only to reduce energy losses but also to make it possible to better transmit and distribute a larger volumes of renewable energy generated in residential areas.”

The European Commission had shut the door to any funding for Malta’s gas pipeline earlier in 2021, after informing the government that its proposal for a €400 million “hydrogen-ready” pipeline fell short of a sufficient justification.

Malta had already failed to obtain financing in 2019 from the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) funds due to the Commission’s de-prioritisation of gas projects in its bid to move fast on climate change targets. In 2020 it proposed to have the gas pipeline be able to procure hydrogen in a bid to placate EC decision-makers, but its proposal did not provide a detailed assessment of alternative options for renewable gases and other decarbonisation objectives.