[WATCH] Valletta cruise liner pollution being tackled with €50m quayside electricity supply

€50 million Valletta shore-side subtation will allow cruise liners to switch off engines and reduce pollution from nitrogen dioxide equivalent to 300,000 cars driving from Mellieha to Marsaxlokk

Valletta cruise liner pollution being tackled with €50m quayside electricity supply

The government has announced a €50 million project which will enable cruise liners to be electrically supplied from the port while berthed.

The shore-side electricity plant will enable cruise liners in the Grand Harbour to switch off their engines, reducing pollution in the area.

A cruise liner generates the amount of nitrogen dioxide equivalent to 300,000 cars driving from Mellieha to Marsaxlokk over eight hours, a 2015 study revealed.

The project will consist of two phases, the first being the supply of shore-side electricity to five quays, and is expected to reach completion by 2023. The five quays will be able to supply berthed cruise liners with 33kV of energy and will see the laying out 22km of underground cables. 

Smaller-sized vessels will also be able to make use of the facilities, with a convertor being installed, supplying the ships with 11kV of energy. 

The second phase will see the installation of two more quays at Ras Hanzir, with Infrastructure Malta architect Janice Borg stating that the quays will be used for smaller-sized vessels, but can also be used for cruise liners when needed. 

The shore-side electricity network that Infrastructure Malta is planning to develop in the Grand Harbour will be connected to the national grid through the Marsa North Distribution Centre.

Infrastructure Malta CEO Fredrick Azzopardi said the project will see a 39.6% decrease in carbon dioxide, a 92.6% decrease in particulate matter, a 93% decrease in sulphur dioxide and a 93% decrease in nitrogen dioxide. 

Five quays will be able to supply berthed cruise liners with 33-kilo volts of energy and will see the laying out 22km of underground cables
Five quays will be able to supply berthed cruise liners with 33-kilo volts of energy and will see the laying out 22km of underground cables

Infrastructure Minister Ian Borg said that this is the biggest environmental project in the south since the closure of the Marsa power station. “Around 49% of the population lives in the vicinity of the Grand Harbour, and as studies have shown the amount of pollution emitted by the cruise liners is very high, therefore we are looking at a project that will be improving the well-being of nearly half the population,” Borg said.

Borg also said that the government will be looking at securing EU funds for the project while insisting that the project will be contributing to Malta’s agreement with the Paris treaty. 

Malta will only be the third EU country to adopt such measures in its ports while having the largest and most advanced facilities. 

The shore-side facility robotic arm situated on the pier will be extending towards the vessels when they are berthed, providing electricity for the ship. 

While the facilities will be optional for cruise liners, new ship designs all enable the use of shore-side electricity, according to the harbour master David Bugeja. 

He also said that while it will be optional, Malta’s strategic position means that newly launched cruise liners regularly include the country in their route.

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