'Pitting the gas tanker versus the interconnector is testament to parties’ empty rhetoric' - ADPD

The Greens are advocating for homegrown, renewable, and clean energy rather than an investment in a second interconnector

ADPD said that the lack of vision and planning of the political parties made Malta totally dependent on unreliable sources of energy (Photo: ADPD)
ADPD said that the lack of vision and planning of the political parties made Malta totally dependent on unreliable sources of energy (Photo: ADPD)

ADPD - The Green Party said that the "theatrics" in parliament, pitting the gas tanker versus the interconnector, was a testament to the parliamentary parties’ empty rhetoric.

During a Saturday press conference in Birżebbuġa, the Greens said that it was the lack of vision and planning of the two main parties that made Malta totally dependent on unreliable sources of energy, resulting in frequent energy blackouts in extensive parts of the country.

ADPD Secretary General Ralph Cassar said that Energy Minister Miriam Dalli was wrong in saying that the government’s vision on energy and climate change was ambitious.

“They are as ambitious as her counterparts sitting opposite her in parliament. Non-action now will mean much more difficult decisions tomorrow, when fuels will become more expensive,” Cassar said.

He referred to the government’s target to increase by 11.5% the share of renewable energy in gross final energy consumption in 2030 was risible. Cassar remarked how it was just 1.5% above the 2020 target, which had already been reached.

He added that this meant that the combustion of fossil fuels as a source of energy would continue to affect Malta economically because all fuels are imported, whether through tankers or a pipeline.

“Interconnector electricity also exposes the country to the instability of the energy market,” Cassar said. He insisted that the country needed to move away from token measures and, instead of wasting hundreds of millions of euros on a new interconnector, invest them in renewable energy.

“Homegrown, renewable, and clean. Investing hundreds of millions in renewables and in the strengthening of the distribution network will mean new jobs in Malta, rather than exporting hundreds of millions of Euro abroad.”

He argued that action was needed to reassess commercial activity at sea and reassign some areas to activities related to renewable energy. Cassar said that photovoltaics on commercial buildings should be made compulsory.

“In the case of the construction industry, it is so far crystal clear that government will not lift a finger to push towards carbon-neutral buildings, to require compulsory installations of solar water heating and photovoltaic systems, not even on large projects, let alone retrofitting of older buildings.”

Cassar questioned the reason why micro-wind turbines were not being considered for industrial areas. He said that the compulsory installation of renewable energy sources with the right incentives and disincentives on commercial and industrial roof space were absent from government policies and strategies.

“Financial incentives for industry and the services sector should be tied to clear, measurable commitments to zero-carbon. It is in the commercial sector’s interest too after all to have clear and ambitious zero-carbon policies,” Cassar said.

The ADPD Secretary General said that such policies would provide the certainty needed for long-term investment.

“The less dependent we are on imported energy sources, the better, for business, for jobs, for society, and for our wellbeing, health, and environment. These policies, however, seem to be too ‘Green’ and progressive for this ‘market-friendly’ government,” Cassar said.

He concluded by saying that a serious commitment to energy efficiency and zero-carbon targets for the services and industrial sector was also missing.

ADPD Chairperson Carmel Cacopardo said that during severe storms, it was inevitable that the LNG tanker was put out of action, as the consequences of not doing so could be catastrophic.

He said that there were also frequent incidents with the interconnector.

“This goes to show that the government led by the PN had refused to seriously consider a gas pipeline proposal by AGIP some years back, was a huge mistake. Instead, it had lumped us with one of the dirtiest form of energy, heavy fuel oil,” Cacopardo said.

He belied the PN rhetoric that the second interconnector was some kind of solution.

Cacopardo stated that the Labour Government’s energy policy was just as confusing and blamed the frequent power cuts on the energy generation policies.

He said it was irrelevant whether the interconnector tripped as a result of being overloaded or whether it developed a fault as a result of something else.

“It is a case of trusting too much the interconnector and being dependent on it […] The net result is that power stoppage is becoming too frequent an occurrence. The expense incurred in repairs is substantial. The damage to our economy and our competitiveness is enormous. We need to get our energy priorities right very quickly,” Cacopardo said.

He said that since the process for a gas pipeline from Italy had already started, it did not make sense to waste money on a second interconnector.

“What makes sense is reducing as much as possible the country’s dependence both on gas and on energy from the existing interconnector, through increasing efficiency in energy consumption – including by ensuring that those who waste energy pay the full cost of their consumption – and investing in renewable energy and retrofitting of buildings to make them carbon-neutral,” Cacopardo said.

He argued that Labour and PN governments always sought to reduce Malta’s renewable energy targets to “risible” levels.

Cacopardo said that PL and PN also brag about reducing the targets to 10% from 20% by 2020 (negotiated by a PN government) and 11.5% by 2030 (negotiated by a Labour government and referred to in the draft National Sustainable Development Strategy).

“We need more ambitious targets than that. Achieving a 50 percent target for renewable energy generation over a ten-year timeframe would be more suitable to our needs and requirements. Without ambitious targets, we will never achieve the 2050 carbon neutrality objective,” concluded Cacopardo.