Malta cuts reliance on interconnector for electricity

The cable to Sicily through which electricity is imported from the European grid was used to supply 38% of Malta’s energy needs last year, a drastic drop on the previous year

The interconnector was inaugurated in 2015 and helped deliver cheaper electricity but now Malta has reduced its dependence on the electricity cable
The interconnector was inaugurated in 2015 and helped deliver cheaper electricity but now Malta has reduced its dependence on the electricity cable

Power stations at Delimara supplied the bulk of Malta’s electricity needs last year as Enemalta drastically reduced its dependence on the interconnector to meet demand.

While the interconnector supplied 68% of Malta’s energy needs in 2016, the cable to Sicily supplied 38% of last year’s electricity consumption, figures out today show.

The National Statistics Office said today that Malta consumed 2,376,786MWh of electricity in 2017, an increase of 6% over the previous year. The interconnector supplied 897,066MWh.

In the previous year, the country consumed 2,247,523MWh of electricity of which the interconnector supplied 1,526,689MWh, or 68%.

The interconnector started operating in 2015 and enabled Malta to import cheaper electricity from the European grid.

The information released this morning does not give a breakdown of cost. It remains unclear whether the country made financial gains or losses by reducing its dependence on the interconnector.

However, the shift to energy generation from the power stations also resulted in higher CO2 emissions. From 578 kilotons of CO2 emissions in 2016, electricity generation accounted for 724 kilotons of CO2 last year.

The NSO figures show that demand last year peaked between June and September, with August having the highest demand at 488MW.

Energy from renewable sources increased to 135,525MWh in 2017, a 22% increase over the previous year.

How does Enemalta get its electricity

Electricity is supplied by the Electrogas and D4 (ex BWSC, now owned by Shanghai Electric Power) power stations, which are both privately owned and run, and Enemalta’s own plants at Delimara.

Enemalta has contractual obligations to buy electricity from the Electrogas and D4 power stations that run on gas.

Electrogas is operated by a consortium that includes Maltese companies Gasan and Tumas, German company Siemens and Azerbaijan’s Socar.

D4, known as the BWSC plant, was sold off to Chinese State company Shanghai Electric Power when the latter bought a stake in Enemalta.

Earlier this year, the Daphne Project, a consortium of international journalists that continued some of the work that slain journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia had started, revealed the secretive contract between Enemalta and Electrogas.

An analysis of the figures contained in the contract by a British energy expert had found that Enemalta’s contractual obligation to buy gas from Electrogas at a fixed price for five years may have cost Malta millions in losses because the international price of gas had dropped since the deal was struck in 2015.

The government defended the deal, saying it had sought price stability, while getting private investment to help shift electricity production from the more harmful heavy fuel oil to gas.