08 MAY 2002
During the presentation of a Consultation Paper on the development of a strategy for the exploitation of renewable energy resources, the Minister for Resources and Infrastructure, Dr. Francis Zammit Dimech said that over the past decades we have experienced a significant increase in our standard of living and economic growth and this had to be sustained by increasing energy supply. This continued economic growth poses new challenges.
He said that Governments approach and policy for the energy sector has to be consistent with the overall and overriding principle of sustainable economic development. While it is realized that we need to retain a degree of control over the sector due to the strategic importance of energy resources, Governments role is slowly being transformed from a leading participant in the market to a more regulatory one. Francis Zammit Dimech said that the establishment of the Malta Resources Authority is intended to provide for such formal, transparent and effective regulation of the sector.
Francis Zammit Dimech said that our vision for the sector is generally consistent with the general policies of the European Union but with particular reference to the Maltese situation, including effective management of all available resources, energy saving and efficiency, and a well balanced fuel mix, where all appropriate energy sources support sustainable economic growth.
The Minister for Resources and Infrastructure added that Malta is committed to a number of European and international obligations that require it to adopt and implement strategies, in the short to medium term, that lead to environmental protection and sustainable development including a sustainable energy system. He said that these include our contribution to the international efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in line with the targets set by the World Environmental Conference in Kyoto and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). He recalled that Malta was an instigator of the UNFCCC process when in 1988 it drew the attention of the international community to the need to conserve climate in the interest of mankind. He added that Malta ratified the UNFCCC in 1994 and the Kyoto Protocol in 2001. As a participant to the UNFCCC, Malta is also currently working to prepare its First National Communication as required under Article 12 where we will be reporting a national inventory of anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, and policies and measures to implement our commitments. Renewable energy is widely considered to constitute an important part of the package of measures that are required to enable countries to comply with the Kyoto Protocol and to the UNFCCC. Francis Zammit Dimech said that the power generation sector is considered to be a major contributor to national greenhouse gas emissions, through the combustion of fossil fuel and CO2 emissions from this sector are estimated to account for about 75% of the total CO2 emissions in Malta.
Francis Zammit Dimech noted that apart from increasing environmental awareness to reduce greenhouse gases and other polluting emissions, as well as Maltas international commitments, Maltas accession to the European Union is also relevant in this field. It provides an additional driver as well as offers challenges, opportunities and supporting frameworks for promoting diversification, technological innovation and investment in renewable energy sources. The EU Directive 2001/77/EC seeks the promotion of electricity produced from renewable energy sources in the internal electricity market.
He said that while the level of exploitation of renewable energy sources varies between the Member States, due to different geographical and climatic conditions and supporting policies, the European Union has been at the forefront to support renewable energy. It has established reference national indicative targets for contribution of electricity produced from renewable energy sources in Member States and is encouraging Member States to adopt appropriate steps to produce electricity from renewable energy sources. Malta is committed to the process of setting our national indicative targets for electricity produced from renewable energy sources.
The Minister for Resources and Infrastructure said that up to now, despite its 0potential to provide significant social, economic and ecological benefits, the use of renewable energy in Malta has been practically insignificant and we are totally dependent on imported oils for power generation.
Renewable energy sources can however contribute positively to import substitution, security of energy supply, meeting increasing energy requirements and economic competitiveness particularly with increasing demand for environmental goods and services. Although their production costs are generally higher than other sources, they do not exhibit the price volatility of conventional resources. Francis Zammit Dimech said one of the most important challenges facing renewable energy resources is an economic one. We therefore need to investigate revisions to existing rules, and operating structures to determine the possibility of increased market penetration of renewable energy technology.
Francis Zammit Dimech said that this consultation paper is the first in a series of steps being undertaken by the Malta Resources Authority in the development and implementations of a strategy for the exploitations of renewable energy sources for electricity generation in Malta. The overall objectives of this initiative is the exploitation of efficient and clean energy technologies to meet energy needs, enhance the quality of the environment through a reduction in pollution emissions brought about by fossil-derived electricity production, and concurrently satisfy Maltas international obligations.
The Minister for Resources and Infrastructure said that it is envisaged that an appointed consultancy will carry out original, independent and the best possible analysis of relevant information, local situations and characteristics, on the basis of which, it will develop and recommend a detailed strategy and implementation programme, inclusive of targets of penetration, timeframes, milestones and benchmarks for the successful, structured and orderly introduction of renewable energy production and distribution in Malta.
Francis Zammit Dimech said that this consultation paper therefore outlines these general specific terms of reference for the appointed consultants to undertake a comprehensive and independent assessment of renewable energy exploitation in Malta. At the conclusion of this work, it is expected that the framework and a coherent blueprint for its structured introduction would be established.
Francis Zammit Dimech encouraged all interested parties, organizations and the general public to submit their comments to this consultation paper. He said we look forward towards active public participation in the process.