How is Malta gearing up for the EU's Green Deal?

Considering our highly mobilized community, the advent of a booming tourism industry and our 100% dependency on fossil fuels, it is time that stakeholders wake up and seriously start educating themselves on wind and solar energy with the eventual generation of green hydrogen


The European Union’s Green Deal is a transformative agenda to combine policies necessary to tackle climate change, to reverse biodiversity loss, and eliminate pollution by moving to a circular economy. But is Malta following in line to welcome and embrace the Green Deal?  This article explains what is required of us in the next decade to follow and upgrade our green ecology and mobility infrastructure.

Malta is one of the 27 EU Member States which committed to turn the EU into the first climate neutral continent by 2050. To get there, we pledged to reduce emissions by at least 55% by 2030, compared to 1990 levels. One expects that smaller countries will find it more of a challenge to set the course for such a healthy revolution, since they do not enjoy economies of scale, one expects them to miss deadlines.  Only thus, can we claim to reach a different destiny: a more inclusive, greener, and overall stronger society.

The ultimate priority for the EU is to develop a supply of renewable hydrogen. How can industrial quantities of renewable hydrogen be obtained? The straight answer is via electrolysis using renewable electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen is collected and used primarily in industry (in case of Malta to run power stations), while oxygen is released as the by-product or captured for use by others.

The government issued a PMC last May to encourage investors to submit detailed cost estimates on the necessary equipment needed to start a renewable energy supply from wind and solar preferably located in offshore waters within the EEZ (exclusive economic zone).  One lauds the finance ministry for issuing this PMC and augurs that in the near future a comprehensive tender is issued calling for submission of detailed technical offers to generate Green Hydrogen.  One remarks positively about this ambitious project so that Malta can honour its international commitments towards de-carbonization.

Ideally, preferred bidder/s aim to use the vast area available in shallow waters earmarked in the EEZ which is roughly over one thousand square kilometres. Malta like other EU countries is poised at the start of an exciting journey towards a hydrogen-based industry. Any surplus green energy can be transferred on the European gas commodity market via a subsea gas pipe.

Readers may ask what is the use of green hydrogen apart from electricity and driving cars/trucks using fuel cells. In fact, many local industries may attract enhanced export orders when switching to hydrogen in their production processes. The list includes plants that produce fertilizers, chemicals, glass, and many other products. Currently these industries use hydrogen made the traditional way from fossil fuels, releasing large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

However, if they replaced hydrogen from fossil fuels with renewable hydrogen, they would greatly reduce their impact on the planet. It is not rocket science and a number of EU countries have successfully achieved this milestone. These are seeing demand for commercial to increase, and in the short term will reduce prices compared to LNG and natural gas.

In addition, harmonised rules on gas quality are being proposed, allowing for the blending hydrogen with ammonia and/or methane. Considering that Malta started late to introduce electric cars (registrations are increasing daily as generous subsidies are being offering by Transport Malta for first time buyers) yet we are far away from claiming the trophy for 80% electric cars on the road (currently held by Norway).

The Commission seeks member state to ensure that citizens have the infrastructure they need to charge these electric vehicles both for short and long journeys. In addition, Malta needs to hasten preparations to upgrade inland mobility since from 2026, road transport will be covered by emissions trading, putting a price on pollution, stimulating cleaner fuel use, and re-investing in clean technologies.

The Commission is also proposing carbon pricing for the aviation sector, which benefited from an exception until now. It is also proposing to promote sustainable aviation fuels – with an obligation for planes to run on sustainable blended fuels for all departures from EU airports. This can mean that aviation fuel used by aircraft carrying home an expected three million tourists this year, will see visitors face higher travel costs. The storage potential of hydrogen is particularly beneficial for power grids, as it allows for renewable energy to be kept not only in large quantities but also for long periods of time.

Looking back, the EU strategy on hydrogen was adopted in 2020 and suggested policy action points in 5 areas: investment support; support production and demand; creating a hydrogen market and infrastructure; research and cooperation and international cooperation. Renewable hydrogen will also provide a vital function to support wider system integration, delivering the flexibility required to meet the needs of a transitioning energy system.

Many predict that renewable hydrogen will in the near future rapidly reduce in cost. With continuing support for its development, it can become low-cost, widely-available, and a key part of the green energy system. As can be expected, rrenewable hydrogen can also be used to de-carbonise shipping and aviation.

Green hydrogen can be combined with carbon dioxide from industrial processes that would otherwise be released into the atmosphere or from direct air capture to create synthetic fuels or ‘e-fuels’ which are used instead of fossil fuels. Stakeholders who want to know more about this exciting subject of Green Fuel may wish to reserve a place at a PKF conference hosted at the Hilton with collaboration of Times of Malta.

This packs technical presentations from 16 experts both local and foreign on environment and starting a path towards green energy. We are pleased to note that the event will be opened by the Miriam Dalli - minister for energy and sustainable development - delivering a keynote speech on this exciting subject. Mark your calendar to be among delegates at the Hilton Malta on 12th April 2023 between 9am and 2 pm.

It is an event not to be missed and will be followed by a networking lunch and drinks. This is a revolutionary theme which if taken at the flood will lead to fortune. There is no doubt that something big must be done to fight climate change.

Considering our highly mobilized community, the advent of a booming tourism industry and our 100% dependency on fossil fuels, it is time that stakeholders wake up and seriously start educating themselves on wind and solar energy with the eventual generation of green hydrogen.

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