To ensure electricity grid stability while increasing Malta’s use of renewable energy sources, the Energy and Water Agency has identified the need for both the grid operator, Enemalta, and owners of home power generators (such as solar panels) to invest in supporting infrastructure.
On a sunny day when electricity demand is not very high, the electricity generated by solar panels may make up 50% of the total energy required by households and businesses.
However, on cloudy days, there will be a greater reliance on Malta’s relatively small electricity grid. Add to this a surge of demand during periods of high cloud cover and it becomes clear that dependence on solar power alone is unwise.
At the Energy and Water Agency, we are researching a range of supporting technologies to avoid instances where Enemalta would have to cater for the unforeseen loss of more than half of the country’s energy generation capacity at certain hours. That is why, together, the Maltese Government and Enemalta are looking into battery storage solutions as a potential energy source to sure-up the grid – because grid instability is presently one of the biggest barriers limiting Malta’s renewable energy potential beyond 2020.
The graph below shows the projected minimum electricity used on Sundays (the day with the lowest hourly electricity peaks) and the amount of supporting photovoltaic (solar) power generated at these times in megawatts.
Malta’s Dependency on Energy Imports
As an island with limited energy sources, Malta currently imports all its conventional energy sources. From natural gas to produce electricity to fuels used in road transport, aviation, heating and cooling, Malta relies heavily on the energy sources of other countries.
The Energy and Water Agency aims to reduce Malta’s dependency on imported energy by using our indigenous renewable energy sources to their full potential.
Here is the range of imported energy sources Malta currently uses:
Preventing Energy Crisis
For this reason, a risk assessment, Preventive Action Plan and Emergency Plan are required by each EU member state to ensure the security of each country’s gas supply (as per EU Regulation 2017/1938, the Gas Security of Supply Regulation). The Energy and Water Agency was tasked with developing these plans for Malta and has submitted all three to the European Commission.
Below is the process followed:
National Risk Assessment
Preventive Action Plan
- Assessment of all relevant risks affecting the security of Malta’s gas supply.
- Analysis of our energy infrastructure.
- Identification of measures needed to remove and mitigate the risks identified which could lead to a gas (and subsequently electricity) supply disruption.
- Identification of measures to be taken to remove or mitigate the impact of a disruption of gas supply.
- Identification of a Crisis Manager and the roles and responsibilities of national entities during a gas crisis.
EU member states must also identify national electricity crisis scenarios and develop a Risk Preparedness Plan (as per the Electricity Risk Preparedness Regulation). The plan must identify preventive and emergency measures and state the responsibilities of national entities in the event of an electricity crisis.
In the case of exceptional events that disrupt electricity supply, sites that provide essential services, such as critical health facilities, must maintain a continuous electricity supply. To this end, the Energy and Water Agency is assisting the Ministry for Energy and Sustainable Development (MESD) with the implementation of the following actions:
Establishing a list of designated sites
Identification of vulnerable electricity customers
Formalising a rota disconnection process
- Identification of sites that depend on continuous electricity and their protection from supply disruption.
- Identification and protection of vulnerable electricity customers, i.e. consumers for whom continued energy supply is critical to their wellbeing.
- Formalising a Rota Disconnection Plan to ensure supplies of electricity are shared as equitably as possible between areas.
We have also determined that the risk of electricity supply disruption can be mitigated by:
- Maximising our use of the electricity interconnector with Sicily.
- Maximising other forms of on-island (gasoil-fired) energy generation.
- Reducing electricity demand.