Security of Supply

A secure energy supply is crucial. Should Malta ever lose a core piece of power generation infrastructure (for example, its subsea interconnector with Italy), the system needs to be resilient enough to still deliver electricity to every home and business that requires it.

For this reason, the Maltese Government, through Enemalta, carries out risk assessments to better understand the resilience of the current power system and the potential impact of unforeseen faults.

Malta’s growing population, workforce and tourism are expected to continue driving energy demand even higher in the coming years. Because of this, Malta’s electricity system needs to be sufficiently resilient to ensure an appropriate level of electricity supply.  The need to meet the projected growth in electricity demand prompted the Government’s investment into a second electricity interconnector with Italy, which is planned to be installed by 2026.

Another large part of our work at the Energy & Water Agency is to continue diversifying the energy sources and suppliers we use. Malta’s dedication to becoming climate-neutral by 2050 calls for new and innovative solutions, tailored to the challenges of being an island only partially connected to trans-European energy networks (by electricity only, but currently not connected to the European gas network).

Malta’s security of supply can be achieved by addressing the following main objectives, which are detailed in the NECP:

Continued diversification of energy sources and suppliers

Reduction of import dependency through use of renewable energy sources

Regular contingency planning in case of supply disruption for electricity, gas and oil

Decarbonising Malta’s energy system

Malta’s security of supply can be achieved by addressing the following main objectives, which are detailed in the NECP:

Continued diversification of energy sources and suppliers

Reduction of import dependency through use of renewable energy sources

Regular contingency planning in case of supply disruption for electricity, gas and oil

Decarbonising Malta’s energy system

Malta’s Local Power Generation Sector

In the past 10 years, Malta has overhauled its power sector. Inefficient thermal electricity production infrastructure has been upgraded and liquefied natural gas (LNG) fuel has replaced heavy fuel oil for power generation.

Key milestones of this reform include:

  • Malta’s closedown of the Marsa Power Station, which operated on heavy fuel oil.
  • Completion of the subsea connection with the European grid through Sicily.
  • Commissioning of a new gas-fired, high-efficiency gas turbine power plant, known as Delimara 4, as well as a liquefied natural gas terminal (with a view to replace this with a permanent gas pipeline to Sicily).
  • The conversion of Delimara 3, a power plant with eight diesel engines, to run on natural gas instead of heavy fuel oil.

 

1995

In April 1995 Enemalta phased out coal as fuel for its generation plants. This significantly reduced CO2 emissions. 

2005

In 2005 the Government committed Enemalta to give priority to renewable energy sources and to purchase energy generated on the Maltese Islands.

2014

Enemalta plc. is established to take over the electricity generation and distribution infrastructure and operations previously administered by Enemalta Corporation. The Corporation’s Petroleum Division becomes Enemed Co. Ltd. 

2015

The Malta-Sicily AC electricity interconnector is commissioned and put into operation, thus connecting Malta’s electricity grid with that of the trans-European electricity network. 

The Marsa Power Station is put on cold stand-by, pending final decommissioning. 

2017

The new gas-fired power plant (Delimara 4), including the gas facilities, and the existing power plant converted to run on gas (Delimara 3) are commissioned and start generating electricity.

Marsa Power Station is completely disconnected from the national grid.

The last power plant operated on heavy-fuel oil, Delimara 1, is shut down for eventual decommissioning.  

2020

Malta submits its first National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP) which sets out its strategy for energy and climate for the next 10 years. 

Malta commmits to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. 

2021

Ministry for Energy and Sustainable Development (MESD) announces plan to invest in a second electricity interconnector between Malta and Sicily. 

Elements of Malta’s power generation sector

Several independently owned photovoltaic (solar) installations support local power generation. The overall connection capacity of these installations at the end of 2021 was 205 MWp, with the largest photovoltaic installation in Malta having a capacity of 5.4 MWp.

Developments in the power generation sector have resulted in significant energy savings and substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, investments in the power generation sector have increased the plants’ overall conversion efficiency from 25–30% to around 50%.

To ensure security of supply in case of an emergency, Malta maintains a reserve emergency plant comprising four gasoil-fired engines located at Delimara Power Station. The emergency facilities also include a single power plant located at the now largely decommissioned Marsa Power Station. 

Electricity Interconnectivity

To achieve the EU’s climate and energy goals, EU member states must improve cross-border electricity interconnections. In case of emergencies that trigger electricity supply disruptions, EU countries need to be able to rely on their neighbours to support their electricity supply. What’s more, interconnectivity also boosts the security of the EU-wide electricity supply and enables the integration of more renewables into the wider energy system.

Since 2015, Malta’s electricity grid has been linked to the trans-European network via the Malta-Italy subsea interconnector, which has enhanced the robustness of Malta’s electricity system and strengthened our security of supply.

What is ‘electricity interconnectivity’?

Electricity interconnectivity refers to power which canbe transmitted through electricity cables connected to neighbouring countries as a portion of the total generation capacity of local power facilities.

The EU electricity interconnectivity target requires each EU country to have electricity cables that allow at least 15% of the electricity produced by local power plants to be transported across borders. As shown in the graph, Malta is currently exceeding the EU’s 2020 and 2030 targets with an electricity interconnection level of 26%. It is estimated that the investment into a second interconnector in 2026 would increase Malta’s interconnectivity level to 47%.

 

Grid Stability

To ensure electricity grid stability while increasing Malta’s use of renewable energy sources, the Energy & 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 more than 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 & 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 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.

 

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 imports of energy sources.

The Energy & 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

Malta’s electricity generation and supply depend on the security of its gas supply. Should our gas supply be disrupted, electricity generation will be impacted.

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 & Water Agency was tasked with developing these plans for Malta and has submitted all three to the European Commission. The Plans are available as follows:

Below is the process followed:

National Risk Assessment

Preventive Action Plan

Emergency 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.

National Risk Assessment

    • Assessment of all relevant risks affecting the security of Malta’s gas supply.
    • Analysis of our energy infrastructure.

Emergency Plan

    • 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.

Preventive Action Plan

    • Identification of measures needed to remove and mitigate the risks identified which could lead to a gas (and subsequently electricity) supply disruption.

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 & Water Agency is assisting the Ministry and Enemalta 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.

Establishing a list of designated sites

    • Identification of sites that depend on continuous electricity and their protection from supply disruption.

Identification of vulnerable electricity customers

    • Identification and protection of vulnerable electricity customers, i.e. consumers for whom continued energy supply is critical to their wellbeing.

Formalising a rota disconnection process

    • Formalising a Rota Disconnection Plan to ensure supplies of electricity are shared as equitably as possible between areas.

In the afore-mentioned plans we have also determined that the risk of electricity supply disruption can be mitigated by:

  1. Maximising our use of the electricity interconnector with Sicily.
  2. Maximising other forms of on-island (gasoil-fired) energy generation.
  3. Reducing electricity demand.
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