Malta submits EU funding bid for deep offshore wind farm

An international consortium, which includes the Maltese government, has recently submitted a proposal to the European Commission to be eligible for the funding of a €30 million research project dealing with deep offshore wind farms under the Seventh Framework Programme (FP7).

The other partners in this consortium include a mixture of commercial entities as well as government representatives from Scotland, Holland and Sweden. This particular proposal concentrates on offshore wind farm technology in waters over 60 metres deep, which is the case for the majority of the waters surrounding the Maltese Islands.

Minister for Resources and Rural Affairs George Pullicino made this announcement yesterday afternoon when replying to The Malta Independent about any important developments regarding the offshore wind farm project at Is-Sikka l-Bajda, limits of Mellie?a. Speaking at the recently inaugurated garden in Ba?ar iċ-Ċag?aq opposite the parish church, during the latest in the series of press conferences about the government’s track record in the past four years, Mr Pullicino said that progress has been made but more information was needed and the Environmental Impact Statement which is being compiled will be the key to issue an expression of interest. He added that according to the data available so far, the site has potential for low intensity wind turbines. Mr Pullicino explained that an important aspect of this €250 million investment, which is going to be funded entirely from the private sector, is the interconnector with Sicily. This will enable the offshore wind farm, which will generate 90 to 100 Megawatts (MW) of electricity, to be directly linked to the national power grid, as right now anything above 40 MW will destabilise the national power grid.

Minister Pullicino also revealed that in the coming days the government will announce the new feed-in tariffs for private users who generate their own electricity via photovoltaic cells with systems that can generate up to 1MW. Around 12,000 families so far have benefited from schemes intended to subsidise part of the capital investment needed for such systems. Meanwhile, the tendering process to have 70,000 m2 of photovoltaic cells to be installed on government-owned buildings is in its final stages.

Regarding the main achievements so far during this administration, Minister Pullicino referred to the €100 million allotted to aid farmers and fishermen to modernise their operations and hence increase their competitiveness during the past four years. Progress was also registered in the aquaculture sector with the launch of the national strategy while a €3 million investment in building a new fishery in Marsa is under way following Mepa’s approval. Mr Pullicino lauded also efforts to promote animal welfare.

In his speech, Minister Pullicino heaped praise for several embellishment projects around the island that transformed abandoned open spaces to family parks and others in the pipeline, such as the one close to the Sant’Antnin recycling plant in Marsascala. On this matter, he said that in 2011 there was a 5% increase in the amount of recycled waste collected from door to door while WasteServ exported 15,000 tons of waste such as plastic and paper to be recycled abroad. Regarding the rehabilitation process of the old Mag?tab landfill, he said that recent studies have revealed that the levels of dioxin in the area have decreased by 99% while landscaping works are now under way.

On the topic of clean energy, Minister Pullicino referred to several schemes launched recently to promote the domestic use of clean energy and for better energy efficiency such as double glazing and roof insulation.

In his speech, he also referred to oil exploration and announced that negotiations are ongoing with two interested parties.

Other ongoing major projects include the €36 million EU-funded restoration works of the bastions in Mdina, Valletta, Cittadella and Vittoriosa and several other restoration projects in Valletta including works on the facade of the Auberge de Castille.