The Malta Environment and Planning Authority (Mepa) Board, this afternoon, approved a 9-month long IPPC permit which will enable the new Delimara Power Station extension to operate on heavy fuel oil (HFO) and gasoil.
The new plant will start a testing and commissioning phase in the coming weeks and will start full operations as of May 2012.
A representative of EPD informed the Board that while diesel gives better environmental results overall, with the abatement equipment at the new extension, the forecasted emission limit values using heavy fuel oil will remain in line with EU legislation.
The Board agreed to adopt a precautionary approach and stipulated that following a period of ambient air monitoring, the performance of the plant will be reviewed by no later than September 2012. The Board will then decide whether heavy fuel oil can continue to be used or not.
The Board requested that a special monitoring committee will be responsible for the collection of the ambient air monitoring data and their analysis in 2012. The committee will be chaired by the Director for Environment Protection and will include a representative of the local community and a representative of EneMalta. They in turn will appoint an independent expert as a consultant.
During the public meeting, KPMG consultants representing EneMalta argued that following a Cost Impact Analysis, a change from heavy fuel oil to diesel would induce an increase in costs of approximately €20 million for the eight-month period between May (when the extension will begin operating) and December 2012.
The Analysis estimates that if the Extension is operated on diesel for this period, the target variable revenue to be recovered through consumption charges underlying the current tariff for this period would need to be increased by 10%.
While the permit also includes a land route for the transport of waste generated by the Extension, the Mepa Board obliged EneMalta to carry out a study on the infrastructural requirements, feasibility and environmental risks of the marine transport of this waste. Depending on the outcome of the study, to be submitted by March 2012, marine transport of waste may be required. Additionally, EneMalta have been requested to submit a contract for the collection, transportation and export of waste.
By December 2012, Enemalta is being required to submit a feasibility study regarding the conversion of the Delimara Power Station to various gas fuel options.
During the public meeting, the local councils of Maraxlokk, Zejtun and Birzebbuga, through a number of consultants, jointly carried out a detailed presentation to the Board highlighting their concerns and the reasons as to why gasoil should be used instead of HFO to operate the new extension.