On 5th December, the Mepa Board will discuss Enemalta’s application for a variation of the IPPC permit that will enable the operation of the new Extension to the Delimara power station. OUTLOOK takes a look at the challenges the Environment Protection Directorate faced when drafting these permit conditions.
This draft IPPC permit follows an extensive public consultation process, whereby the Environment Protection Directorate (EPD) within MEPA reviewed the representations made by the local councils of the area and the public, together with further submissions made by Enemalta.
The Extension which will provide around 24% of total energy production in Malta and partly replace the Marsa power station requires IPPC permit conditions that will where possible prevent or reduce emissions.
This has been a challenging task. Apart from the environmental issues, this application has also involved the consideration of complex social and economic matters.
The main points raised during the consultation process relate to air quality and the choice of fuel. The new plant can be operated using both heavy fuel oil and gasoil (diesel), without any physical modifications being required.
While diesel gives better environmental results overall, the emission limit values proposed in the draft conditions are expected to be respected by both diesel and heavy fuel oil with the proposed abatement equipment at the Extension. These emission limits are in line with EU legislation.
In order to adopt a precautionary approach, the draft conditions require constant ambient air monitoring if heavy fuel oil is to be used. The performance of the plant and its impact on ambient air quality will be reviewed by no later than September 2012 to determine whether the predictions made are correct and heavy fuel oil can continue to be used or not.
The draft permit conditions require that further data will be collected, starting in 2012, through ambient air monitoring. A monitoring committee will be set up, which is proposed to include a representative of the local community and a representative of Enemalta, and appoint an independent expert as consultant to assess ambient air monitoring data.
Air monitoring data shall be supplied to the consultant every two weeks, and the consultant shall submit a report to the committee on a monthly basis. Copies of the monthly reports shall be made available to the public.
Enemalta shall also make emission data (hourly, daily, diurnal and monthly average values) from the plant publicly available via the internet not later than 24 hours after the production of such data.
The draft conditions also require two updates to the dispersion modelling study to be carried out, using the data from the plant’s air emissions monitoring systems and ambient air monitoring data from Zejtun, Birzebbuga and Marsaxlokk.
When considering IPPC applications, Mepa must ensure that environmental quality standards are adhered to, through the application of Best Available Techniques not entailing excessive cost.
Apart from the Cost Benefit Analysis already submitted as part of the application, in response to the representations from the public, Enemalta has provided further information on the cost of operating the Extension on diesel, and the impact that this would have on current electricity costs.
A Cost Impact Analysis conducted by KPMG indicates that 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 would 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%.
Regarding the transport of waste generated by the Extension, Enemalta has proposed a land route. However Enemalta is being obliged 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.
Enemalta will also be required to ensure that no development or operation of the plant would impede further development for the use of natural gas, both supplied through a pipeline or in liquid form, as a major fuel for electricity generation.
The draft permit conditions and related documents are available for viewing on www.mepa.org.mt/ippc-applications-consultation.