The National Renewable Energy Action Plan (NREAP) highlights the need to step up efforts on all fronts for Malta to achieve the 2020 target for a Renewable Energy Share (RES). OUTLOOK finds out more about this plan and how MEPA is contributing to facilitate the use of renewable technology.
Renewable energy plays a crucial role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other forms of pollution. Malta together with all other European Union member states have agreed on legally binding national targets for increasing the share of renewable energy, so as to achieve a 20 % share for the entire Union by 2020. Malta has on its part committed to a renewable energy share target of 10%.
Given this Malta has outlined an action plan that sets out the sectoral targets, the technology mix we expect to use, the trajectory we will follow and the measures and reforms the country will undertake to overcome the barriers to developing renewable energy.
In a recent seminar hosted by the Malta Resources Authority, who is the Competent Authority, for Renewable Energy, it was revealed that the 2010 estimated Gross Renewable Energy Share stands at just 0.86 per cent of National Gross Consumption. This is mostly due to the current amount of operational solar water heaters, and to a lesser extent to Photovoltaic installations and the use of bio-fuels. Malta also has a commitment to reduce CO2 emissions, with the result and that each kWh generated by renewable energy sources offsets approximately 0.9Kg of CO2, irrespective of the technology.
Malta’s main objective is therefore to incentivise and facilitate the renewable energy industry. Large wind farms, micro wind turbines, large solar farms and other smaller commercial initiatives are all potentially capable of absorbing a significant amount of our target output. However, it is agreed by all in the sector, that the one largely untapped source is the individual household Photovoltaic installation.
To date, this sector has been largely dependent on EU funded subsidy schemes. The downside to this is that of course whilst these funds are not unlimited, the market tends to be dependent on the availability of funding, and this therefore creates a largely fluctuating take-up of the available technology.
One of the major ways to ensure an effective increase in the use of our roof space for the generation of energy is to move away from a subsidy based system towards a stable self-sustaining investment incentive, which will mainly include a substantial increase in the Feed-in Tariffs.
MEPA’s role in all of this is mostly as a regulator in terms of planning policy. Household type PV installations and solar water heaters are regulated through the Development Notification Order (2007) which makes reference to detailed guidance within the DC 2007 Policy and Design Guidance. In addition to this, MEPA is currently taking a pro-active role through its participation in the Regions for Sustainable Change EU funded partnership. Part of MEPA’s role in this project will be the production of a feasibility study exploring the potential of utilizing the roof space of agricultural buildings for the installation of PV panels.
Last year the Authority also approved new planning guidance for Micro Wind Turbines with a generating capacity of up to 20kW. The aim of these guidelines is to provide prospective applicants with guidance on the potentially acceptable locations, size, efficiency and feasibility aspects of such turbines. They also serve as additional guidance to MEPA in determining development applications.