The Energy Ministry has played down concerns by PN councillor and engineer Mark Anthony Sammut that Malta is close to an energy crisis, claiming his comments betray the Nationalist Party’s “addiction” to Heavy Fuel Oil.
Sammut recently criticised the government for closing and dismantling the Delimara 1 power station, stating that the plant, which could be powered by both HFO and diesel, could have provided another 120MW of electricity in moments of crises like the one we are experiencing now.
“Just because it was built by previous administrations, this government decided to dismantle it completely before the operation of the new LNG plant had stabilized, leading to the crisis we are experiencing now,” Sammut said.
The Energy Ministry denied that the Delimara power station was closed because of partisan animosity, but because the EU’s emissions limits would have required a large-scale and very expensive retrofit of the plant which did not make economic or practical sense, seeing that the plant was commissioned in 1992 and much of its infrastructure had become old and much of its instrumentation and control systems had become obsolete”
It said Sammut’s remarks confirm that the PN’s energy policy was to retain the HFO plant at Delimara available for an indefinite period.
“Before 2013, Enemalta had a nominally 200MW heavy fuel oil fired, smoke belching, forty-year-old power plant at Marsa, and a 153MW BWSC plant also fired with heavy fuel oil and encumbered with an unreliable and costly emissions abatement system,” it said.
“Had Labour listened to the PN’s suggestions, Malta would at the moment be experiencing a crisis way beyond the one that Eng. Sammut is imagining”.
The ministry also contradicted Sammut’s statement that the Delimara 1 plant could be powered on diesel, adding that this was not the case and that “the PN’s affinity to HFO is inexplicable”.
“The PN’s energy policy relied on the 150MW from the BWSC plant and another 200MW from the Interconnector to a total of 350MW. It is a known fact that Malta’s demand exceeds 350MW for more than a thousand hours on an annual basis. Even if we were to assume that the BWSC plant and the Interconnector were available all the time, then the PN would have run the Delimara 1 plant on HFO on a regular basis and not only ‘in moments of crisis’ as implied by Eng. Sammut”.
With the interconnector out of action for several weeks after sustaining damage near Sicily, Enemalta currently has a total 553MW capacity available for dispatch, well above the winter peak load of 446MW registered during January of last year.
“The power-cuts that occurred after the 23 December happened because of individual turbine trips, and not because Enemalta has insufficient generation capacity to meet demand,” the ministry said. “The fact that electricity supply was restored within a very short time, is testament that Enemalta has enough generation capacity.”