Malta has agreed to pay Estonia a reported €2 million in return for renewable energy quotas that will help the island reach its EU-imposed targets.
Energy Minister Michael Farrugia signed the deal with Estonia’s Economy Minister Taavi Aas yesterday, with Farrugia stating that this was done because Malta was unable to produce enough renewable energy on its own soil in time for this year’s deadline.
The €2 million price-tag wasn’t revealed by the Maltese government but was published by the Estonian press.
“The year on year increase in energy consumption, mainly driven by an increase in population and exceptional economic growth, as well as unforeseen delays in the development of large scale PV projects, has prompted the government to consider complimenting local investment in the renewable energy sector by a cooperation mechanism with another member state,” Farrugia said.
Back in 2010, the EU set targets for its member states to ensure that 20% of the union’s total energy production was met through renewable sources by 2020. Malta’s target was for 10% of its energy production to be achieved through renewables by 2020, but recently published statistics show the island fell two point shy as of 2018. This percentage is since forecast to have risen to around 9.4%.
As a result, it has decided to utilise a clause which allows member states to achieve their targets by purchasing renewable energy quotas from other member states which have exceeded their own targets. Luxembourg has also gone down this route, purchasing renewable energy quotas from Estonia and Lithuania.
Farrugia described this deal as a win-win situation for both Malta and Estonia and a sign of Malta’s commitment towards reaching its targets.
“This is a mutually beneficial agreement whereby we feel that bilateral relations between the two member states have been strengthened and we look further to future cooperation between the two countries,” he said.
“Nonetheless, the government is committed to continue to support investment in indigenous renewable energy sources, taking advantage of developments in technology and cost reductions. This will contribute towards a greener energy mix and better environment”.
Paula Abreu Marques, the Head of Unit for “Renewables and CCS policy” in the European Commission, praised Malta and Estonia for this deal.
“Regional cooperation is an essential step to increase our ambition on renewable energy, to increase shares in a cost effective way and be able to help Europe reach a carbon neutral economy by 2050,” she said. “It will being jobs, growth and good health in Europe.”
However, the Nationalist Party described the deal as one which will see taxpayers fork our money for the government’s failure to reach its renewable energy targets.
“The Maltese people are paying the Estonians for the incompetence of the Labour government,” PN deputy leader and energy spokesperson David Agius said. “This is truly ironic when one considers that Malta has many more sunny hours and days than Estonia and it is scandalous that Malta hasn’t reached its targets while Estonia has superseded them.”
Agius said this is the latest in a long list of failures by the government in the energy sector and goes to show that Labour’s only plan for the energy sector was the “monument of corruption” in Marsaxlokk Bay, a reference to the tanker supplying LNG to the nearby power station.
He also referred to a NAO report into the power station, the “barefaced robbery” in the calculation of water and electricity bills and the recent power cuts following damage dealt to the Malta-Sicily interconnector.