A gas pipeline to Malta? We should invest in the energy of the future, not of the past!

Friends of the Earth Malta recently launched a short animated video about the proposed Melita gas pipeline, to highlight concerns over continued investment in fossil fuels and to propose that public money should instead be invested in renewables, energy savings and community energy.  

Watch the video here: 

The video was launched during a public event at our Green Resource Centre in Floriana, with invited panellists Prof. Luciano Mule-Stagno (Institute for Sustainable Energy, UM), Dr Marie Briguglio (economist) and Matthew Caruana Galizia (Daphne Foundation) discussing different aspects of the proposed pipeline with the organisers and members of the public. 

During the event, Dr Suzanne Maas, climate campaign coordinator at Friends of the Earth Malta, presented the demands that we put forward to the Maltese government, which include an immediate halt on new infrastructure for fossil fuels and an assessment of the baseline renewable energy production needed to cover Malta’s essential electricity needs. To make a fossil free Malta a reality, Friends of the Earth Malta pushes for investment in energy savings and efficiency and in renewables – both locally and abroad. Malta urgently needs an enabling framework for community energy, to promote the transition to a democratic and decentralised renewable energy system, in line with the new EU Renewable Energy Directive.

You can support Friends of the Earth Malta by sending a postcard to the Minister to ask for a #fossilfree Malta! 

Read the full demands and send a postcard to the Minister here

Following the video launch, the invited panel discussed the issues with the proposed gas pipeline: its incompatibility with the strong and swift climate action required to halt runaway climate change, concerns over energy security and a need to be able to withstand shocks on the global energy market by increasing our energy self-sufficiency, and the links of a new gas pipeline with the Electrogas power station, a project which has been the subject of multiple investigations around corruption and the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. 

Prof Luciano Mule-Stagno, from the University of Malta’s Institute for Sustainable Energy shared his expertise on different renewable energy technologies and their applicability in the Maltese context. Research on off-shore renewable energy sources is showing how floating wind could soon become a reality, it is already technically feasible and the costs are ever decreasing. He added that floating solar is another potential future solution, with a slightly longer timeline before it will be a mature technology, but also that today there is still untapped potential for urban rooftop photovoltaics. There are however also challenges that need to be resolved, particularly around the intermittency of renewable energy and storage of energy to ensure availability around the clock, as well as concerns over solar rights for rooftop PV and reduced efficiency due to dust and high heat. 

Dr Marie Briguglio, economist and fellow lecturer at the University of Malta, reminded us all of the simple logic of supply and demand curves. The demand for energy is not a given; we need to ensure that policies send the right price signals, to avoid energy wastage and over-consumption. Discussing the example of transport, the government is basing its projected demand on a shift to electrification of transport, completely surpassing much more efficient policy options to reduce demand, by focusing on a modal shift to less energy intensive modes of transport, such as public transport and active transport such as walking and cycling. She also stressed the opportunity cost of the proposed Melita gas pipeline; the estimated 400€ million investment could be spent much more wisely in light of the accelerating climate crisis; in clean energy sources and energy efficiency. 

Matthew Caruana Galizia, director of the Daphne Foundation which was set up to honour and continue the work of his mother, journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, brought a different angle to the discussion, focusing on the connections between large scale energy projects and corruption. He said that the Melita gas pipeline was not an afterthought but instead was baked into the Electrogas project and gas deals made to supply the power station. The shareholders of the Electrogas project stand to benefit from a gas exit price from the Maltese government, to compensate for the assets the energy company would hand over once the pipeline is built. 

“The bottom line is that we cannot continue investing in fossil fuels”, concluded Friends of the Earth Malta’s Climate Campaign Coordinator Suzanne Maas at the end of the heated debate around Malta’s energy future. “Public money should be invested in the energy of the future, not of the past. There is no time to waste; for reasons of climate change and energy security, Malta should instead focus on local renewable energy, importing green electricity and improving energy efficiency.”

To find out more about the new Friends of the Earth Malta Climate Campaign, visit www.foemalta.org/climate