News | Sunday, 17 May 2009
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Thumbs down to wind farm at Sikka l-Bajda - report

Government’s own feasibility study says Sikka wind farm would be too expensive

A feasibility study by British experts Mott Macdonald concludes that energy produced by the Sikka l-Bajda wind farm will only be viable if sold at a high price.
Tipped as the Prime Minister’s first choice, two new land-based sites were added to the Sikka l-Bajda option, namely Hal-Far and Bahrija in the new study.
Despite calls for the study to be publicised by the government, it can be found on the website of the Ministry for Resources and Rural Affairs, together with various other reports on renewable energy.
Experts Mott Macdonald concluded that wind speeds at Sikka l-Bajda are low compared to those experienced at offshore wind farms in Northern Europe, and the cost of building and operating the farm were too high for an offshore wind farm.
“Therefore,” the report argues, “a sizeable tariff would be necessary to make a wind farm in this region financially viable.”
As an offshore farm, the Sikka l-Bajda option would require either 17 giant 5-megawatt turbines with 126-metre diameter rotors; or 29 smaller 3-megawatt turbines.
But the proximity of the wind farm to key breeding sites for several species of birds that do not breed anywhere else in Malta, means it the potential impact on bird migration and mortality must be assessed.
The report however notes that Malta has “very good potential” for photovoltaic (solar) devices, but the costs and current legislation limits this potential for this source of energy.
Malta has 28% of its household rooftops available for PV energy, according to the report, which recommends that Malta focuses on industrial and commercial rooftops which cover 70% of the potential PV area in Malta.
The experts say that wind energy would still be more feasible than solar energy.
Interestingly, the experts say purchasing ‘green electricity’ from Europe via an underwater cable to Sicily would not only help Malta meet its renewable energy targets, but also improve security of supply.
But the report notes that the most financially viable option would be that of doing nothing and paying the price by buying ‘renewable energy credits’ from other member states who abide by their renewable energy targets.
“The final option is for Malta investing in a renewable energy project within Europe and then taking a share of renewable energy credits from the project, via the Joint Projects mechanism.”


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