News | Sunday, 22 November 2009

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Sicily cable ‘essential’ to close down Marsa power station

The government will only be able to close down the Marsa Power Station after the completion of the energy cable which will link Malta with Sicily, an environmental impact study on the new Delimara power station extension reveals.
In the absence of the energy cable, by 2015 Malta will be 111 megawatts short of its projected 550MW demand.
The study shows that while the Marsa power station is presently generating 230MW, the new Delimara extension will only produce 144MW, leaving the country with a combined power generation of 439MW and a massive shortfall.
The electrical link to the Sicilian grid is expected to be completed by the end of 2012. If the deadline for the completion of the cable is respected, the government will be able to honour its EU commitment to close down Marsa.
But according to the study, work on the grid can only start after parliamentary and regulatory approval in both Italy and Malta.
The study considers the cable link and the new power station as “essential and complimentary” for a secure supply of energy after the Marsa power station is closed, and goes on to state that it will be impossible to cater for the energy shortfall caused by the decommissioning of the Marsa station.
Malta has been granted €20 million in EU funds for the Malta-Sicily grid after EU ministers approved a €4 billion energy package, derived from the unspent portion of the EU budget.
In March, the Enemalta professionals’ union expressed strong reservations on the submarine cable connecting Sicily and Malta: “Given the scenario of a cable fault occurring when 200MW are being supplied, the electricity network in Malta will surely collapse and plunge the whole nation in darkness with very serious consequences for the whole business community on the island.”
To avoid such a risk, Enemalta is studying the possibility of installing two cables capable of delivering 200MW each and set one kilometre apart to ensure that if one cable sustains damage, the other cable will be able to supply the necessary load.
The inclusion of a second cable would mean Malta will spend €300 million, according to the contract notice that was submitted.

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