Efficient use of energy prevalently generated from renewable sources is no longer an option but a necessity

During his intervention in the official opening of the Ninth Session of the Assembly of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) at Abu Dhabi, Minister for Energy and Water Management Joe Mizzi said that, more than ever, our climate agenda is fully focused on implementing the EU’s commitment of the 2015 Paris Agreement.

After the ratification of this international commitment we have seen a strong sense of engagement from EU Member States cementing the need to increase integration of renewable energy into the system, improve energy efficiency, whilst at the same time supporting research and innovation in low-carbon and clean energy technologies, he said.

In fact, he stated that the third State of the Energy Union report (which was published in February 2017) mentions that the EU is advancing towards both its 2020 and 2030 energy and climate targets,

saying that, if we manage to continue moving forward and constantly strive to adapt our energy strategies to today’s needs the global agreed targets will become achievable. However, at the same time, it is our belief that this can only be achieved if we have the flexibility of coming up with our own robust energy systems, which are tailor-made to the specificities of each country.

I firmly believe that the modernisation of our economies can go hand in hand with the climate agenda. An effective energy transition can be sustainable whereby fossil fuels are gradually replaced by a mix of renewable and other low-carbon sources. Of course, the chosen energy mix is very much country-specific and reflects access to indigenous resources, security of supply considerations, and cost implications.

He explained that in the case of our country we are supporting the development of cost-effective renewable energy sources but have also invested heavily to switch power generation from oil to natural gas. As such, this stepped approach will ensure that new, cost-effective technologies come on the market in time to meet emission reduction targets whilst sustaining growth and modernisation.

National energy strategies need to embrace the energy transformation which, as highlighted in this year’s IRENA annual report, is accelerating. This, however, needs significant investment in energy infrastructure, especially to accommodate an ever-increasing share of intermittent renewable sources.

In this context, Malta, together with all other EU Member States have agreed on an ambitious EU-wide targets, and have developed holistic national energy and climate plans for 2030 and low carbon development strategies which shall enable the EU to reconcile the climate agenda with the modernization of fossil based economies. This will also ensure that synergies between different sectors are fully developed and the overall goals are achieved in a cost-effective manner. The plans also place significant emphasis on international cooperation, which is critical if the desired level of decarbonisation is to be achieved within the target timeframes.

Decarbonisation requires significant overhaul of our energy systems. This, in turn, requires that both the necessary financing mechanisms are in place to leverage public funds as well as a robust regulatory framework to provide investor confidence. The IPCC special report on Global Warming finds that limiting global warming to 1.5C would require rapid and far-reaching transitions in land, energy, industry, buildings, transport, and cities.

We must therefore accelerate our cooperation and deliver on our commitments especially in upgrading our energy infrastructure to not only ensure the desired level of resilience but also to provide the required interconnection capacity to absorb an increasing level of intermittent renewable energy generation. The overhaul of the EU third energy package will also contribute towards establishing the necessary EU-wide legal and regulatory framework in support of a new market design which has energy efficiency and the deployment of renewable energy at its core, said Minister Mizzi.

Malta is already seeing how renewable energy sources have led to a shift from a centralized model to a distributed system and speaking of local energy communities who take advantage of new technologies to generate, store and share energy at the local level.

He said that we see an ever-increasing number of enterprises who opt to install renewable energy generators to satisfy part or all of their on-site energy needs. This democratisation of the energy system poses both infrastructural and regulatory challenges. Whilst the models adopted vary from one country to another, robust networks for energy carriers coupled with a forward-looking regulatory framework, receptive of technological advances, are a critical element of present and future solutions.

Minister Mizzi concluded that it is encouraging to see so much work and effort by all members which is effectively contributing towards economic growth, more jobs, better air quality and, in many cases, a better standard of living. A future which focuses on the efficient use of energy prevalently generated from renewable sources is no longer an option but a necessity. This is not just about the depletion of fossil fuel resources, but rather our commitment towards future generations and our obligation to leave them a better place to live in.

Source: Office of the Prime Minister