Maltese church - Photo credit, Efraimstochter & Free Images - Pixabay
Welcome to the thirtieth edition of my weekly blog where I take a closer look at the policies adopted by individual countries in their efforts to meet the requirements of the Paris Agreement. Particular attention is paid to the role that Carbon Capture, Utilisation, and Storage (CCUS) research and technologies are playing in the drive to meet these requirements.
Having examined how the conversion of carbon into liquid fuels can reduce CO2 emissions last week, I’m returning to my country-by-country analysis and this week I’m focusing on the Mediterranean Island nation of Malta.
Malta ranks ninth highest under Yale University’s Environmental Performance Index (EPI) and this is the first time that the country has placed in the top 10 since the index’s inception in January 2006. Looking at some of the index sub-categories, Malta ranks first overall for ‘water and sanitation’ and sixth for ‘fisheries’. Malta’s lowest subcategory ranking is for ‘agriculture’ where it placed 141st overall due to inefficient nitrogen use.
Paris Agreement Targets
As part of the “EU Climate and Energy Package Effort Sharing targets for 2013 – 2020”, Malta has agreed to keep CO2 emissions increases within 5% above 2005 levels by 2020. Malta was also one of the first countries in the world to sign the Paris Agreement in 2016.
According to 2015 Eurostat statistics for ‘electricity generated from renewable sources as a % of gross electricity consumption’, Malta ranks lowest in the EU with just 4.2% of their electricity consumption coming from renewables. This was well below the EU-28 average of 28.8%. Although 4.2% is an extremely low figure in proportionate terms, in absolute terms, Malta has made good progress in a short space of time with generation from renewables increasing from 25,609 megawatt-hours in 2012 to 103,540 megawatt-hours in 2015.
In 2015, CO2 emissions from power plants fell by also 50% compared with 2014. The reason for this large reduction was due to the fact that 50% of electricity consumed in Malta in 2015 was imported via an interconnector from Italy for the first time. This was a positive step as Malta’s power plants were ranked among the dirtiest in the world with the worst air quality according to research by Yale in 2015.
Carbon Capture Utilisation and Storage (CCUS)
From a CCUS viewpoint, in 2013, a Norwegian CCS company called Sargas claimed that Malta could capture up to 85% of its CO2 emissions using GE gas turbines along with their CCS technology. Sargas’ plans included constructing a gas-fired power plant where the captured carbon would be converted to potash and then sold to concrete companies at EUR 40 – 60 per tonne. A KPMG report commissioned by the Ministry of Finance at the time could not verify this market rate for the by-product.
Malta has been slow to embrace renewable energy as a source of electricity generation and is only producing energy from this source in earnest since 2012. At that time, Maltese power plants were among the dirtiest in the world from an air quality point of view. CCUS was investigated as a potential solution to this problem, however the Malta-Sicily interconnector, in operation since early 2015, now supplies roughly 50% of electricity consumed in Malta.
As Malta gradually increases its electricity generation from domestic renewables, it can import electricity from the Italian market as a substitute for its carbon-intensive power plants. The interconnector can also help reduce the overall cost of energy to the Maltese economy which is strategically important towards enabling economic growth.
Next week’s blog will profile France and their efforts to meet their CO2 emissions reduction targets.
If you liked this article you might enjoy reading some recent articles in the series:
Week 29 Liquid Fuels: converting waste into energy.
Week 28 Estonia: how restoring bogs is helping reduce emissions.
Week 27 Portugal: how Portugal will become carbon neutral by 2050.