‘Renewable energy mix may have to be changed’

Studies are still being made to assess the viability of offshore wind farms.

Studies are still being made to assess the viability of offshore wind farms.

A Labour government will stick to EU targets on renewable energy but it may have to change the mix of energy sources, according to Labour environment spokesman Leo Brincat.

Addressing a press conference yesterday, Mr Brincat said that during private talks he had had with operators in the renewable energy sector, many cast doubts on the Government’s plans to rely on wind energy.

The Government was only now talking about solar farms to harvest energy from the sun because there seemed to be a realisation that the proposed offshore wind farm at Mellieħa was unfeasible, Mr Brincat added.

The Government last night denied its wind energy plans were in trouble. Studies are still being made to assess the viability of the offshore wind farm, without which two smaller onshore wind farms will not be viable.

Quoting from official documents, Mr Brincat said solar energy had barely featured in the Government’s overall strategy to generate at least 10 per cent of electricity from renewable sources by 2020. “My suspicion is that the renewable targets were not met last year and are unlikely to be met this year... Malta is doomed to languish in the EU’s relegation zone of renewable energy targets,” he said.

Solar farms were mentioned by Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi recently as a solution for those who could not put up solar panels at their house. He said people, especially those who lived in flats, would be encouraged to invest in a communal farm and benefit from electricity generation.

Mr Brincat questioned the Government’s change of heart on solar energy, which was not mentioned in the Nationalist Party’s 2008 manifesto.

He said a Labour government would seek expert advice on whether the current energy mix proposed by the Government was adequate to generate the required 10 per cent or whether more emphasis should be placed on the sun.

The Resources Ministry rebutted the accusations, insisting it was not true that its wind energy plans had failed. The ministry questioned whether the Labour Party was against the environmental impact studies being carried out.

The statement said the Government was committed also to solar energy and pointed towards the various schemes launched over the past years that helped some 6,000 households invest in PV panels.

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