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Increasing Access to Renewable Energy in Malta Can Help Reduce Poverty 

Renewable Energy in MaltaMalta, one of the smallest countries in the European Union, has a unique identity. As of December 2022, the poverty rate in Malta stands at 16.7%. Reports indicate that in 2018, 7.6% of households in Malta could not afford to keep their houses warm, in line with the European Union’s average of 7.3%. Energy poverty is one of the contributing factors to this situation. Malta’s energy consumption rates are remarkably low, a consequence of the high energy prices. Approximately 16.7% of households in Malta spend less on energy compared to the European Union average, further emphasizing this point. However, Malta must achieve the EU’s climate neutrality goal by 2050 while ensuring affordable and accessible energy. Therefore, increasing access to renewable energy in Malta is crucial. 

Malta faces challenges in reaching its energy goals due to high prices and limited options. The biggest is that most of Malta’s energy is imported, primarily from non-renewable sources, with only a small amount, approximately 4% as of 2021, coming from solar power. Additionally, Malta relies on a single electricity distributor and lacks a natural gas and district heating and cooling network. These limitations pose challenges, particularly in terms of expanding renewable energy production in Malta, as they restrict the available options to meet the 2050 energy-saving standards. 

These issues further perpetuate poverty in the country, amplifying high energy prices due to the small market and the fact that the tiny nation is an island. Every household in the nation, especially the most vulnerable, experiences both direct and indirect effects as a result. Moreover, the cost of living increases as acquiring and performing products and services becomes more expensive. Therefore, increasing renewable energy in Malta would not only benefit the energy industry as a whole but individual households, especially those most vulnerable.

Renewable Energy Options in Malta

Resources for powering renewable energy endeavors are plentiful in and around Malta. The island receives abundant sun, enabling the establishment of large solar arrays. Furthermore, the implementation of offshore wind farming is not a new concept within the European Union and could be achieved easily off the shores of Malta. Additionally, Malta serves as a testing ground for innovative technologies that harness the power of the ocean and convert it into electricity. Harnessing wave energy alone would contribute significantly to Malta’s achievement of national energy targets, further highlighting the untapped potential of relying on renewable energy in Malta.

How it Directly Affects Poverty Rates

It is valid to inquire about the direct impact of increasing renewable energy in Malta on reducing the national poverty rate. One significant aspect to consider is that increasing renewable energy, both in Malta and elsewhere, contributes to mitigating the effects of changing weather patterns. This, in turn, reduces the severity of flooding and storm surges, which undoubtedly affect the island country. The impact of natural disasters tends to be more severe on individuals living in extreme poverty, making the most vulnerable population in Malta more susceptible.

Increasing renewable energy in Malta not only brings national benefits but also contributes to economic growth. Implementing renewable energy methods such as solar, wave and wind farming would diversify Malta’s sources and suppliers. This not only helps reduce direct and indirect energy costs for those living in poverty through economic competition but also enhances energy security by relying on multiple sources. It provides flexibility and reliability in the energy system, particularly during times of need. Moreover, increasing renewable energy in Malta does not solely bring national benefits. As Malta expands its solar fields and adopts new renewable energy technologies, it stimulates and positively impacts global trade. This further benefits individuals living in poverty in Malta by boosting national economic welfare, which historically leads to direct increases in wages.

Wave Energy Harvesting

As aforementioned, wave energy harvesting stands out as a particularly promising technology in Malta. Studies have been conducted by Researchers at the University of Malta, Institute for Environmental Protection and Research in Rome and they concluded wave energy harvesting is most suitable for the winter months. Additionally, the researchers noted that during the summer months, wind and solar power could compensate for the decrease in wave power. This further underscores the importance of diversification to guarantee an adequate energy supply for all.

The Maltese government has already taken steps to promote renewable energy. Incentives such as feed-in tariffs and grants encourage the installation of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, resulting in rapid growth in solar PV capacity. This growth is expected to continue as the costs of solar technology become more affordable. Furthermore, Malta is actively pursuing wind energy through projects like the Montenegro Wind Farm, increasing its wind energy capacity. In addition, offshore wind energy exploration further enhances Malta’s renewable energy portfolio. Alongside these efforts, Malta is actively working on energy efficiency measures and aims to reduce primary energy consumption. This is being achieved through initiatives such as energy-efficient buildings, smart grid technologies and the promotion of energy-efficient appliances. These endeavors contribute to Malta’s overall energy transition and diversification, making energy in the country more reliable and affordable for those in need.

Ultimately, increasing renewable energy in Malta will lead to greater energy independence, positioning the country as a stronger member of the EU and the international community. If energy availability and consumption are no longer major concerns then more funding could be allocated toward poverty alleviation efforts in a nation where 16.9% of the population lives below the poverty line. Individuals in poverty will gain the energy security they deserve, paving the way for a brighter future.

– Ada Rose Wagar
Photo: Flickr