Solar Farms in Malta
What is a Solar Farm?
A solar farm is a collection of connected photovoltaic panels whose purpose is to generate renewable energy which is stored in batteries or feed into the electrical grid which is typically sold to energy companies. These types of sites were defined by the Malta Planning Authority in 2017 as commercial installation over an area larger than 1000 square meters with solar panels.
Government Schemes for Solar Panels
In 2017 the Energy and Water Government Agency of Malta announced its plan to have half of the island’s renewable energy being produced by solar energy farms by 2020. The scheme entitled +1MW called for applications for the installations of over 2.7 million square meters of pv panels in six different sites including Quarries, Disused Landfills, car parks and other categories. This ambitious project would require enough solar panels to cover almost 400 football grounds. A maximum of 140 million euros would be provided as aid to subsidise the scheme until the end of 2020. This scheme was renewed in 2018 and 2020.
With the introduction of the first solar farm scheme in 2017, the Malta Planning Authority published a framework policy to aid and support the installation of these types of installations. This policy defined a ‘solar farm’ as an area with the purpose of producing renewable energy with the use of photovoltaic panels. The locations of these sites are encountered to be in the vicinity of urban areas or close to high consumption areas to obtain the maximum efficiency. Furthermore, the policy encourages solar farm development which achieves dual or multiple uses of land, to ensure that urban areas are exploited in a more efficient manner.
In late 2020 the Government of Malta projected that 1500 households would be supplied with energy generated from solar farms within the next two years. The announcement was made as part of a projection to have the island carbon neutral by 2050.
Studies by the University of Malta have shown that due to the lack of land availability, solar generating systems will be possible at sea. By taking advantage of an average of 300 days of sunshine per year installing solar panels in open water, in offshore floating PV farms, could be as cost-effective and reliable as those on land. Many countries including China, USA, France and the UK have successfully installed such systems and this could be extended to Malta.
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