Fabian Demicoli

GRTU secures Ministry’s commitment for a PPP for PV investments by local operators

Local operators in the PV sector will soon be given the opportunity to carry out installations at an area which the Government will be allocating for such investments at a price of Eur 0.50c per sqm.

This is an initiative GRTU has, during the past months, been lobbying for and is now very pleased that Government has seen the validity of its proposal and Minister Konrad Mizzi has committed himself to make it work.

This development and commitment came after GRTU publicly expressed its disappointment when it read on the papers that a significant amount of land was being made available to Shanghai Electric Power at very advantageous rates.

The GRTU argued that Maltese enterprises should not be treated any less. The Ministry understood this complaint and immediately expressed its willingness to provide a similar opportunity to Maltese enterprises.

What the initiative will actually involve is giving local PV sector operators (importers, retailers, installers) the opportunity to carry out works on a piece of land during periods when work is slow.

In the last years GRTU has been working with the renewable energy sector GRTU has learned that this sector is very volatile because it is dependent and therefore affected by the Government schemes (MRA schemes). When a scheme is open the sector experiences a sudden spike in work load for which they have to prepare with additional human resources. On the other hand, it experiences the exact opposite effect when the scheme closes, with the instant halt of work and many employees become idle. The sector has had to learn to diversify and shift its operations however, it cannot do this effectively enough to shift and occupy full capacity until another scheme is open.

A survey conducted by GRTU found that the sector employs in total around 750 installers alone and these are employees that are at high risk when the level of installations is low. The number of employees continues to increase if one had to include non-technical employees. We consider non-technical employees to be low risk and therefore a much lower percentage of these employees, when compared to the technical employees, are at risk of becoming redundant.

When one considers that the latest scheme closed in March 2014 and the sector took till around September 2014 finalising installations, it is evident that the sector has now been struggling for a good seven months in its efforts to keep all technical people in employment.

This will however not be the only positive element that will come out of the initiative. Every now and then governments state that small portions of a PV farm shall be put for sale and available to families that have no roof space. GRTU is a great believer in equal opportunities, in fact it has launched the PVPFS scheme to aid families who have a roof but do not have the financial means to take out the initial investment and be able to install PV panels on their rooftops. This initiative should take us a step further and offer the perfect platform to enable families that do not have access to their roof to purchase or lease parts of the proposed PV farm. This will help families get access to more affordable energy prices as well as possibly getting some financial return on their investment.

One of the biggest challenges Malta, like many other countries, faces today is the security of energy supply. Unlike other counties Malta however has very scarce resources and this puts our country in an even more precarious situation to overcome this challenge. It is however also true that the country, its residents and enterprises, cannot afford not to have an aggressive and constant energy policy that increases Malta’s independence when it comes to energy supply and drives down energy prices for users. In addition Malta is also under pressure to reach the EU 2020 targets for energy generated from renewable energy.

We feel proud to say that both the GRTU and its members in the private sector have been both very instrumental and of service to our country in contributing to the energy policy, reaching the EU set targets, reducing our dependency of imported resources and driving down prices for those who saw the value of such investments. This however could not have been possible without the essential contribution of the public sector that over the years has helped in directing and driving investment in the renewable energy sector. GRTU firmly believes that the experiences undertaken so far have been positive for all involved and that the public sector has found a valuable partner in the private sector to support it in its initiatives.

 

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