Malta has shifted electricity generation away from fuel oil generation towards a cheaper, cleaner, gas-powered energy matrix, which has helped encourage the private sector to invest. Three investors came together to form ElectroGas Malta and to build a new gas-fired power plant and switch a second one from oil to gas. Electrogas’ CEO Franz Doerfler takes MaltaProfile through the innovative project.
Can you give us an overall perspective on the ElectroGas Malta project for a new gas-fired power station?
There are four main elements to the project: the ship Armada Mediterrana which acts as the storage point for LNG and is referred to as the Floating Storage Unit (FSU), the jetty which links the ship to the regasification plant and finally the combined cycle power production facility that brings together gas and steam turbines. Some three million working hours went into the completion of this project, which was brought together in less than four years. The ElectroGas Malta (EGM) shareholders each provide an essential role to this project, with German giant Siemens providing the tried and tested technology, SOCAR supplying the fuel while the local partners contribute with their knowledge and experience of the Maltese market.
ANTICIPATION: After months of hard work a the sight of the FSU on the Delimara horizon was a landmark moment for Electrogas
Why did ElectroGas Malta choose this solution of the FSU for the storage of the gas?
LNG is transported and stored all over the world safely and efficiently and is an ideal solution for Malta. There are about 370 LNG carriers worldwide, and they are among the strongest, safest and most technologically advanced ships in the world. All tankers have double hulls, reducing the risk of leakages and offer a high level of insulation to keep the LNG cool.
In Malta’s case, an important factor when building this plant was limiting its footprint and environmental impact. If the plant were to be fully land-based, therefore storing LNG in land-based tanks, the plant would have had to be more than double its current size. This was an integral factor leading to the decision of FSU storage. It is a safe solution. Furthermore, ElectroGas has teamed up with Ocean Installer, an experienced subsea and marine operations contractor, to include a mooring system that shall be used by the FSU during certain storm conditions. The system will be connected via custom-built winches held in slack when not in use. This means that it will be permanently connected, and when the need arises, the winches shall pull on the chains and the FSU will move out a short distance in order to ride out the storm and avoid any danger. It will revert to its original position after the sea conditions normalise.
COMBINED CYCLE: The power production facility brings together gas and steam turbines
What changes will the new power station set up bring to the population of Malta?
We are committed to provide safe, clean and economically sustainable power to Enemalta and therefore the citizens of Malta and Gozo. The ElectroGas project will enhance Malta’s efficiency in electricity generation to approximately 53% and reduce emissions by 50% and particulate matter by 90%. It will be providing cheaper and cleaner energy, as natural gas is a cleaner alternative to all other fossil fuels.
It will also help in the stable provision of energy and reach wider diversification of supply. The power plant will provide 205 Megawatts of power. This is a substantial contribution as Malta’s peak power consumption reaches 400 MW in winter and 450 MW in summer.
On another level, ElectroGas Malta also seeks to increase employment with regular openings for Maltese nationals to join the team.
"Countries, regions, and islands as far off as the Caribbean and as close as Corsica have shown their interest to have a similar FSU-based power plant"
Has there been any interest from others to export this technology to other parts of Europe?
There has been huge interest both for project replication but also in terms of investor interest in ElectroGas due to the success achieved through this project. We have met several possible clients and also potential investors. Countries, regions, and in particular islands as far off as the Caribbean and as close as Corsica have shown their interest to have a similar FSU-based power plant. After our success on the Malta-based power station, we have a real-life proof of concept