The strategic importance at EU level of MTGP has been recognized by the European Commission that selected the project 2013 for the inclusion in the first list of European Project of Common Interest (PCI 5.19), in accordance with the European Union Regulation No. 347/2013 on the guidelines for trans-European energy infrastructure (TEN-E regulation), under priority corridor “North-South gas interconnections in Western Europe”. Subsequently the project has been reconfirmed in the second, third and fourth PCI list.
Being a PCI, the Project may benefit from accelerated planning and permit granting, a single national authority for obtaining permits, improved regulatory conditions, lower administrative costs due to streamlined environmental assessment processes, increased public participation via consultations, and increased visibility to investors.
PCIs are also eligible for EU co-financing under the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF). In fact, the project has already benefited from such grants and more than 4.5 million Euros have already been co-financed for all the preparatory studies.
Melita TransGas Pipeline poses a means to fulfil EU strategic energy policy goals on energy solidarity between Member States, formation of an Internal Energy Market, diversification of sources, reduced dependency on a single supply source and improved energy security. The pipeline, which can transmit 100% biomethane can also be designed in a way as to transmit 100% green hydrogen thus providing a further alternative for the decarbonisation of the energy sector and contribute to the increase in electricity demand expected due to a shift towards electromobility.
The main objective of ending isolation of a Member State and the fundamental importance of a fully functioning and connected internal energy market has long been acknowledged by the European Council.
Furthermore, by ending the isolation of Malta and linking it to the main gas networks, MTGP contributes to the development of internal energy market and to the emergence of well-functioning wholesale markets in line with ACER Gas Target Model guidelines. While Malta is already connected to the electricity market through the cable interconnection to Sicily, the island still remains isolated from the gas network as presented in the fact sheet on the “Energy Union five years on infrastructure map of a resilient energy union” which was published in 2019 and which refers specifically to the Malta-Italy hydrogen ready pipeline.
At a national level, the intention to build a subsea interconnection pipeline to Italy announced by the Government of Malta in 2013, has the solid foundations in the long-term vision of the “National Reform Programme of Malta” and has as its objective ending isolation of Malta by connecting the island to the Trans-European Natural Gas Transmission Network.
The Project supports Malta’s strategy for energy and climate change plan, as reiterated in the 2030 National Energy and Climate Plan to permanently shift the generation of electricity to natural gas as the current LNG facilities are considered an intermediate operative solution operational until the pipeline enters into service.
The project will also support the integration of renewable energy sources in Malta (mainly PV) which have increased sharply in the last few years as it will provide fuel to the sector that balances the inconsistency and reliability of renewable generation.
Moreover, MTGP complies with the Maltese plan to reduce GHG emissions by switching to a cleaner energy source (natural gas) and eliminating the need for liquefaction, shipping transport and regasification pertaining to current LNG imports.
MTGP will furthermore bring economic, environmental and social benefits to the Maltese citizens by firstly allowing for cheaper gas prices through their convergence to that of the Italian and European market and by reducing the emissions from LNG shipping.
The PCI will end Malta’s physical isolation from the European gas network and allow access to renewable gases from Italy. The Project can be considered an essential part of the future hydrogen cross-border network as it will give access to Malta to import/export pure hydrogen from the future EU hydrogen grid and potentially provide a future connection bridge to importation of hydrogen from North Africa to the EU.
Security of supply:
The hydrogen ready pipeline will enable a more reliable, secure and energy efficient form of gas/hydrogen transport than the current LNG supply through maritime transport.
The PCI’s hydrogen ready design shall enhance the deployment of renewable gases and allow for the decarbonisation of local power generation, necessary to ensure security of electricity supply to the island and support RES intermittency and growth. The pipeline’s capacity shall allow the use of the renewable gases not solely for energy generation purposes but for potential inland uses including road, air and maritime transport.
The Project will contribute to the diversification of import sources/routes hence increasing competitiveness. It shall accelerate the repurposing of the Italian gas network to transmit hydrogen and incentivize neighbouring states including North African countries to invest in low-cost green hydrogen production.
MTGP project has been supported by EU institutions also by means of approximately 4.5 million euro as grants awarded to co-finance the project development activities:
- (TEN-E funded – Decision Nr C(2013) 8516): “Feasibility Study and cost-benefit analysis of a gas pipeline between Malta and Sicily”, completed in 2015
- (CEF-Energy funded, Action No. 5.19-0011-MTIT-S-M-15): “Route identification study including conceptual design and preparatory activities for the permitting process for a gas pipeline connection between Malta and Sicily”, completed in 2017
- (CEF-Synergy funded, Action No: 2016-MT-SA-0005): “Study on the development of LNG as a marine fuel for Malta”, completed in December 2018
- (CEF-Energy funded – Action No: 5.19-0006-ITMT-S-M-17): “Studies for Malta-Italy Gas Interconnection: ESIA, marine survey, FEED, EPC tender preparation & financial engineering”, ongoing and expected to be completed in 2021