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Grand Harbour project to cut emissions by over 90%

Grand Harbour project to cut emissions by over 90%

Transport Malta is introducing shoreside electricity for cruise-liners and other kinds of vessels visiting Maltese ports, which will effectively slice emissions by more than 90%!

By means of the Grand Harbour regeneration project, as well as Infrastructure Malta’s Grand Harbour clean air project (GHCAP), there will be 1,400 tonnes less nitrogen oxide emissions in the Harbour every year. This whopping number is the equivalent of the emissions of 350 million cars travelling from Ċirkewwa to Marsaxlokk.

With a single project, Malta’s annual nitrogen oxide emissions will be cut down by 27%. Though currently being led by Infrastructure Malta, the project will be handed over to Transport Malta to manage, following installation.

Where will the infrastructure be installed?

Good question! The infrastructure will be installed within Grand Harbour, in the port of Valletta. This forms part of the TEN-T network at Pinto Wharves, Deep Water quay, Boiler Wharf, Palumbo Shipyards, the Mediterranean Maritime Hub and after the land reclamation project, Ras Ħanżir too. The latter add another 350m of multi-modal quays in the area, which will also be installed to serve the vessels that are using the berth.

How will it work?

Simple. No, really! The project includes the development of electricity infrastructure for the ships and vessels to switch off their hydrocarbon-fuelled engines and generators. Once they’re off, they can plug into the shoreside electricity to power their onboard systems while berthed at the port.

The first phase of the project includes the installation of two frequency converter stations and the laying of 22km underground and subsea cable network. This is to distribute electricity from Enemalta’s closest distribution station in Marsa to the three quays in Valletta, the Deep Water Quay in Marsa and the Boiler Wharf in Senglea.

These are, in fact, the main quays that are used by cruise liners and Ro-Ro kinds of vessels visiting Malta. Shore side transformers and shore-to-ship connection panels will link the network to the ships so they can switch off their engines when they berth.

The second phase will extend shore side electricity to Laboratory Wharf, Magazine Wharf, Ras Ħanżir, Palumbo Shipyards and the Mediterranean Maritime Hub. Laboratory Wharf and Ras Ħanżir can be used by Ro-Ro ships, which berth at the Grand Harbour to ferry cars and trucks to and from Malta, as well as other kinds of OPS compatible vehicles.

How is the project progressing?

The construction work on the frequency converter station next to the Deep Water Quay, which is a first for Malta and one of the first of its kind in the world, is ready! The related works will now proceed with the external cladding of the building and the finishing. Works also started on the foundations of the second frequency convertor station, which will be installed in an old industrial shed at the Boiler Wharf.

In the meantime, most of the cables along the main project route have been laid and the design for the submarine cable is underway. Smaller structures at Pinto Wharf to house the shoreside equipment needed to connect the ships to the network are being built by Infrastructure Malta.

Other equipment, including wags holding cable reels and winches, switchgear and transformers, is being produced in specialised factories in different countries in Europe.

The European Union’s 2014 directive on the deployment of alternative fuels points out that member states should prioritise the introduction of shoreside electricity supply in ports of the TEN-T core network, like the Grand Harbour, by the end of 2024. Infrastructure Malta is planning on completing the first phase in its entirety by the end of 2023, with phase two commencing in 2024.

By reducing air pollution in the area, this project will contribute towards EU and national climate change objectives in line with the Paris Agreement. The agreement obliges ports to reduce the carbon footprint of their land-based activities, as well as the decarbonisation of shipping activities. The reduction in emissions also contributes towards meeting the obligations of a directive on ambient air quality and cleaner air for Europe.

Through the almost €50 million EU-funded investment, the project will contribute to an improved environment for 17,000 families living in the area.