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The Malta-Italy Interconnector 

The Malta-Italy Interconnector, inaugurated in April 2015, contributes to the achievement of a diversified mix of energy sources by providing the country with access to electricity generated through sources located in Sicily and other regions in mainland Europe.

The Interconnector comprises a 120-kilometre high voltage alternating current (HVAC) system capable of bidirectional flow of electrical power, transferring 200MW of electricity. In Sicily, the Interconnector is linked to the Italian network at 230kV at the Terna substation in Ragusa. The submarine cable lands in Malta at Qalet Marku, Bahar ic-Caghaq and transmits electricity to the distribution network at 132kV through a nearby Enemalta terminal station at Maghtab.
 
Maghtab Terminal Station
 
This terminal station is located a few hundred metres away from Qalet Marku Bay, where the submarine cable was pulled ashore in December 2013. At the Terminal Station, electricity from the submarine cable will be received at 220kV and stepped down to 132kV. It is then fed to the Maltese grid via cables passing through a purposely-built 6.5 kilometres tunnel leading to the Kappara Distribution Centre. The cables connecting the Terminal Station to the Distribution Centre comprise three circuits, each with three single core cables in trefoil formation. At the other end of the terminal, the Interconnector cable heads towards Sicily through an 850 metre underground culvert until it reaches Qalet Marku Bay, at Bahar ic-Caghaq.
 
The submarine cable
 
The subsea circuit is approximately 98 kilometres long. It was laid between December 2013 and March 2014 using the specialised cable laying vessel, the Nexans Skagerrak. Along most of the route, the submarine cable is buried in a trench beneath the seabed. In areas where the seabed was too hard to trench the cable is covered with a rock berm. The cable also crosses some Posidonia Oceanica meadows. To avoid damaging this listed plant’s habitat, the cable has not been buried or placed in a trench but wrapped in strong cast iron shells.
 
At Qalet Marku, the submarine cable is pulled through a 220 metre underwater micro tunnel reaching from the seabed in the middle of the bay to the culvert leading to the Maghtab Terminal. At Marina di Ragusa, the interconnector was pulled ashore through another micro tunnel and then jointed to the land cables leading to the Terna substation.
 
Ragusa Substation
 
In Sicily, the Interconnector is linked to the Italian network at a Ragusa substation managed by Terna, the company that operates the electricity transmission grid in this region.
 
At Marina di Ragusa a transition joint connects the submarine cable to the land cables. The 19.1-kilometre stretch of cable from Marina di Ragusa to the Terna substation includes three single core cables placed in trefoil formation and buried in a trench mostly dug in public secondary roads. This circuit was laid in 19 stretches of cable, each one kilometre long.
 
Power Fibre Link
 
Besides the electricity copper power cables, the submarine cable between the two islands also includes two fibre optic clusters. Enemalta will use this capacity to transmit the data required in the operation of the Interconnector’s monitoring, protection and control systems.
 
The fibre optic clusters are embedded within the armoured submarine cable, providing them with additional safeguards and reinforcement to ensure safety and reliability. Moreover, throughout the entire route between Malta and Sicily, the submarine cable is buried in a trench beneath the seabed. In areas where the seabed was too hard to trench or where digging was not allowed due to environmental concerns, the cable is covered with a rock berm or enclosed within strong cast iron shells. On land in Sicily, the fibre optic cable has been installed in an HDPE pipe in the same trench alongside the power cable route.
 
Project development
 
The contract for the manufacturing and placing of the subsea cable and related infrastructures was awarded to the Norway-based international company Nexans.
 
The building of the Interconnector’s land infrastructure in Malta progressed steadily until 2013 and accelerated in 2014 when Enemalta re-organised the project management structures to allocate additional resources and prioritise the remaining works, including the laying of the subsea cable and the related infrastructures at Ragusa, in Sicily. The latter works had not yet commenced since not all authorisations were in place. Enemalta and Nexans began laying the subsea cable from Qalet Marku at the end of December 2013. Using the Nexans Skagerrak, a specialised subsea cable laying vessel, the two companies completed the laying works in two phases, reaching Ragusa in March.
 
During summer 2014, with the support of the Maltese Government, Enemalta secured the required planning and environmental authorisations from the Italian authorities to start the required installations at Marina di Ragusa. These include the Enemalta equipment at the Terna substation, the laying of the land cables and the drilling of the micro tunnel at the Marina di Ragusa. In September, once the micro tunnel was excavated, the laying vessel returned to Sicily to coordinate the final pull-in of the submarine cable to land.     
 
All equipment installation and cable jointing works in Malta and in Sicily were completed by the end of December 2014. Testing of all systems commenced in January 2015. During the same month, Enemalta plc and Enel Trade signed a framework five-year agreement to use the Interconnector for the importation of electricity from Italy.
 
The project was commissioned in April 2015. 
 
The project is part-financed through the European Union’s European Energy Programme for Recovery (EEPR).
 
Interconnector Interconnector Interconnector Interconnector 
Nexans personnel The interconnector cable Maghtab Terminal The laying vessel at
overlooking operations on the ship’s turntable Station Qalet Marku

  Interconnector 

Interconnector 

 Interconnector

  Interconnector 

Cast iron shells clipped to the cable The Interconnector switchgear at the One of the transformers at the A cross section view of the
for added protection Ragusa substation Maghtab Terminal Station submarine cable
 

 The Interconnector landing in Sicily and related works

 

 

Footage of the cable pulling, cable laying and Maghtab Terminal Station