Enemalta plc has completed the excavation of a 1.8 kilometre tunnel linking its new electricity distribution centre at Marsa to the high voltage system supplying electricity from power stations to the country’s major network nodes.
Through this tunnel, the Company will be laying new cables to extend the national grid’s 132 kilovolt (kV) network. The project forms part of a multi-million investment to increase the capacity and reliability of the distribution system supplying electricity to customers in localities in the Grand Harbour area and beyond.
This week, a team of workers operating a specialised roadheader machine completed the excavation of the new tunnel by breaking through to an existing tunnel at Qormi. Ing. Fredrick Azzopardi, Enemalta plc Executive Chairman, and the Company’s management team, welcomed the workers as they emerged from the new tunnel.
Over 58,000 tonnes of limestone were excavated to dig the five-metre-wide tunnel from the former Marsa Power Station site to an existing underground electricity distribution tunnel at Qormi. Along the way, engineers, architects, geologists and other technicians monitored the excavations to identify and implement several structural reinforcements required to ensure the tunnel’s stability.
Ten kilometres of 132 kV cables will now be channelled through the new tunnel and other existing Enemalta tunnels to link the new Marsa North Distribution Centre to the rest of the country’s 132 kV network. This high voltage system distributes electricity from the Delimara Power Station and the Malta-Italy Interconnector to the national grid’s main network nodes at Kappara, Mosta and Marsa. Electricity is then stepped down in several stages at other distribution centres and substations, until it reaches the voltage levels required by customers in homes, businesses and other buildings across Malta and Gozo.
The Marsa North Distribution Centre, situated in the Jesuits Hill area of Marsa, was completed earlier this year and is currently receiving and distributing electricity at 33 kV. As it is connected to the 132 kV network, this distribution centre will become one of the main nodes of the country’s network, securing increased system capacity and redundancy. Previously, this connection was provided through old equipment incorporated in the former Marsa Power Station. This 1953 station was fully decommissioned earlier this year and is now being dismantled.
Ing. Azzopardi thanked the Company’s employees and contractors for their commitment to complete this project. “This effort is another important reinforcement of the country’s electricity distribution system, as we continue to increase service reliability and reduce the risks of power cuts, whilst meeting rising electricity demand. Over the last few years we invested over €100 million in major network upgrade projects, including the development of six new distribution centres and the addition of over 100 kilometres of high voltage cables to the existing underground network.”
“Besides other ongoing projects, we have recently announced another €20 million investment in projects to upgrade the electricity distribution system at the Hal Far Industrial Zone area, at Marsascala and nearby localities, and in the region of San Gwann, Pembroke and St Julian’s. Through these upgrades we will be doubling our system capacity to meet increasing demand in these areas, as new commercial, industrial and residential developments are connected to the grid in the next few years.”