Enemalta plc is laying 10 kilometres of new high voltage underground cables in Mellieħa to replace the old overhead lines that supply electricity to Gozo.
Through this €1.6 million investment the Company is improving the reliability and security of the electricity distribution network supplying the island of Gozo. Replacing the old 33kV overhead lines with new underground cables will reduce the risk of storm damages and other difficulties associated with the operation, repair and maintenance of overhead lines. It will also lead to the elimination of the visual impact of these aerial lines and their pylons across kilometres of countryside in Mellieħa.
Customers in Gozo and Comino receive electricity through submarine cables connected to the Vendôme Distribution Centre at Armier Bay. This distribution centre is supplied from the Mellieħa Distribution Centre through three alternative connections. Two of these connections include a set of two parallel 33kV lines suspended on 33 pylons across a distance of 4.5 kilometres across the countryside between the two distribution centres. The pylons, which reach heights of up to eight storeys, were erected between 1986 and 1988. They are the longest stretch of overhead 33kV lines still in use in Malta, extending all the way from the locality’s residential area down to Għadira Bay, before taking a steep climb to the Red Tower area of L-Ahrax tal-Mellieħa, until they reach the Vendôme Disribution Centre.
Earlier this month Enemalta started laying two new XLPE-insulated 33 kV underground cable connections between the two distribution centres. Once these new connections are energised, the old overhead lines and their pylons will be dismantled.
The first phase of the project includes the excavation and cable laying works at the Għadira Bay area. This work will be ready before summer. Between June and September Enemalta will be laying cables in other sections of the route to avoid traffic disruptions close to the area’s beaches. The final excavation and cable laying works are expected to be ready in autumn 2017. As part of these works, Enemalta is also increasing the capacity of the Mellieħa Bay area through the development of a new 11kV substation.
During the last two years, electricity supply to Gozo was further reinforced through another two major developments. In 2015 Enemalta commissioned a new distribution centre at Xewkija to provide the necessary security of supply by ending the island’s dependency on the existing 1987 distribution centre at Qala. In addition, last year the Company also upgraded the Mellieħa Distribution Centre, the network node supplying electricity to Gozo. Enemalta engineers and technicians replaced its 1973 transformers and switchgear to double its capacity and ensure an adequate level of redundancy even during the peak summer months.
The upgrading of the electricity supply to Gozo forms part of Enemalta’s €80 million plus Network Reinforcement Project across the Maltese Islands. This investment was launched in 2014 to consolidate the reliability and flexibility of the national electricity distribution network, whilst providing the necessary infrastructure to meet the rising demand for electricity in different regions. As part of this project Enemalta developed four new electricity distribution centres at Manoel Island, Pembroke, Marsa and Xewkija, Gozo. A fifth new distribution centre at Mrieħel is nearing completion whilst another one is currently under construction at Ricasoli.
The project also includes the upgrading of another four distribution centres with new equipment, to replace old infrastructure whilst increase network redundancy and capacity. The network was also reinforced through the addition of 100 kilometres of new underground high voltage cable connections as well as new equipment in over 200 11kV substations.