Final phases of €80 million network investment
Enemalta plc is working on the final stages of an €80 million three-year investment to upgrade and expand major nodes of the national electricity network and improve the quality of service to its customers.
In 2014, Enemalta plc launched a long-term project to consolidate the national electricity grid and increase the network’s flexibility to provide a quicker response to supply interruption emergencies including accidental damage, technical faults and other difficulties. Whilst electricity supply disruptions can never be eliminated, this major investment in the national grid enables Enemalta to minimise the risk and duration of these difficulties and provide better quality services to its customers.
As part of this project, the Company is adding six new distribution centres to the existing 20 centres across Malta and Gozo. It is also laying over 100 kilometres of new high voltage underground network connections interlinking different network nodes, whilst developing over 80 new 11 kV substations and upgrading another 100 existing installations.
The high voltage network is being reinforced through six new 33 kV and 132 kV distribution centres and the expansion of another two existing ones. Each new distribution centre represents an average investment of over €5 million. The Network Reinforcement Project is being funded through the Company’s own resources.
The new distribution centre at St Andrew’s was commissioned early this year, whilst the new centre at Manoel Island was connected to the grid in June, ahead of the seasonal rise in demand in this region. The Manoel Island Distribution Centre is contributing to an improved level of service at Msida, Ta’ Xbiex, Gzira, Tignè, Sliema, San Gwann and nearby areas, enabling Enemalta to meet the increasing electricity demand in these fast-developing localities. Until last year, these areas, along with St Julian’s, Pembroke, Swieqi and Madliena, relied on the Kappara and Paceville distribution centres only. The new distribution centres at St Andrew’s and Manoel Island are easing the load and dependency on the existing distribution centres by providing increased capacity and greater flexibility when responding to network emergencies.
In Gozo, the new Xewkija Distribution Centre was connected to the grid earlier this year as well. It is the second distribution centre on the island, ending its reliance on the existing Qala Distribution Centre whilst providing increased reliability to meet existing and future electricity demand requirements.
The new transformers and switchgear installed as part of the upgrade of the Mellieha and Santa Venera distribution centres are now in operation as well. At these two installations Enemalta replaced old equipment dating back to the 1970s. New transformers and switchgear were installed and the centres’ control and protection technologies were upgraded for additional capacity and redundancy.
Final testing of the first phase of the Marsa North Distribution Centre is also underway. The switchgear panels installed at this Centre will be replacing older distribution equipment located at the Marsa Power Station site, which is currently being dismantled. The final phase of this distribution centre, including the extension of the country’s 132 kV network through a new underground cable tunnel from the Marsa Power Station site to Qormi is in progress as well. Once this phase is commissioned, the Marsa North Distribution Centre will become one of the principal nodes of the national electricity grid.
Another two new distribution centres the Company is developing at Mriehel and Ricasoli are scheduled to be commissioned next year.
Since 2014, as part of this project Enemalta also added 216 new high voltage cable connections to the national grid, laying over 100 kilometres of underground cables. They are providing new alternative electricity distribution links between different regions and localities, which the Company can use to reduce the duration of interruptions caused by faults or other network emergencies.
During the same period 80 new 11 kV substations were developed in several localities. In over another 100 substations Enemalta carried out major upgrade works to replace outdated equipment with new transformers and switchgear.
Ing. Fredrick Azzopardi, Enemalta plc Executive Chairman, thanked the Company’ employees for their commitment to the implementation of these investments, commending them for meeting the timeframes and budgets set by the Company. He explained that the electricity distribution network requires constant maintenance, upgrades and expansion to continue providing adequate electricity services that meet customers’ requirements.
“For years, the Company may not have been able to maintain this investment. The implementation of our long-term plan for Enemalta to achieve financial sustainability is not only a matter of cutting down long-standing debts and reducing dependency on government guarantees. Ultimately, this transformation is about establishing a self-sufficient company capable of maintaining an efficient and reliable electricity distribution system that meets customers’ service level expectations whilst swiftly responding to resolve difficulties caused by accidents, faults or other emergencies. The multi-million investment we implemented in the last few years is just the beginning of an ongoing improvement process which Enemalta needs to maintain to secure a better quality service for all its customers.”