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MALTATODAY 10 July 2022

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3 maltatoday | SUNDAY • 10 JULY 2022 MEPs exclude biofuels In their vote on SAF, MEPs barred the use of controversial biofuel feedstocks from Europe's aviation green fuel mandate (ReFuelEU). MEPs effectively doubled down on using synthetic fuels for avia- tion, rather than harmful biofuels made from palm oil by-products and crops. This means that sustainable aviation fuels cannot be linked to the production of food that is derived from deforestation or loss of bi- odiversity, or which otherwise leads to increasing food prices. MEPs in fact opposed extending the definition of sustainable fuels to include palm oil by-products PFADs and intermediate crops. Animal fats, the by-products of the animal slaughter process, will however be included for SAF. Palm oil is very often the chosen substitute for animal fats, and this leads to negative impacts on global land use change and emissions. MEPs showed preference for synthetic fuels over biofuels, but the main synthetic fuel available now is e-kerosene, which is generat- ed by combining green hydrogen (H2) and carbon dioxide (CO2). Synthetic aviation fuels could also be created using renewable electricity and green hydrogen. not after." Government tells MEPs to vote against While the Maltese govern- ment was unable to either convince European transport ministers, or obtain exemp- tions on sustainable aviation fuel for airlines landing at Mal- ta International Airport, within the European Council, earlier this week it advised Maltese MEPs to vote against the Fit For 55 legislative position. All Labour MEPs voted against SAF, while Nationalist MEP David Casa supported the EPP line and voted in favour of SAF despite submissions from the Maltese government that it would raise Air Malta costs and pricing. The government told MEPs that while the original Com- mission proposal from Brussels was to introduce a "gradual blending obligation" on SAF, the European Parliament's proposals was to increase this share significantly. "This substantial increase might prove challenging for member states, such as Malta, which do not produce fuel and thus, rely heavily on imports," permanent representative Marlene Bonnici told MEPs. While Malta supported the Commission proposal, it said MEPs should oppose the in- creased targets proposed by the European Parliament's rappor- teur, because this would raise prices for aviation. "Due to the increase in price of flight tick- ets, citizens will not be able to travel via flight to their intend- ed destination as the cost of air transport starts to become pro- hibitive. This is obviously all the more relevant for a mem- ber state which depends so heavily on the aviation sector for connectivity, tourism and economic development." Malta appears to have been successful in pushing for an exemption from routes of less than 1,200km when departing from an EU airport. Crucially, it allows airlines to exempt them- selves from having to use SAF if a member state authority has not replied to an exemption re- quest within three months. But the EP position has not provid- ed for such a system. Government position Yet while the Permanent Rep- resentation of Malta called on MEPs to vote against the EP's negotiating position on SAF, transport minister Aaron Far- rugia yesterday told Malta- Today it was "positive to see the European Parliament also moving in this direction... fu- ther work on this dossier will be carried out throughout which Malta will continue to push forward its interests, in order to for an agreement to be reached between the co-legis- lators." Farrugia said Malta is a strong supporter of this Fit For 55 proposal. "Shifting to smart and safe low- and zero-emis- sion aviation requires a radical change throughout the whole aviation industry and its sup- ply chain. It is true that SAF is currently more costly than tra- ditional fossil jet fuel. Howev- er, as the technology matures it will become more efficient and less costly for the industry and its customers." Farrugia said passengers of airlines that use SAF will value the emission-reduction bene- fits, and that phasing out fos- sil fuels will save Malta from further costs borne through the Emissions Trading System (ETS) and other fuel taxes. To bridge the price gap be- tween conventional fuel and SAF, Malta is hoping to claim ETS allowances when SAF is used on flights which serve peripheral, insular and island regions. In forthcoming negotiations between Council and MEPs, Malta will adamantly push the line for an EU-wide SAF blending mandate only, to en- sure a level playing field and sufficient access to SAF so as to bring costs down. Farrugia says the Council's agreement has the necessary safeguards for Malta's issues of periph- erality, with its limited con- nectivity options. Whether it can drive home its position in the forthcoming negotiations with the European Parliament is another matter. Renewable electricity and green hydrogen were given the green light from MEPs for inclusion in the SAF mix, with requirements for airports to facilitate recharging and re- fuelling. The European Parliament voted to expand a list of feed- stocks to include recycled carbon fuels produced from waste processing gas and bi- ofuels derived from so-called category three animal fats up until 2034. But the Parliament voted to exclude palm oil by-prod- ucts and food crops, includ- ing palm fatty acid distillates (PFAD), intermediate crops, and palm or soy-derived dis- tillates – feedstocks which MEPs had approved in com- mittee. Sustainable aviation fuel CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 State energy provider Ene- malta registered new peaks in energy demand for three days in a row, surpassing the highest ever electricity peak load registered, data seen by MaltaToday shows. The record figures refer to the amount of energy dis- tributed through the national electricity network, with de- mand rising on a daily basis, and breaking one consecutive record over the other. On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, the electricity grid load registered exceed- ed the all-time peak grid load registered in 2019. During the same period in 2019 – the year prior to the COVID-19 slowdown – Enemalta had registered a record peak of 522 megawatts. But over the past days, de- spite it still being July, En- emalta recorded 566MW on Tuesday, 577MW on Wednesday and 581MW on Thursday. Consumers are increasingly making use of electrical ap- pliances to keep their homes and businesses cool, but the demand for electricity is also dependent on other factors such as population growth and climate change. Enemalta sources told Mat- aToday the constant, in- creased demand for energy also leads to an increase in cable temperatures, and in current temperatures find no respite to cool down, which also results in faults, particu- larly in underground cables. Enemalta is currently un- dergoing a €90 million spend on network distribution, in a bid to minimise disruptions from the increased pressures on the system. But in various separate and localised incidents, residents in a number of localities have reported power cuts over the last few days. Enemalta is switching con- sumers who experience faults onto alternative sources until the necessary repair works take place. But in cases where the fault is underground, works often require highly skilled personnel and state- of-the-art equipment to carry out excavation works for the repair works, which require testing before switching con- sumers back onto original feeders. Energy records broken in three consecutive days as tempeatures soar

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