In recent years, legislation regulating Malta’s energy sector was overhauled in order for the Maltese’ Government to forge ahead with its policies of shifting Malta towards the use of renewable energy and in a bid to liberalise the market. The Malta Resources Authority (MRA), a public corporate body set up in 2000 through the Malta Resources Authority Act (Chapter 423 of the Laws of Malta) regulates water, energy and mineral resources, promotes energy efficiency and renewables, and regulates responsibilities in oil exploration and climate change. Presently, its duties govern the licensing and regulation of the aforementioned, above anything else. The Regulator for Energy and Water Services is also another public authority within the sector. It regulates the practices, operations and activities in the energy and water sectors.
While Malta relies on imported fuels for its electricity and energy distribution, in recent years it began making significant efforts towards diversifying its energy sector, focusing on solar energy as well as other more environmentally-friendly fuels. The new energy legislation, which entered into force in 2014, overhaul the previous laws, and began to cater for specific foreign investment in Malta which, in practice, ended the monopoly of the energy market in Malta. This new law brought about new opportunities for investment within the energy sector in Malta by regulating possible distribution system operators in relation to energy supplies in the country.
Act XXXIV of 2014 (Enemalta (Transfer of Assets, Rights, Liabilities and Obligations) Act) lays out the duties and obligations of distributors, their limitation of liability and fixed tariffs. The operator, for example, has the discretion to reduce the energy supply if the demand is higher than the supply possibilities within the context of unforeseen circumstances. Tariffs may be proposed by the distributor but must be approved in writing by the MRA. A distributor may also participate in public procurement opportunities.
Therefore, the Maltese Government clearly encourages investment within this sector, and not merely in the electricity supply domain. Proposals for alternative energy possibilities are welcomed by the authorities and are generally assessed with an open mind. Proposals for wind energy possibilities, enhancing solar energy development and other renewable energy resources would also be assessed by the authorities involved. The regulators remain flexible and accessible to investors and potential partners in the energy sector as required. Furthermore, the regulators issue grants and schemes towards specific projects within the energy sector, from time to time, which are available to individuals and corporate entities, alike.
Malta, as an EU member state, is ensuring that its laws in this sector work hand in hand with European and international laws, also regarding energy performance and climate change incentives. Maltese legislation regarding energy performance in buildings was also brought in line with the EU directives. Anyone selling, constructing or renting a building is obliged to present an energy performance certificate (EPC) during the period of promise of sale or rental agreement or on the contract date. Failure to comply to these regulations would result in fines being imposed. Additionally, a design rating application is required in order for the Planning Authority to be able to issue a building permit. Such certifications, in line with EU law, seek to provide for sustainable construction.
Generally, aspects including regulatory compliance and corporate arrangements would also play a role in such energy-related projects in Malta.