Malta’s government recently decided to pursue an industrial/commercial rooftop solar subsidy scheme with a €5.5 million cap. The government, unfortunately, has gone and cancelled these plans. But why?
The rooftop scheme, which was to be cofounded by the European Union, was cancelled due to “problems encountered in the process of pre-selection of suppliers,” as Jonathan Gifford of PV Magazine writes. The scheme required installers to register before funds for projects could be obtained.
Charles Yousif, from the University of Malta’s Institute for Sustainable Energy, said that it is likely that applicants that were not successful in applying for approval for the scheme had likely raised objections. “This probably created a counter-reaction from these unsuccessful entities, which halted the whole process,” Yousif told PV Magazine.
The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) was the EU funding body involved with the incentive program, and Malta Enterprise said that it was consulted before the cancellation was announced. The government of Malta stated that it will use $5.5 million for other things, but the specifics of that are unclear.
Rooftop Solar vs Centralized Solar Power Plants
Rooftop solar projects and centralized solar power plants each have their own benefits and drawbacks. Rooftop solar has the ability to save a tremendous amount of space, as no additional land has to be purchased just for them, while centralized solar power plants can offer economies of scale.
Financially, rooftop solar systems usually benefit the households and businesses that install the solar panel systems, creating a more distributed and “democratized” ownership of our power system. Centralized power plants are generally owned by large corporations and semi-monopolies.
Malta started implementing a €21 million solar PV feed-in tariff scheme in May, so it’s good to see that the country is at least promoting solar PV in that way.