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Berry Forró | The heat is on… but the power is off

Malta is in the midst of a scorching heatwave. Temperatures on the island hover above 40 degrees Celsius and are expected to remain like that for at least a week. In the heat of all of this, a national crisis has occurred. Power outages have hit the island and have hit it hard. Vast areas have been left without power for days at a time, and many other areas are expected to be affected, as well. Enemalta, the national electricity supplier, has stated that the electricity outages are caused by the overheating of electrical infrastructure, stating that the heat has penetrated the roads and affected the electrical cables. The heatwave on the island is not expected to end soon which begs a serious question from the residents of Malta – when will the problem of these outages be resolved?

Residents of Malta share a sentiment that Enemalta’s and the government’s official response and communication have been lacklustre, and national uproar is gaining traction. Residents have been left in the dark about compensation for food lost due to the heat – food had to be thrown out due to fridges not working. People were left unable to cook, let alone use electricity for cooling and other activities such as working from home. The food waste is just yet another shock to the wallets of residents, especially considering an ongoing cost-of-living crisis. With rising prices from inflation, the residents of Malta have been faced with one financial shock after another and the power outages only add more stress – and an uncomfortable one at that, considering the scorching heat above 40 degrees Celsius for over a week straight. 

The spokesperson for energy from the opposition Nationalist Party, Mark Anthony Sammut, has claimed that Enemalta is “load-shedding”, where electricity is cut off from areas due to high levels of demand and the inability of the electrical provider to supply sufficient amounts of electricity. Therefore, to prevent the collapse of the electrical infrastructure they cut off electricity in certain areas at a time. This is standard practice in countries, such as South Africa, Pakistan, Lebanon, India, etc. Malta still heavily relies on fossil fuels, drawing a lot of criticism from the population. In response, Minister for Environment Miriam Dalli claimed last year that the ministry is looking into the investment and liability of offshore wind farms in Malta. That being said, updates on the research into it have been unclear and progress is not publicly known. Malta does not domestically generate electricity so the possible development of a project like this may promise positive sustainable development for the island. It is a refreshing take considering the overdevelopment of the island is seen as a serious long-term problem concerning residents of the island. 

Communications from the national electrical supplier have included informing residents via website or SMS of where and when outages are expected. They have also updated the public by saying that they are currently repairing the faulty cables. However, it is still unclear when the national crisis will be resolved, leaving the people of Malta without electricity to endure the humid hot heatwave.

Image: Locally Abroad, Pexels

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