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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Award

Fall 2010

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Department of Integrated Science and Technology

Advisor(s)

Robert Farrugia

Jonathan J. Miles

Godwin Debono

Abstract

Almost all of Malta’s current interest in offshore wind development is focused on the development of an offshore wind farm at Sikka L-Bajda in northwest Malta by 2020, to help the country reach its mandated 2020 RES target. The offshore wind industry is rapidly gaining momentum, with larger projects in deeper waters further offshore being commissioned every year. Countries like Germany and the United Kingdom have actively constructed, or are planning to construct, offshore wind farms at transitional water depths before 2020. The offshore wind energy market has historically been restricted to the North Sea, the Baltic Sea and the Irish Sea in northern Europe. This geographical barrier has been overcome with the officially commissioning of a wind farm near Shanghai Bridge in China. The industry is poised to expand into the Mediterranean in 2011 with the reported commissioning of Tricase wind farm in Italy. There is significant interest in bringing offshore wind to North America, particularly in the United States. In order to continue this healthy growth, many companies are developing foundation structures that are stable and cost-effective in deeper waters further offshore. On average, the winds are stronger, more consistent and wind farms further offshore avoid a number of planning and stakeholder issues. Since Maltese waters are very deep, the commercialization of deep water technologies could exponentially increase its wind energy potential. A systematic approach for evaluating offshore wind farm viability is proposed and tested on three offshore sites proposed in 2005 by the Malta Resources Authority. The system considers a number of technical, planning, environmental and socio-economic issues and rates a given proposal using a weighting system. The system predicted that is-Sikka L-Bajda is the most viable wind farm proposal in shallow waters in Malta. The wind resource was judged to be adequate and while there were some planning and environmental issues, these are probably relatively easy to mitigate through proper implementation of Marine Spatial Planning. The proposal at Benghajsa Patch was judged to be poorly positioned and would have too many planning issues to be a viable choice. The site at North of Gozo is of marginal capacity and has some grid connection and potential TV and communications issues, but it could be an excellent supplementary project in conjunction with that at is-Sikka L-Bajda. Since this result is consistent with other studies conducted in Malta, the methodology was judged to be sufficient for evaluating the viability of a wind farms, but requires refinement through a procedure of consultation exercises and questionnaires with experts, authorities, stakeholders and the general public.

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