The recent proposal to install 22,000 panels at Maghtab seems pretty attractive for Malta. While indeed this decision is likely to yield more good than cause harm, nothing in this world is perfect and without an opportunity cost to consider. Some issues will inevitably surround such projects and this brings with it several concerns.
Our first point for discussion is the issue of visual impacts. This largely depends on the type of panels used. Photovoltaic (Solar) Panels may have a high level of reflection, which could have an impact on wildlife, including birds which are attracted by these areas of panels because they mistake them for water bodies, which may result in injuries or death. But also humans may be negatively affected by the farm. Could the solar farm reflect light into drivers paths, say on the Coast Road, thus causing an obstruction to drivers? Another visual impact that might arise is that due to power lines needed to transport energy. We hope this won’t be the case and call for the authorities to carry out a visual impact assessment if such power lines are required.
Speaking of Power Lines; centralised energy generation isn’t always ideal to the energy losses it incurs. Therefore it’s always better to set up solar panels directly at the place of consumption whereby this will keep energy losses at a minimal.
Finally we would also like to inquire why the area earmarked for the solar farm won’t be used for landscaping purposes as originally planned. While it is completely understandable that the place cannot be used as a recreational area for the public due to safety reasons it would still be a good idea to make use of landscaping techniques to improve the visual aspect of the old landfill.
Overall, we from ADŻ Malta Green Youth welcome the proposal of a solar farm at Magħtab due to the past landuse of the site. It seems like benefits will outweigh the costs but it is still too early in the day to make such judgements.