Sunday Times of Malta, 9th November 2008, by Cynthia Busuttil –

Selected roads will remain in darkness at night as part of a government national energy efficiency drive.

Resources Minister George Pullicino told a news conference yesterday that retroreflective safety devices, like cat’s eyes, would be sufficient to ensure safety on little-used roads.

The energy plan aims to reduce overall energy consumption by nine per cent over the next eight years.

Plans also include a certification system for installers of photovoltaic panels and solar heaters to ensure the equipment is properly installed.

Meanwhile, petrol stations are being encouraged to give motorists simple energy-saving advice while the Malta Transport Authority and Enemalta are reviewing street lighting to eliminate waste.

Mr Pullicino said the use of energy-efficient domestic appliances and solar heaters is expected to save the country up to 26 gigawatt hours a year by 2010 – equivalent to more than the total energy used by 2,000 families in a year.

A pilot project to install smart meters, which read electricity and water consumption, will be launched in March, during which households will be offered an audit to help them conserve energy.

Enemalta chairman Alex Tranter said the meters would be installed in 2,500 households.

Explaining the National Energy Efficiency Action Plan, Malta Resources Authority chief executive Antoine Riolo said that while legislation was important, it was crucial to bring about a change in people’s behaviour.

This shift in behaviour was already taking place, the minister said. In fact, the sale of energy-efficient refrigerators and air conditioners had more than doubled between 2006 and last year thanks to rebates on appliances which encouraged people to go for more eco-friendly devices.

The scheme, which allowed consumers to request a 20 per cent discount to a maximum of €116.47 on the purchase of energy-efficient domestic appliances, was launched in November 2006 and the government has received some 45,000 applications.

“These figures are evidence of people’s attitude shift,” Mr Pullicino said.

However, the government has since withdrawn the incentive scheme – a move which has attracted widespread criticism.

Mr Pullicino said energy-saving measures had also been adopted by the Water Services Corporation, which used 4.6 per cent of electricity produced last year for the desalination of seawater – down from 11.1 per cent 10 years ago.