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Political row flares up over solar claims

The Gibraltar Government and GSD Opposition traded barbed exchanges over the solar panel project yesterday as the government was forced to defend the effectiveness of the installation.

This comes after the government outlined the results achieved thus far with the installation of solar panels in the New Harbour area.

Initiating the exchanges yesterday, the GSD questioned how much the installation had cost taxpayers as well as how the project had been awarded.

GSD spokesman for the environment, Trevor Hammond, further emphasised the importance of being realistic with regards to where Gibraltar is in terms of the progress it has made on energy renewables.

“We remain far from the 20% target set for next year,” Mr Hammond said citing Dr Cortes’ claims that 2% of Gibraltar’s power is being derived from renewables at peak times.

Mr Hammond said: “We of course encourage the government to continue to develop the provision of energy from renewable sources and have suggested to Dr Cortes that we meet as a matter of urgency to jointly plan our communities road map towards those challenging targets set in the unanimously agreed parliamentary motion on the global climate emergency.”

“In doing so it is important that we are realistic about where we are in terms of progress,” he said.

Some of the minister’s claims regarding the amount of energy produced by the New Harbours project don’t stand up to scrutiny, Mr Hammond added.

“It is clear that he has taken the opportunity to apply the style of smoke and mirrors mathematics that the Government normally reserve for their budget.”

But, hitting back, Dr Cortes restated that the plant had come at no cost to the government, in the same way as the Ecowave plant.

“Both followed expressions of interest by the relevant parties, which were the only ones which were progressed by the parties out of several that came forward and were entertained at the same time when it became clear back in 2012 that with the new government, Gibraltar was at last moving into renewables,” a government statement read.

Further hitting back at GSD questioning of the amount of solar power being produced, the Government said “once again Mr Hammond fails to listen or understand. It may be his Maths.”

“A plant that produces 800 kW (0.8mW) when an average figure for consumption is 28mW will, at the time it is producing, and if the consumption is 28 mW, be producing (0.8/28) x 100 = 2.86% of the power.”

“When, as is expected, the whole scheme produces 3mW, then the calculation reveals (3/28) x 100 = 10.71% of the power.”

“This is of course a lower percentage when compared to the maximum output of 42mW, which the Minister also pointed out at the press conference, but is nevertheless much more that has ever been produced before, and infinitely more than the GSD ever planned to produce (mathematically 0.8 divided by zero equals infinity).”

“Regarding the equivalent number of homes powered, this is calculated from an industry estimate of 15.78kWh daily consumption per household, considering that the amount produced by the plant is approximately 5500kWh per day. 550 divided by 15.78 equals 348.8 homes.”

“This is not a ‘best case scenario’. This is actual power being generated today,” the government insisted.

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