Rows of Houses with Mediterranean-style Flat Roofs

Millions of people flock to Malta to get roasted by the intense sun, but the Mediterranean island struggles to hit its solar power goals.

Despite being one of the EU’s sunniest countries, Malta doesn’t have a lot of space. With 413,000 people crammed into only 316 square kilometers — the densest population in the EU — it’s difficult to find enough space to set up solar panels.

Malta must triple its solar power capacity by the end of the decade to meet its renewable energy targets, but it also has to make sure its solar power projects aren’t so ugly or intruding that they scare off lucrative tourists or cover up the country’s limited amount of agricultural land.

Overall, Malta is supposed to have 10 percent of its energy come from renewables by 2020, and its sluggish pace is alarming the European Commission, which called on the government “to assess whether their policies and tools are sufficient and effective in meeting their renewable energy objectives.”

Wind power isn’t a viable option because Maltese waters get very deep very quickly, a hurdle for offshore wind towers. Environmental concerns also played a big role in closing the door on the technology — a planned offshore wind farm was scrapped after an assessment found it would harm marine life. Onshore wind farms could have interfered with the island’s international airport, according to Malta’s updated renewable energy action plan.

Residential roofs provide another option, but drone footage over Malta shows rows of houses with Mediterranean-style flat roofs, with only the occasional glint of a solar installation. Space shades Malta’s solar power push – POLITICO