After writing about Beirut River Solar Snake project, couple days ago, my friend Najib blogged about ABC Ashrafieh Mall and their plan to install the largest private photovoltaic plant in Lebanon on their rooftop. The project will give ABC Mall a capacity of 0.45 MW that is enough to power its department store. You can read more about the project on this link. ABC Mall move is in the right direction and I hope all these new high rises that they are building in Beirut will adapt the same mentality and cut their need for electricity. The Beirut River Snake project will generate 1,655 megawatt-hours per year and will benefit the resident of Bourj Hammoud area.
Due to corruption and mismanagement, Lebanon been suffering from electricity supply shortage. According to Lebanese National News Agency, Lebanon production of electricity will stay at 1,500MW in 2015, while the demand for electricity during the peak summer will be around 2,800MW. Électricité Du Liban (EDL) deficit will exceed $21 billion. The alternative is solar and wind clean energy.
According to the United Nations development program (UNDP), Lebanon has around 300 sunny days in a year with over 8- 9 hours of daily sunshine. Solar energy presents a clean alternative that can, if properly designed, remove the need for diesel self-generation and lower the national utility electricity bill.
In addition, Lebanon is not taking advantage of Wind Power to generate electricity. I am aware of Akkar Wind Farm project but not sure if we have similar projects under study. According to a 2012 UNDP-CEDRO report, Lebanon has at least 1500 MW potential with a mean of 6,100 MW! In the past two years the technology advanced and probably Wind Power can generate more electricity these days.
Couple years ago, I was discussing ideas with a Lebanese business person and he had a good idea for Wind Power: The Maronite church is one of the biggest real estate owner in Lebanon. The church should be approached with a project that generates revenue. The church will give the land (or rent it), the private sector will invest in Wind Power stations and sell its production to EDL at a competitive price. The project will help supplying clean energy (instead of those diesel generators), fill in the gap in electricity production and generate money for the private sector as well as the Church. In return the church can use the money to help the poor.
It is a great idea, but it needs some lobbying to convince EDL to buy electricity. You may say it shouldn’t be that hard because in July 2012, Lebanon signed a $360 million three-year contract to lease electricity-generating barges from the Turkish firm. The two barges combined are expected to generate 270MW of electricity. Who will need these barges if we have alternative energy? But keep in mind that several powerful people mad money from this barges deal and others are making millions from the electrical generators companies.
By the way, I didn’t even talk about Lebanon average rainfall (1 meter annually). Not only Lebanon could be selling water to its neighbors but the country could be a major generator of clean electric power, sufficient for its own consumption and even to sell to others.
Yes we have few projects here and there but so far it’s not enough. Corruption and electricity mafia will do their best to shut down these initiatives but it shouldn’t be a reason not to push forward.