Our 12% Promise
In 2009′s COP15, Lebanon promised the world that by 2020, renewable energy would amount to 12% of Lebanon’s energy demands. It seems government after government since then has upheld that pledge, which honestly is extremely realistic for one simple reason: we can barely provide 62% of our energy demands, so you can only go up when adding renewable sources.
Where we currently stand
Lebanon needs 2400MW a day. EDL produces only 1500MW a day (274MW of which are from hydroelectric power plants). By 2020, we will need approximately 6700MW to power the nation, which means 12% is 804MW (of which we already have 274MW from hydro, and that’s not counting the solar-powered water heaters and other private initiatives to avoid using energy from the national grid).
Too easy a target
So, basically, if we maintain our hydro output, all we need to add is an extra 530MW. Based on studies, Lebanon has the potential to harvest up to a maximum of 6200MW from windfarms. However, given problems with land ownership and the actual electricity grid being horribly inefficient, outdated and tampered with, the best-case scenario would only be 1500MW. Even then, only 400MW is expected to actually be harvested from the windfarms.
Which brings our total in 2020 to: 274MW hydro + 400MW wind = 674MW from renewable energy sources. The remaining 130MW should be a cinch, if they actually repair existing dams and hydroelectric plants, that’s an extra 26MW with barely lifting a finger.
So, in conclusion, the 12% is very reasonable and easy by 2020. Already, the energy ministry announced today that 23 international companies expressed intent in investing in wind energy in Lebanon. So, give the corruption and bureaucracy a few years and we might start seeing wind turbines in our open fields or maybe even seas.
Let’s make it 19%
This, is perhaps an opportunity to press for a more ambitious 19-20% goal by 2020. I know it’s practically impossible, but we should set a real challenge for ourselves instead of take the easy way out just to be able to say that we met our pledges made in COP15. We can do it, it would help us in so many ways, namely cheaper energy, cleaner environment and less dependence on fossil fuels and energy imports (which constitute 98% of our energy consumption!)
Gas and Oil: The farfetched party-poopers
Unfortunately, with the prospect of natural gas and maybe oil off our coast, and the problems with Israel over border disputes, I’m afraid the focus has shifted to the much more delayed and ambitious fossil fuel and natural gas ambitions. Wind turbines aren’t as sexy as oil and gas to politicians and economists, but, realistically speaking, we won’t even begin to drill before 5 years, with only 30% success rate and barely any profit before at least a decade (well past 2020). So, I really hope and ask that we focus on renewables too. At least they’ll help us get through till the oil and gas actually comes out, and if and when it does, we can sell more of it to other countries since we’d have 20% of our energy needs covered practically for free.
Most facts and figures are courtesy of Al Bawaba