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"Lebanon has a culture of energy efficiency"

Special report 11th FEMIP conference

Written by Interview by Jenny Saleh in BEIRUT on Friday, December 6th 2013 à 10:00 | Read 1637 times


The Lebanese energy sector is attempting to make up ground in terms of energy efficiency. Interview with Pierre El Khoury, director of the Lebanese Center for Energy Conservation (LCEC), an organisation affiliated to the Lebanese Ministry of Energy and Water that is charged with drawing up energy efficiency strategies. This is no easy task in a country where the priority remains ensuring a round-the-clock power supply.

Pierre El Khoury, director of the Lebanese Center for Energy Conservation (photo J.Saleh)
Pierre El Khoury, director of the Lebanese Center for Energy Conservation (photo J.Saleh) : Tell us about the energy sector in Lebanon.
Pierre El Khoury: Lebanon imports 97% of its energy. Our annual energy bill is more than $4 billion (€2.95 billion), with 30% going on transport, 20% on households and the remaining 50% split between Electricité du Liban (EDL; the state-owned energy company) and the industrial, commercial and farming sectors.

In 2010, the Ministry of Energy and Water introduced an ambitious strategic plan aiming to ensure a round-the-clock power supply by 2015 and to end the current rationing, which can last up to 12 hours in some regions.
Lebanon is also awaiting plenty of gas exploration in the Mediterranean, but the situation is currently blocked for political reasons.

What are the major projects under way as part of this strategic plan?
We are working on restoring the existing power plants at Zouk, near Jounieh, where a new 700 MW unit is already in service, and at Jieh to the south of Beirut. In addition, two Turkish barges (Editor's note - floating power stations) are already generating 250 MW. Lebanon's current production capacity is 1,600 MW, but demand is estimated at 2,400 MW.

One of the plan's objectives is to generate 12% of electricity from renewable sources by 2020 by combining several technologies, including wind power, photovoltaic power, solar thermal energy, hydraulic energy and, to a lesser extent, geothermal and biomass energy.

With regard to wind power, for example, several projects are under way to generate 500 MW in Akkar, in the north, and in North Bekaa. We have received four submissions, which must be reviewed by the government. These would be joint ventures between Lebanese companies and international providers.

The sale of electricity is banned since it is the exclusive preserve of EDL, so a system of 'power rental agreements' has been put in place. A great deal of progress is being made, thanks in particular to the NEEREA (National Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Action) financing mechanism set up with the banks by the Bank of Lebanon , which has encouraged businesses and households to take an interest in energy efficiency.

Transport fails to embrace energy efficiency

How is that going?
The transport sector is the least active. All the others (manufacturing, real estate and construction) are making progress. There is a real culture of energy efficiency in Lebanon. Manufacturers have embraced the need to save energy, and many of them have turned to photovoltaic power. On the other hand, the building code needs to be amended, but that is not a priority for now. 

What about the projects supported by the EIB?
The EIB and the French Development Agency (AFD) have approved a new €65 million line of credit to support the NEEREA mechanism. We are just awaiting approval from the Lebanese parliament. The LCEC gets €5 million of technical assistance from the European Union.

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