Lebanon turns to solar power as energy crisis deepens

Special Lebanon turns to solar power as energy crisis deepens
Considering lebanon’s long history of power outages, it is perhaps surprising that many lebanese are only now beginning to view solar power as an ideal solution to their energy issues. (Social media)
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Updated 18 June 2022

Lebanon turns to solar power as energy crisis deepens

Lebanon turns to solar power as energy crisis deepens
  • Lebanon has been regularly plunged into darkness recently because of skyrocketing fuel prices resulting from the increase in the dollar exchange rate

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s economic collapse means that the Lebanese people are now responsible for sourcing their own electricity for most of the day, every day. Many of them are now turning to solar power — previously seen as a luxury — as a solution.

Lebanese citizens do, at least, have some experience with securing their own power: For the past 40 years, the country’s patchy electricity supply has meant that 24-hour power was almost impossible to come by, so the majority of Lebanese are familiar with having to use private generators to access electricity during the country’s frequent power cuts.

Plans on which billions of dollars were spent were largely ruined by political disputes and, despite the warnings of the international community, the Ministry of Energy took no action to rectify the situation.

According to Bassam Mawlawi, minister of interior in Lebanon’s caretaker government, the ministry had to pay $160,000 to secure electricity for the parliamentary elections that took place last month.

Lebanon has been regularly plunged into darkness recently because of skyrocketing fuel prices resulting from the increase in the dollar exchange rate. The situation was exacerbated when the Lebanese state began to remove fuel subsidies and international fuel prices rose because of the Russian-Ukrainian war. Along with an increase in network failures, infrastructure theft has only made things worse.

Considering Lebanon’s long history of power outages, it is perhaps surprising that many Lebanese are only now beginning to view solar power as an ideal solution to their energy issues.

Travel around Beirut, the surrounding mountains and the Bekaa valley, and you will now see solar panels on many rooftops and balconies — even though the internal security forces have repeatedly warned against setting up solar panels without an agreement between building residents, in an attempt to limit disputes.

But since solar energy allows people to be self-sufficient and spares them the costs of private generators — the fees for which can be prohibitively expensive since there is no real oversight of the industry — those warnings are falling on deaf ears.

Hassan, a resident in Beirut’s southern suburbs, said, “A private generator subscription of 10 amperes amounts to 9 million Lebanese pounds per month — a figure that only the affluent can afford.”

The output from solar panels varies, starting at five amperes for a one-off payment of between $2,000 and $2,500. The cost rises as the output increases and can reach around $5,000.

Hassan said that, thanks to solar power, he is now able to power his lighting, fridge, fan and washing machine. “However,” he added, “the air conditioner is now part of the home décor, unless the state provides us with half an hour of power.”

Many shops in Beirut are now selling solar-powered fans and lightbulbs for under $100. Ahmad, who owns a shop in Beirut’s Cornish El-Mazraa, said his stock of such items is usually sold within two days, “although the price of one fan reaches $80.”

“The sales volume exceeded all expectations,” he said. “This fan, once fully charged, works for about four hours at medium speed.”

Attorney Saleh Sleiman told Arab News that around 70 percent of the residents in his hometown — Bednayel, in Bekaa — now rely on solar energy. “Some people borrowed money to cover the cost of installing panels. Others used gold as collateral to secure a loan,” he said.

The Housing Bank has launched a ‘solar energy loan,’ ranging from 75 million to 200 million Lebanese pounds, which can be repaid over five years with an interest rate of five percent. Hezbollah has also provided people with loans through the US-sanctioned Al-Qard Al-Hasan Association.

Lebanese banks, however, have so far provided few initiatives to help people during the energy crisis.


Iraq extends Lebanon fuel deal for 1 year

Iraq extends Lebanon fuel deal for 1 year
Updated 13 sec ago

Iraq extends Lebanon fuel deal for 1 year

Iraq extends Lebanon fuel deal for 1 year

BEIRUT: Iraq’s government has agreed to continue supplying Lebanon’s electricity company with heavy fuel oil for another year, Lebanon’s caretaker prime minister said on Thursday, alleviating pressure on Lebanon’s struggling power grid.

Najib Mikati said he had made the request to Iraq’s Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhemi, who agreed to extend the same terms of the agreement signed last year.

In July 2021, Iraq offered the cash-strapped Lebanese government 1 million tons of heavy fuel oil a year in exchange for services including healthcare for Iraqi citizens.

The deal was meant to alleviate Lebanon’s acute power shortage, which last summer reached crisis levels when the government was unable to subsidize fuel imports.

Lebanon subsequently removed those subsidies and domestic fuel prices skyrocketed. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine then further bumped up international prices this year.

With the government unable to provide fuel to public power plants, most homes in the country have been left without state-provided electricity for around 22 hours every day.


Egypt In-Focus — Annual headline inflation rises 1%; M&A activity amounts to $3.2bn in H1


Egypt In-Focus — Annual headline inflation rises 1%; M&A activity amounts to $3.2bn in H1

Updated 5 min 42 sec ago

Egypt In-Focus — Annual headline inflation rises 1%; M&A activity amounts to $3.2bn in H1


Egypt In-Focus — Annual headline inflation rises 1%; M&A activity amounts to $3.2bn in H1


CAIRO: Egypt’s annual headline inflation rose to 15.6 percent in July, up from 14.6 in June, according to the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics.

CAPMAS attributed the rise in inflation to the increase in food and beverage prices that grew by 23.8 percent, along with growth in commodity and services prices.

M&A activity

Egypt reported a total of 65 mergers and acquisitions deals, valued at $3.2 billion, during the first six months of 2022, according to the EY MENA M&A Insights report.

Deal activity has surged thrice year-on-year during the first half of 2022. The report attributed the surge to “favorable government initiatives including granting a special license to foreign investors.” 

Port agreements

Egypt on Thursday signed two initial agreements for the development of port facilities with Hutchison Ports, Cosco and CMA CGM, Reuters reported citing a Cabinet statement.

The agreements with the international consortium could see investments of up to 800 million, it added.

Gas consumption 

Egypt has launched a plan to rationalize gas consumption in electricity plants in a bid to save foreign currency and achieve financial returns from gas export, according to Daily News Egypt. 

 


Oil rises as IEA hikes 2022 demand growth forecast

Oil rises as IEA hikes 2022 demand growth forecast
Updated 43 min 19 sec ago

Oil rises as IEA hikes 2022 demand growth forecast

Oil rises as IEA hikes 2022 demand growth forecast

LONDON: Oil prices rose by over 1 percent on Thursday after the International Energy Agency raised its oil demand growth forecast for this year as soaring natural gas prices lead some consumers to switch to oil.

Brent crude futures gained $1.29, or 1.3 percent, to $98.69 a barrel by 1348 GMT, while US West Texas Intermediate crude futures rose $1.45, or 1.6 percent, to $93.38.

“Natural gas and electricity prices have soared to new records, incentivizing gas-to-oil switching in some countries,” the Paris-based agency said in its monthly oil report, in which it raised its outlook for 2022 demand by 380,000 barrels per day.

By contrast, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries on Thursday cut its 2022 forecast for growth in world oil demand, citing the economic impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, high inflation and efforts to contain the pandemic.

OPEC expects 2022 oil demand to rise by 3.1 million bpd, down 260,000 bpd from the previous forecast. However, it still sees a higher overall global oil demand figure than the IEA for 2022.

A rise in US oil inventories last week and the resumption of crude flows on a pipeline supplying central Europe capped further price gains.

US crude oil stocks rose by 5.5 million barrels in the most recent week, the US Energy Information Administration said, more than the expected increase of 73,000 barrels.

Gasoline product supplied rose in the most recent week to 9.1 million barrels per day, though that figure shows demand down 6 percent over the last four weeks compared with the year-ago period.

The premium for front-month WTI futures over barrels loading in six months’ time was pegged at $4.38 a barrel on Thursday, the lowest in four months, indicating easing tightness in prompt supplies.

The resumption of flows on the southern leg of the Russia-to-Europe Druzhba pipeline further calmed market worries over global supply.


Egypt to ration electricity to boost gas exports

Egypt to ration electricity to boost gas exports
Updated 52 min 50 sec ago

Egypt to ration electricity to boost gas exports

Egypt to ration electricity to boost gas exports

CAIRO: Egypt’s Cabinet has approved a plan to ration electricity to save natural gas that it will instead divert to the export market to generate foreign currency, it said on Thursday.

Egypt has suffered from an acute foreign currency shortage since Russia's February invasion of Ukraine, which pushed up global commodity prices, led to the collapse of tourism from the two countries and drove up the cost of borrowing.

Under the draft plan, shops and malls will have to limit their use of strong lights and keep their air conditioning at no cooler than 25 degrees Celsius.

Ministries and government facilities will have to turn off lighting at the end of working hours, the statement added. Street lighting will also be reduced.

The government last month postponed a planned increase in electricity prices by six months. The higher prices would have been intensely unpopular among a population that over the last few years has endured a series of harsh austerity measures.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said the government hoped to reduce the amount of gas used to generate electricity by 15 percent. He said domestic power plants bought their natural gas at one-tenth the price that it could fetch on international markets.

Europe has been seeking alternative sources of gas to cut its reliance on Russian gas as the war in Ukraine escalates.

Rapid growth in Egypt’s natural gas supplies, boosted by the discovery of the Mediterranean’s largest field, turned it from a net importer to an exporter in late 2018.

Egypt exported 9.45 million cubic meters of liquid natural gas in the first seven months of 2022, up 44 percent from a year earlier, according to Refinitiv data. 


Ethiopia starts power generation from second turbine at mega-dam

Ethiopia starts power generation from second turbine at mega-dam
Updated 11 August 2022

Ethiopia starts power generation from second turbine at mega-dam

Ethiopia starts power generation from second turbine at mega-dam

RIYADH: Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed kickstarted electricity production from the second turbine at its controversial mega-dam on the Blue Nile on Thursday, despite continuing objections by Egypt and Sudan over the project, according to AFP.

Abiy also confirmed that a third filling of the multi-billion dollar Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam was under way, a development that led Egypt last month to protest to the UN Security Council.

Thursday’s move came even though there is still no agreement between Ethiopia and its downstream neighbors Egypt and Sudan about the GERD’s operations.

Abiy insisted that the third filling of the $4.2 billion dam — set to be the largest hydroelectric scheme in Africa — was not causing any water shortages for the two countries.

“We have repeatedly told downstream countries, especially Egypt and Sudan, that by generating power we’re developing our economy, as well as (our desire) to see our citizens who live in the dark see light,” he said.

There was “no aim to sideline and harm” those countries, he added.

Ethiopia first began generating electricity at the dam in February. Currently, the two turbines, out of a total of 13 at the dam, are generating 750 megawatts of electricity.

We are ready to face all scenarios after Ethiopia completes the third filling phase of the Renaissance Dam, and we expect an unprecedented rise in the Nile waters after the gates of the dam are opened, the Sudanese Minister of Irrigation Yasser Abbas told Asharq.