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.


OPEC+ trims 2022 market surplus projection to 1m bpd -report

OPEC+ trims 2022 market surplus projection to 1m bpd -report
Updated 15 sec ago

OPEC+ trims 2022 market surplus projection to 1m bpd -report

OPEC+ trims 2022 market surplus projection to 1m bpd -report

LONDON: The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, known as OPEC+, trimmed its projected 2022 oil market surplus to 1 million barrels per day, down from 1.4 million bpd previously, a report seen by Reuters showed.

The report was prepared ahead of a meeting of the OPEC+ Joint Technical Committee scheduled to take place on Tuesday. 


Saudi IT firm solutions secure $267m for acquisition of Egypt’s Giza Systems

Saudi IT firm solutions secure $267m for acquisition of Egypt’s Giza Systems
Updated 11 min 49 sec ago

Saudi IT firm solutions secure $267m for acquisition of Egypt’s Giza Systems

Saudi IT firm solutions secure $267m for acquisition of Egypt’s Giza Systems

RIYADH: IT firm solutions by stc, a unit of Saudi Telecom Co., has obtained Shariah-compliant banking facilities worth SR1 billion ($267 million).

Formally known as Arabian Internet and Telecommunication Services Co., the firm signed the financing deals with Saudi National Bank, according to a bourse filing.

Proceeds from the facilities, with a duration of one and five years, will partly be used to fund the recent acquisition of Egypt’s Giza Systems.

solutions by stc had earlier acquired 89.5 percent of Giza Systems, in addition to 34 percent of Giza Arabia, a subsidiary of Giza Systems, in a $158 million deal.


Saudi contracting firm number reaches 165K as projects value crossed $5.3tln  

Saudi contracting firm number reaches 165K as projects value crossed $5.3tln  
Updated 13 min 8 sec ago

Saudi contracting firm number reaches 165K as projects value crossed $5.3tln  

Saudi contracting firm number reaches 165K as projects value crossed $5.3tln  

RIYADH: The number of companies operating in Saudi Arabia’s contracting sector has crossed 165,000, with small to large enterprises employing 3 million workers, Saudi Press Agency reported citing the Saudi Contractors Authority.  

The contracting sector employs workers from various professions, with more jobs being localized under legislative efforts, chairman of the board of directors of the Saudi Contractors Authority, Zakariya Al-Abdulqader said.

The value of projects in the contracting sector over the past five years totaled SR20 trillion ($5.3 trillion), demonstrating its importance and its developmental role, the head of the National Committee for Contractors in the Federation of Saudi Chambers, Hamad Al-Hammad said.


NEOM’s energy plant first to produce green hydrogen in commercial quantities, says expert

NEOM’s energy plant first to produce green hydrogen in commercial quantities, says expert
Updated 23 min 35 sec ago

NEOM’s energy plant first to produce green hydrogen in commercial quantities, says expert

NEOM’s energy plant first to produce green hydrogen in commercial quantities, says expert

RIYADH: The hydrogen plant in NEOM, Saudi Arabia's $500-billion futuristic city, will be the first of its kind to produce green hydrogen at a level that can be sold, according to Alicia Eastman, co-founder and managing director at Intercontinental Energy. 

“I think NEOM is going to be the first plant to produce green hydrogen in commercial quantities,” said Eastman while speaking at a virtual conference during the MENA Energy Week.

Eastman added that Intercontinental Energy is working together with countries in the Middle East to assist them in providing green hydrogen, and to deliver green ammonia. 

“Our focus is on large projects. We have signed a memorandum of understanding with Saudi Aramco to make both blue and green hydrogen. I look forward to seeing Aramco materializing their plans in hydrogen,” she further added. 

Eastment also made it clear that digital solutions and the adoption of technology are very much needed to go sustainable in the future. 


Aramco exploring options to reduce cost of hydrogen production, says official

Aramco exploring options to reduce cost of hydrogen production, says official
Updated 26 min 6 sec ago

Aramco exploring options to reduce cost of hydrogen production, says official

Aramco exploring options to reduce cost of hydrogen production, says official

RIYADH: Transition to low-carbon alternatives including green and blue hydrogen demands huge investments and a marketplace that needs collaboration between different nations, said Nabil Nuaim, Saudi Aramco’s chief digital officer.

While speaking at a virtual conference during the MEA Energy Week, Nuaim said that Saudi Aramco, being a carrier, needs to optimize the projects and make them cost-efficient.

He also added that energy generation using green hydrogen is still in the adoption phase.

Nuaim further noted that digital transformation is very much necessary to enable a hydrogen economy, where Aramco will supply and become a source of fuel.

“Hydrogen has a huge significance in the energy sector. It is a very good energy source. It has a significant energy value in the transportation sector,” he said.

Nuaim also said that Aramco is looking at options to reduce the cost of hydrogen production and transport, and the company is checking whether existing pipelines and infrastructure are sufficient enough for the future.

He added: “We are involved with blue hydrogen with very specific targets. Transportation of the fuel is very important, and the safety should be checked and assured.”