Renewable Energy Outlook: Lebanon

The Lebanese solar revolution - Executive Magazine


Country Background Geography
The Lebanese Republic is a sovereign state located in Western Asia adjoining the eastern edge of the Mediterranean region from the south along a 79 km border. It has a total territory of 10 452 km2, with a 225 km coast along the Mediterranean Sea that features a narrow coastal plain that is 6.5 km at its widest point and lies below the Lebanon Mountains, which rise to a maximum elevation of 3088 meters. The Bekaa Valley separates the Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon Mountains, with the latter rising to 2 814 m.


Primary energy supply
Lebanon relies on imports to satisfy its energy demand. In terms of primary
energy, consumption is met using the following six major components:
• liquid petroleum gas (LPG);
• gasoline;
• gas oil;
• kerosene;
• fuel oil; and
• bitumen

The only sources of energy produced domestically include solar water heaters (SWHs), hydro power plants and a minor solar PV contribution. In 2010, energy imports accounted for approximately 96.8% of primary supply, and only 3.2% was locally produced from hydroelectric power plants and SWHs. The share of primary energy imports did not change significantly
between 2010 and 2015, as political instability in the region prevented uninterrupted imports of natural gas, thus forcing various plants to rely on fuel oil.

Total primary energy supply by source (%)

Ongoing power sector reform
The Lebanese electricity sector has suffered since the mid-1990s, primarily due to a lack of investment that has led to the sharp deterioration of the sector’s infrastructure. Hence, EDL has not been able to satisfy national electricity demand alone – a situation that has led to the development of smaller private diesel generators who operate in an unofficial capacity in a parallel electricity market.The reduction in generation capacity has been amplified by poor maintenance and increased demand. Indeed, the recent influx of refugees to Lebanon has contributed to the increasing gap between electricity generation and demand, which reached 7 375 GWh in 2017.

Electricity generation mix in Lebanon, 2010
Installed capacity versus peak demand

Electricity demand was estimated in 2016 to be around 22 000 GWh (Electricité du Liban (EDL), 2018), marking an increase of 54.8% since 2010, when demand was estimated at 15 934 GWh (LCEC, 2010). However, annual electricity demand data adopted by the MEW vary between 3.8% and 5%; the difference is essentially caused by the demand calculation methodology
employed by EDL and the demand consequences of the significant increase in population over a short period. For consistency with MEW data, the updated policy paper estimates a demand increase of 3% by 2020.


Overview Renewable energy sources have largely been limited to biomass heating in
rural areas and hydroelectric power plants installed before the 1970s that represented more than 75% of the electricity produced in Lebanon at that time.

Renewable energy targets and policy framework
Targets In 2018, the Prime Minister announced a renewable target of 30% of electricity consumed by 2030, as reflected in the latest electricity reform paper adopted by the Lebanese government in 2019.

Renewable energy target resource mix in the NREAP 2016–2020

Renewable energy potential, status and driving policy instruments
Hydropower was the first form of renewable energy to be deployed in Lebanon and plays a major role in supplying renewable electricity to the country. However, low contracted prices and lack of maintenance and/ or refurbishment of hydropower plants have led to a continuous drop in the share of hydropower in the energy mix.

Hydroelectric targets and potential

In March 2018, the MEW launched an expression of interest (EOI) for the installation of hydroelectric power plants on various Lebanese rivers. The MEW received 25 EOIs from 59 companies from 15 different countries to install more than 300 MW. The main challenge lies in the fact that most of the existing concessions, except for the Litani River Authority concessions, are used exclusively for agricultural and irrigation purposes rather than hydropower generation.To promote hydropower in these concessions, the Lebanese government delegated the MEW to negotiate concessions as per the newly adopted electricity plan in 2019 to find an appropriate solution for the current situation.


The previous sections have outlined the energy context in Lebanon and provided a view of how the country’s energy landscape is likely to evolve over the coming years based on government plans and targets and the country’s energy strategy, including the NREAP (both 2016–2020 and 2016–2020 editions). IRENA’s REmap analysis, which is the focus of this section, provides an outlook for the potential of renewable energy in the country to 2030. It also highlights areas or sectors where the use of renewables could be scaled up.

Overview of the REmap approach

The steps involved in the REmap analysis for Lebanon presented in this chapter include:
• The definition of a base year selected to be the year 2014 due to data availability.
• The definition of a reference case 2030.
• The definition of a REmap case 2030.

Buildings In the buildings sector, final energy consumption grows from 72 petajoules (PJ) in the base year to 128 PJ in the reference case, mainly driven by electricity consumption which grows from 55 PJ in the base year to 95 PJ in the reference case. Oil and oil products come
in second place and grow from 16 PJ in the base year to 26 PJ in the reference case.

Final energy consumption in buildings (PJ)

Industry The Lebanese industrial sector in general has not experienced significant growth in recent years. Based on available data, the annual growth rate for thermal and electrical consumption is considered to be 0.1% for all industries except for the cement industry, where
an annual growth of around 2.4% in cement deliveries was detected.6 Accordingly, the growth of final energy consumption in industry is mainly driven by cement production. The consumption of oil and oil products for thermal purposes grows from 32 PJ in the base year to
around 40 PJ both in the reference and REmap cases, while electricity consumption grows from 15 PJ in the base year to 16 PJ.

Final energy consumption in industry (PJ)

Solar In the reference case, targeted solar PV capacity is expected to reach 1 030 MW, which corresponds to the major pipelined projects, all primarily based on public–private partnership (PPP) models. On top of that, the estimated installed capacity of decentralised solar PV projects, mainly driven by national financing mechanisms such as NEEREA, is expected to reach 150 MW. Another major solar related technology, CSP with storage, is expected to reach a total installed capacity of 100 MW on the same timeline. Accordingly, the total installed capacity of solar PV in terms of grid integrated farms, including PV with storage, decentralised projects
and CSP is expected to reach 1 280 MW in the proposed reference case.

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