Lebanon’s Energy Crisis Rolls into a Solar Power Revolution

Solar panels

Coursing back to 2019, Lebanon’s economy was in shambles. After decades of corruption and mismanagement, it left a dent in the state struggling to cater to the electricity needs for more than an hour or two per day.

The current economic crisis in Lebanon is the worst, with 2020 seeing a default on the nation’s debt and the value of the currency plummeting. With the energy crisis crippling the country’s infrastructure and the daily lives of the Lebanese, citizens are finding new ways to manage.

With homes experiencing prolonged power outages, some areas see blackouts lasting up to 23 hours daily. Against this backdrop, many Lebanese have resorted to using pricey privately-owned diesel generators. However, there is little respite because the use of generators is complicated by the economic turmoil, which includes surging fuel prices. The surge is attributed to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, intensified by Lebanon’s weak currency, and the revocation of government subsidies.

Thus, as many Lebanese rely on costly generators for electricity, a growing number of houses, companies, and state institutions are turning to solar. The shift is not out of environmental concern but because it’s their only option.

Currently, solar panels are dotting rooftops and parking lots, powering entire villages, and even Beirut’s only functioning traffic lights, thanks to a local NGO. According to engineer Elie Gereige, solar energy was no longer an alternative but a necessity. Moreover, the village wouldn’t have any electricity if they hadn’t installed panels.

Lebanon set a goal of achieving around 12% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. However, experts state that this goal has likely not been met, given the collapse of the national power grid. Nevertheless, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) evaluates that Lebanon could source 30% of its electricity supply from renewable sources by 2030.

Sustainable electricity experts highlight that the Lebanese government needs to build new power plants, shut down inefficient old ones, and utilise renewable energy to provide 24-hour electricity at lower costs, reducing public spending and debt and increasing productivity. Plus, it would generate “green jobs” in the renewable energy sector and contribute to economic growth.