The Lebanon National Committee aims to promote sustainable energy development in Lebanon, as a part of the WEC’s energy vision. As a member of the WEC network, the organisation is committed to representing the Lebanese perspective within national, regional and global energy debates. The committee includes a variety of members to ensure that the diverse energy interests of Lebanon are appropriately represented. Members of the committee are invited to attend high-level events, participate in energy-focused study groups, contribute to technical research and be a part of the global energy dialogue.
Mr. El Khoury is the General Director and President of the Board at LCEC. Graduated from the American University of Beirut (AUB), he holds a Bachelor Degree in Electrical Engineering and a Master Degree in Engineering Management. He joined UNDP in 2005 to become a member of the LCEC project team. He became the project manager of the center by end of 2008. With the institutionalization of the LCEC in 2011, he headed the first Executive Board. He was appointed in 2010 by the Ministry of Energy and Water as member of the national committee responsible for the implementation of the “Policy Paper of the Electricity Sector” for Lebanon. He is the main writer of the National Energy Efficiency Action Plan for Lebanon (NEEAP), making Lebanon the first country in the Arab world to have such a plan. El Khoury is also the main developer of the concept of NEEREA, Lebanon’s national financing mechanism. He is the national representative of Lebanon in the Board of Trustees of the Regional Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (RCREEE). He is also Secretary of the World Energy Council (WEC) Lebanon Committee, the national focal point of IRENA, MSP, and many other initiatives.
Energy in Lebanon
Critical uncertainties and action priorities for energy leaders in Lebanon have evolved since the last Issues Monitor. Looking ahead to 2019, slower economic growth and the delay in forming a government are the main challenges facing Lebanon, while for energy leaders, key concerns are energy subsidies and decentralisation. These issues were previously marked as “Action Priorities” in the 2017 Issues Monitor. In the late 2017’s, the Lebanon Central Bank, Banque du Liban, suspended loans for subsidised housing due to unprecedented demand, which affected all subsidy schemes, including energy loans. The economy is flat lining, partly due to political uncertainty but also due to regional turmoil. The spill over of the conflict in Syria has strained the budget and infrastructure of the country. Lebanon is hosting around 1 million Syrian refugees and, according to UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, the 2019 budget forecasts the cost of supporting the refugees at 0.56 Billion USD, compared with 0.46 Billion USD in 2018.
An important shift was seen in commodity prices, previously an issue of the highest uncertainty, it has now become an action priority. A new action priority is electric storage, particularly in view of the move toward recentralisation and a more diversified energy mix. Renewable energy, energy efficiency and electricity prices remain action priorities. The predominant source of renewable energy in Lebanon and the one with the highest installed capacity is hydropower. The government is working actively to increase the share of solar and wind energy through Public-Private Partnerships (PPP). Once the Solar PV and wind farms under Power Purchase Agreements are operational, total installed capacity will rise to around 1 GW, divided almost equally between solar PV and wind. It is important to note that one of the solar PV farms under PPA includes a battery energy storage system for more grid stability, hence the heightened interest in electric storage.
The Lebanese economy has taken a hit because of domestic political instability as well as regional turmoil. GDP growth dropped from 1.5% in 2017, to 1% in 2018. The World Banks forecasts a GDP growth of 1.5% in 2019 and a population growth rate of 1.3%. Economic Growth is associated strongly with energy security. While the Lebanese government is taking strong action to narrow the gap between energy supply and demand, Lebanese consumers still rely on privately owned diesel generators for electricity supply. Having access to continuous and affordable energy is a key challenge due to its impact on growth in other sectors of the economy.
The energy sector in Lebanon is highly subsidised. Energy Subsidies are applied directly to oil products for final consumption and given to the national energy utility, Electricité du Liban (EDL), as a way to cut costs for the consumer. Subsidies were intended to benefit low-income groups, but higher income groups, which consume more energy, are the biggest beneficiaries. The highly subsidised fossil fuel prices are competing with renewable energy technologies, which is why the cost-competitiveness of renewables remains a topic of utmost importance for decision makers and energy leaders. Following BDL’s decision to suspend loans for subsidised housing due to unprecedented demand, all subsidy scheme have been negatively affected, including subsidised energy loans.
The issue of decentralised systems has moved from being an action priority to a critical uncertainty. Electricity shortage is an ongoing dilemma in Lebanon; outages are frequent all over the country. Despite the fact that Lebanon is moving towards more utility scale projects, specifically in Solar PV, the grid capability and stability is still impeding this development. The national electricity utility (EDL) is working towards upgrading the grid infrastructure to handle this extra capacity and maximize its use. As for the rooftop solar PV installations, they are coupled with either generators or battery storage, which make this application less critical.
Renewable energies in Lebanon lead the action priorities. An increase in investments in renewable energy technologies is expected due to efforts from the public and private sectors. Lebanon’s target is to reach 12% of renewable energy by 2020 and 15% by 2030. Renewable energy strategies are laid out in the National Renewable Energy Action Plan 2016-2020 (NREAP), an official document prepared by the Lebanese Centre for Energy Conservation (LCEC). State subsidies are helping to boost the deployment of renewable energy technologies by the private sector. The government has also launched several solar PV and wind energy projects under PPA agreements to help attain national goals.
Lebanon is keen to improve energy efficiency at the national level to reduce imports of petroleum products and to mitigate the impact of climate change. This is reflected in the National Energy Efficiency Action Plan 2016-2020 (NEEAP), also developed by the LCEC. NEEAP 2016-2020 targets demand-side management and specifies energy conservation measures and strategies in the different economic sectors. The implementation of energy efficiency measures will allow Lebanon to reach the INDC target of a 10% reduction in power demand by 2030.
In 2017, the economic viability of electricity storage was still debatable. However, it is now receiving greater attention from energy leaders, within the context of increased renewable energy penetration and the need to ensure a stable and secure grid supply. In the world Energy Issues Monitor 2019, electric storage is of great importance because it expands the role of renewable energy in the generation supply mix. This role of electric storage was further endorsed by the government when it launched an Expression of Interest (EOI) for solar PV farms with battery energy storage systems with a total capacity of 210-300 MWp.
Lebanon’s energy sector is improving thanks to the diversification of the energy mix. While the economy is growing at a slower pace, investments in renewable energy technologies are increasing at a remarkable rate. In parallel with private projects, the government is also providing enabling policies and is showing determination to reach national targets and combat climate change. Lebanon is also determined to diversify further its energy mix by including technologies such as Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) and bioenergy.