With the Project:
Beirut River Solar Snake
The Beirut river solar snake is the first grid-connected pilot photovoltaic plant in Lebanon. Spanning 10,000 m2 above the Beirut river bed, the 1 MWp photovoltaic plant supplies green energy to the national network of the Lebanese electric utility Electricité du Liban (EDL) and will ensure the energy needs of around 10,000 households. The project has created an enormous momentum in the solar market in Lebanon, which has witnessed a remarkable increase by an average yearly growth rate of 95% in the cumulative installed photovoltaic capacity from 2010 to 2018.
Lebanon relies essentially on oil imports as its main resource for energy production. The electricity sector in the country has been facing many challenges for a long time, notably gaps between demand and supply, high technical and non-technical losses, and has to rely on unregulated electricity generation through diesel generators to overcome the electricity outages. In an attempt to mitigate the effects of climate change and the extensive pollution problems within cities in Lebanon, the Lebanese Government committed to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to increase the share of renewables in the country to 12% of the projected total electricity and heat demand in 2020.
The project was announced in 2012 and fully operational in 2015, which is aligned with the rapid intake of the photovoltaic market in Lebanon. In fact, this momentum directly started after launching the bid in 2012, where a remarkable 139% increase in installed capacity of photovoltaic systems in Lebanon was recorded between 2012 and 2013. Until June 2019, 5,427 MWh have been produced. Another key result was the creation of knowledge and capacity building in solar energy, both in the private and public sector. As a direct result, a 180 MW photovoltaic system bid was launched by the Ministry of Energy and Water, and initiatives to install more than 1.6 MWp in 10 different public buildings were announced.
Due to the lack of cheap and suitable space in the capital, the innovative idea behind the Beirut river solar snake project was to take advantage of the “unused” space above the Beirut river in order to supply green energy to the network through a step-up transformer. This was the only solution to install a large-scale photovoltaic farm in the middle of the city and to be large enough to attract attention and raise awareness on its potential. The width of the Beirut river is approximately 35 m, therefore, concrete beams spanning from one side of the river to the other, had to be constructed to carry the photovoltaic arrays. This was of course done without doing harm to the environment.
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