Electricity Shortages In Lebanon: What Can Be Done.

Share:

By Ghassan Karam

Since the beginning of civilized society the concept of “solus populi: – the well being of the people- has provided the strongest justification for the existence of government.     Well being is a difficult concept to define but it is agreed that a major component of well being of a nation is to be seen through the unencumbered accessibility to what is regarded essential requirements; food, shelter, clean water, education, physical security and essential utilities such as electricity.

As it should be obvious, based on the above brief list the Lebanese state has not been able to deliver on most of what is expected of it but especially electricity. Although this problem of electric power shortages has plagued the Lebanese society for over two decades the current outlook is for greater rationing and for no end to to what has arguably become a symbol of the incompetence of the Lebanese authorities to deal with what arguably appears to be a rather simple problem to overcome.

It is rather ironic that the Lebanese authorities who are obsessed with the idea of promoting Lebanon as a major tourist destination have failed to undertake any significant effort to supply the electric power needed to run the air conditioners in the luxury apartment buildings that can be seen all across the capital, Beirut and its environs.  That is similar to selling internal combustion engines although one cannot deliver the petrol needed to have these engines run.

To make things even worse than what they are the Lebanese state saddles its citizens with the triple burdens of (1)electric rationing (2) high cost and highly polluting private electric supplemental power and (3) a subsidy of 5% of the GDP to an inefficient badly run and managed electricity producing and delivery sector.

A solution to what ails this sector in Lebanon must take the following points into consideration:

A.      The overall capacity of about 2200 MW is not sufficient even if it was to be devoted only to residential demand. On the surface it might appear that 2200 MW are adequate but that does not take into consideration the single most important fact about electric generation: Capacity Factor. Fossil fuel plants, when properly run and maintained do not operate above 75% of their capacity and so my guess is that the Lebanese fossil fuel generators barely achieve 60% of capacity. This would automatically reduce the availability of electricity to about 1300 MW.

B.      Each 100MW at 60% Load Factor produces about 5.2 Billion KWH/annum. If it is assumed that each Household requires 1200KWH/month then the maximum number of units that can be served would be 800,000 homes. If we are further to assume that the 4.5 million Lebanese live in 800,000 homes then who is to provide electric power to industry and municipalities to light the streets?

But what does the rather severe restriction on capacity have to do with a subsidy of around $1.2 billion a year? A public utility, in most countries of the world, either breaks even or makes a profit so why this huge annual deficit generated by the EDL, Electricity of Lebanon.? The answer to the above is a combination of inability to collect the revenues that are due but most importantly it is due to the antiquated and archaic rates structure that is in use. The present fee schedule for residential demand is the following:

First 100 KWH……o.o23 dollars

Next 200KWH……o.o36 dollars

Next 100 KWH…..0.053 dollars

Next 100 KWH…..o.080 dollars

Over 500 KWH….0.133 dollars

This schedule was established in the early 1990’s when the price of oil was less than a quarter of its current price. No wonder EDL runs at a huge deficit of over $100 million each month.

Proposed solutions

The Lebanese government is under the obligation to fix this hugely important sector ASAP. Some steps that would move the country significantly in that direction are the following:

(i)                  A 5-10 cents increase per KWH must be phased in. This measure will lead to a more efficient use of the available electricity and would reduce or even eliminate the subsidy of 5% of GDP.

(ii)                Institute an efficient collection system from all customers.

(iii)               Transform the current production facilities to run on natural gas. This will reduce CO2 emissions and will result in greater efficiencies.

(iv)              Construct an additional 1000-1500MW capacity

(v)                Encourage conservation through demand management, and through promoting clean renewable energy.

(vi)              Allow private electric production companies who will distribute through EDL but phase out the small scale inefficient and highly polluting private generators.

Share:

Comments

39 responses to “Electricity Shortages In Lebanon: What Can Be Done.”

  1. Something I have always wondered about and thought should actually be considered for a way to help the electricity sector in Lebanon is renewable power sources.

    Their are many advantages of why having it in Lebanon

    A) Decentralized power generation which is harder for Israel to attack.

    B) Lebanon is one of the countries that has the sea along the entire country and sunshine along the year.

    C) Although expensive to implement can certainly reduce the overall cost of electricity and many countries would be willing to donate for such a structure.

    1. Ghassan Karam Avatar
      Ghassan Karam

      Tim,

      As a committed environmentalist I am very much in favour of renewable energy and I have written a few posts about it in the past. I believe that Lebanon should encourage PV and Wind turbines off shore.

    2. Ghassan Karam Avatar
      Ghassan Karam

      Tim,

      As a committed environmentalist I am very much in favour of renewable energy and I have written a few posts about it in the past. I believe that Lebanon should encourage PV and Wind turbines off shore.

  2. I am not especially knowledgeable on these matters. However, I am aware of some great technologies developed in Poland that not only generate electricity from incinerating garbage, but also produce brick-like material from the pollutants in the process (which can be used in construction). The mounds of garbage across our coast can be useful!

  3. I am not especially knowledgeable on these matters. However, I am aware of some great technologies developed in Poland that not only generate electricity from incinerating garbage, but also produce brick-like material from the pollutants in the process (which can be used in construction). The mounds of garbage across our coast can be useful!

  4. Sebouh,

    I am totally opposed to nuclear power plants anywhere in the world. We just do not know what to do with the nuclear waste.

    Solar thermal has major limitations in Lebanon a %00 MW requires around 1000 Hectares of land and that is only one third of the additional capacity that we need.

    The best short term solution for Lebanon is to conserve by raising rates, transform the present capacity to natural gas and build additional Wind powered capacity off shore in addition to a new efficient 1000 MW powered by natural gas. Better maintenanace in order to increase the load factor to 75% is the easiest and least expensive way to increase availability of elecric power in Lebanon.

  5. Sebouh,

    I am totally opposed to nuclear power plants anywhere in the world. We just do not know what to do with the nuclear waste.

    Solar thermal has major limitations in Lebanon a %00 MW requires around 1000 Hectares of land and that is only one third of the additional capacity that we need.

    The best short term solution for Lebanon is to conserve by raising rates, transform the present capacity to natural gas and build additional Wind powered capacity off shore in addition to a new efficient 1000 MW powered by natural gas. Better maintenanace in order to increase the load factor to 75% is the easiest and least expensive way to increase availability of elecric power in Lebanon.

  6. Ghassan,

    Yes space is a requirement for solar but that can be simple to accomplish it just needs a little creativity in planning. For example: buildings rooftops, highway centers and side barriers, desert areas …etc.

    You can also consider other alternatives such as sea tide turbines, wind farms… also something Lebanon has always been wealthy of rivers. For gods sake the litani project is still incomplete!

    Regarding nuclear I personally think its one of the cleanest viable alternatives, but I doubt this would ever be implented simply because of the region.

    Even natural gas engines as much as they are being daunted as the savers and friendly. The only reason I would think they are viable is if we get the gas from the Mediterranean.

  7. Ghassan,

    Yes space is a requirement for solar but that can be simple to accomplish it just needs a little creativity in planning. For example: buildings rooftops, highway centers and side barriers, desert areas …etc.

    You can also consider other alternatives such as sea tide turbines, wind farms… also something Lebanon has always been wealthy of rivers. For gods sake the litani project is still incomplete!

    Regarding nuclear I personally think its one of the cleanest viable alternatives, but I doubt this would ever be implented simply because of the region.

    Even natural gas engines as much as they are being daunted as the savers and friendly. The only reason I would think they are viable is if we get the gas from the Mediterranean.

  8. These are some rough figures that you can use for making estimates. It is possible to build a 50MW wind turine farm in under two yearsat a cost of arund $1.2-1.5 million per MW. There are large scale turbines that can generate as much as 4-5 MW per turbine and so one can envision a wind farm off shore with about 100 turbines and a capacity of over 400 MW. My estimate is that would need to be built on the equivalent of around 50 square kilometers.

    Keep in mind that wind generated electricity usually has a low load factor of about 30%-35%

  9. These are some rough figures that you can use for making estimates. It is possible to build a 50MW wind turine farm in under two yearsat a cost of arund $1.2-1.5 million per MW. There are large scale turbines that can generate as much as 4-5 MW per turbine and so one can envision a wind farm off shore with about 100 turbines and a capacity of over 400 MW. My estimate is that would need to be built on the equivalent of around 50 square kilometers.

    Keep in mind that wind generated electricity usually has a low load factor of about 30%-35%

  10. You know? One would beg to ask the question. Does the government cut the electricity off on everyone equally or is dependent on what area and how rich it is? It appears that the mid to lower class folks like us… have the power cut off every day for few hours. Does the government palace get their electricity cut off? Or does the government offices loose power? Shame on such system. The bare minimum needs can not be met in Lebanon… how sad is that? Thank God most places have back up generators. But what happens to the places that do not? I remember when I was a kid and we would lose power while in the elevator. Back then we did not have a back-up generator, we would have to climb out of the elevator on an uneven level.

    Hopefully there is a plan in place that will solve this and it would stop ridiculing us in front of all other countries.

    1. ME,

      If they (government)has a plan they they sure are taking their time aren’t they:-). This problem will get to be worst before it gets to bebetter. Even if a major construction project is to get started tomorrow it will not come on line for a couple of years. Brace for the worst .

    2. ME,

      If they (government)has a plan they they sure are taking their time aren’t they:-). This problem will get to be worst before it gets to bebetter. Even if a major construction project is to get started tomorrow it will not come on line for a couple of years. Brace for the worst .

  11. You know? One would beg to ask the question. Does the government cut the electricity off on everyone equally or is dependent on what area and how rich it is? It appears that the mid to lower class folks like us… have the power cut off every day for few hours. Does the government palace get their electricity cut off? Or does the government offices loose power? Shame on such system. The bare minimum needs can not be met in Lebanon… how sad is that? Thank God most places have back up generators. But what happens to the places that do not? I remember when I was a kid and we would lose power while in the elevator. Back then we did not have a back-up generator, we would have to climb out of the elevator on an uneven level.

    Hopefully there is a plan in place that will solve this and it would stop ridiculing us in front of all other countries.

  12. The irony is that residences in LBN are willing to pay private mom and pop producer of electricity the like of $50 to-$150 per month for few hours of use per day, with health, safety, and environmental (HSE) consequences and not force the issue to have privately owned and ligate power plants with EHS in mind and 24/7 electricity be the choice ( I know it is bigger than that, easy said than done). I agree with Mr. Karam suggestions i to vi, however there need to start educating the masses on power waste utilizations ,starting with simple lighting; in many houses a light can consume 1- to 2KW and that goes to old utilities, ect. These inefficient consumption of power generation are one of the many drivers that make power availability an ill fact.

    1. Jamil,

      You have touched on the biggest irony of them all. Private households will be glad to pay that additional $50-$100 per month for a reliable energy source. BTW, the same thing is true of water, households pay the government for water and then they pay private delivery firms for more water.When would the government learn that it has a duty to deliver basic services.

    2. Jamil,

      You have touched on the biggest irony of them all. Private households will be glad to pay that additional $50-$100 per month for a reliable energy source. BTW, the same thing is true of water, households pay the government for water and then they pay private delivery firms for more water.When would the government learn that it has a duty to deliver basic services.

  13. The irony is that residences in LBN are willing to pay private mom and pop producer of electricity the like of $50 to-$150 per month for few hours of use per day, with health, safety, and environmental (HSE) consequences and not force the issue to have privately owned and ligate power plants with EHS in mind and 24/7 electricity be the choice ( I know it is bigger than that, easy said than done). I agree with Mr. Karam suggestions i to vi, however there need to start educating the masses on power waste utilizations ,starting with simple lighting; in many houses a light can consume 1- to 2KW and that goes to old utilities, ect. These inefficient consumption of power generation are one of the many drivers that make power availability an ill fact.

  14. moustapha Avatar

    I guess this maybe redirect the subject. But have any of you heard geneticly restructured E-Coli bacteria in which 5 of its genes have been removed in order to make it a source that makes hydrogen by supplying it with sugar.

    Still figuring out the practical approach of having huge bacteria farms and where to get all the sugar from. But if it gets completed then it will create 140 times the amount then from a normal process.

    I heard though many enviromentalist criticize it because it is envolving a bacteria and you might affect a living creature =)

    Anyway i say the first thing is upgrade to natural gas since we might have some on our coasts even though it might be better for us to sell it then to use it our selves but its a win win situation since it produces more efficiently and in quantity perspective.

    the next thing to be done is to UPGRADE our internet bandwidth so that the government can start collecting online their needed bills 😀

    third wind farm on off shores of Lebanon

    I heard there is a University in Lebanon which will play as all out role model for green energy. It will all be renewable energy based.

    I honestly don’t see why they cant make solar thermal parks and yes with a lil creativity it might be the easiest cheapest way to go.

  15. moustapha Avatar

    I guess this maybe redirect the subject. But have any of you heard geneticly restructured E-Coli bacteria in which 5 of its genes have been removed in order to make it a source that makes hydrogen by supplying it with sugar.

    Still figuring out the practical approach of having huge bacteria farms and where to get all the sugar from. But if it gets completed then it will create 140 times the amount then from a normal process.

    I heard though many enviromentalist criticize it because it is envolving a bacteria and you might affect a living creature =)

    Anyway i say the first thing is upgrade to natural gas since we might have some on our coasts even though it might be better for us to sell it then to use it our selves but its a win win situation since it produces more efficiently and in quantity perspective.

    the next thing to be done is to UPGRADE our internet bandwidth so that the government can start collecting online their needed bills 😀

    third wind farm on off shores of Lebanon

    I heard there is a University in Lebanon which will play as all out role model for green energy. It will all be renewable energy based.

    I honestly don’t see why they cant make solar thermal parks and yes with a lil creativity it might be the easiest cheapest way to go.

  16. Moustapha,

    I truly believe in what you have suggested above, though the minds of the majorities in LBN will not get it for now. WE HAVE MANY MANY problems and it is time to start building these minds!

  17. Moustapha,

    I truly believe in what you have suggested above, though the minds of the majorities in LBN will not get it for now. WE HAVE MANY MANY problems and it is time to start building these minds!

  18. We need to have a comprehensive energy plan which include all potential source in order to employ our full energy potential.

    1. moustapha Avatar

      Straight forward and simple. What needs to be said in a nut shell. Hope your doing well Khaye Mark.

    2. moustapha Avatar

      Straight forward and simple. What needs to be said in a nut shell. Hope your doing well Khaye Mark.

  19. You all know who Nikola Tesla is right?

    Nikola Tesla invented the Alternating Current, he also began construction on the Tesla Tower which would have used the ionosphere to provide free unlimited,perfectly clean,environmentally friendly, and renewable energy to the entire planet.

    However this project funding was cut short by JP Morgan and General Electric, who prefered Thomas Edison’s project; which created a monopoly on electricity and made a profit for Morgan and the General Electric company.

    Now we realize that we cannot continue with the combustion/fossil fuel based, non renewable, dirty energy that we have become accustomed to for all of our energy needs, we need to return to the clean Nikola Tesla technologies for the future of the entire planet.

    1. Karim,

      I am not an EE but I believe that the Tesla Tower idea had nothing to do about generating electricity. It was an idea about wirelss transmission. Many are still working on that notion but it has numerous major obstacles. Ex. Receiver and sender must be in direct unobstructed line of vision.

    2. Karim,

      I am not an EE but I believe that the Tesla Tower idea had nothing to do about generating electricity. It was an idea about wirelss transmission. Many are still working on that notion but it has numerous major obstacles. Ex. Receiver and sender must be in direct unobstructed line of vision.

  20. You all know who Nikola Tesla is right?

    Nikola Tesla invented the Alternating Current, he also began construction on the Tesla Tower which would have used the ionosphere to provide free unlimited,perfectly clean,environmentally friendly, and renewable energy to the entire planet.

    However this project funding was cut short by JP Morgan and General Electric, who prefered Thomas Edison’s project; which created a monopoly on electricity and made a profit for Morgan and the General Electric company.

    Now we realize that we cannot continue with the combustion/fossil fuel based, non renewable, dirty energy that we have become accustomed to for all of our energy needs, we need to return to the clean Nikola Tesla technologies for the future of the entire planet.

  21. moustapha Avatar

    Sure lets do that.. but while that is being studied and the wheel is being reinvented by the world and not just Lebanon.. Lebanon should do whats best by making a balanced investment on its Energy sector.

    Something to appease the offshore drilling that will bank into Lebanon’s economy and brake its deficit, and the other is renewable energy sources. And If it is economically more beneficent for us to sell the gas and oil we obtain from drilling then GREAT we should transitionally switch to dominantly renewable energy.

    And maybe by the end of that phase the minds of this world would have agreed to even hint the idea of Nicola Tesla’s project.

    Or maybe you should create a racist renewable energy source that promotes creating energy for Lebanon by burning Holy scriptures and books.

    1. Moustapha,

      There is no doubt that a major Natural gas discovery off shore will be very helpful. But even if that was to happen then it will be a a few years . Lebanon must start working immediately on a solution for its huge electricity shortage. The cleanest and yet least expensive fossil fuel is Natural gas and so we must retrofit our current capacity to use natural gas and then if and when the discoveries off shore materialize Lebanon will decrease or even stop its importation of Egyptian natural gas.

      1. moustapha Avatar

        Ghassan,

        Your wrong the tower was an invention to introduce wireless electricity. Just like how a few years ago they talked about recharging your cell phone or laptop wirelessly. Tesla came up with this 200 years ago.

        But with regards to what Lebanon should do I agree with you on the upgrading to natural gas facilities and stated that in my first post.

    2. Moustapha,

      There is no doubt that a major Natural gas discovery off shore will be very helpful. But even if that was to happen then it will be a a few years . Lebanon must start working immediately on a solution for its huge electricity shortage. The cleanest and yet least expensive fossil fuel is Natural gas and so we must retrofit our current capacity to use natural gas and then if and when the discoveries off shore materialize Lebanon will decrease or even stop its importation of Egyptian natural gas.

  22. moustapha Avatar

    Sure lets do that.. but while that is being studied and the wheel is being reinvented by the world and not just Lebanon.. Lebanon should do whats best by making a balanced investment on its Energy sector.

    Something to appease the offshore drilling that will bank into Lebanon’s economy and brake its deficit, and the other is renewable energy sources. And If it is economically more beneficent for us to sell the gas and oil we obtain from drilling then GREAT we should transitionally switch to dominantly renewable energy.

    And maybe by the end of that phase the minds of this world would have agreed to even hint the idea of Nicola Tesla’s project.

    Or maybe you should create a racist renewable energy source that promotes creating energy for Lebanon by burning Holy scriptures and books.

  23. moustapha Avatar

    sorry i mean’t 100 years ago

  24. moustapha Avatar

    sorry i mean’t 100 years ago

  25. Thanks Moustapha for clarifiying that it’s wireless electricity.

    The ionosphere is amazing, tapping into it will provide the entire planet with free clean, renewable energy.

    The ramifications are mind blowing, this would mean no shortage of water nor food for the entire planet, and no more pollution anywhere.

    I guess maybe we should forget about, I mean it might be more profitable for the energy monopoly to provide us with power generated from burning holy scriptures as Moustapha said.

  26. Thanks Moustapha for clarifiying that it’s wireless electricity.

    The ionosphere is amazing, tapping into it will provide the entire planet with free clean, renewable energy.

    The ramifications are mind blowing, this would mean no shortage of water nor food for the entire planet, and no more pollution anywhere.

    I guess maybe we should forget about, I mean it might be more profitable for the energy monopoly to provide us with power generated from burning holy scriptures as Moustapha said.

Leave a Reply