THE ISSAM FARES INSTITUTE FOR PUBLIC POLICY AND INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS
IFI and the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI) held a screening of a documentary titled “Chasing the Sun – بحثاً عن الشمس” followed by a panel discussion among experts. The event took place on September 6 -7, 2022 at the Basile Antoine Meguerdiche Conference Hall (IFI Auditorium).
Lebanon’s ongoing severe economic crisis has significantly impacted the electricity situation. With energy prices rising at an unprecedented rate, and the government failing to finance power, citizens have rushed to install cost-effective renewable energy sources, mostly solar photovoltaic (PV) and batteries (or solar kits), and are now employing them for their homes and businesses across Lebanon. However, these initiatives have been primarily citizen-led.
The documentary’s main objective is to advocate for and raise citizen awareness towards implementing best practices for solar system development, as well as for decision-makers to adopt necessary regulations for the growth of the sector. It explains where Lebanon stands compared to other countries in the region that have witnessed a remarkable boom in solar generation during and after a crisis, and presents the obstacles faced by the sector to further develop and grow.
The first panel included Dr. Antoine Habib - Chairman and General Manager of Banque De L’Habitat, Khalil Dinguizli - Head of Lebanon’s European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and Kristina Mikulova - Representative of the European Investment Bank (EIB) in Lebanon and was moderated by Carol Ayat - Energy Financial Specialist and Senior Fellow at IFI. The speakers presented the financial costs of renewable energy projects in Lebanon. By comparing fuel and solar energy prices, they stated that Lebanese citizens are using generators that cost 50 cents/kWh, which exceeds the minimum wage of most citizens, while solar energy costs around 5 to 7 cent/kWh, thus emphasizing the importance of unleashing the potential of solar energy in the country. However, it was noted that the Lebanese government has not taken any steps towards financing or making these projects feasible, and renewable energy draft laws have been pending in parliament for over three years.
The second panel gathered Hassan Hrajli - Program Advisor and Project Manager of the Energy and Environment Program at UNDP Lebanon, Rony Karam - President of the Lebanese Foundation for Renewable Energy (LFRE), and Christina Abi Haidar - Energy Legal Expert and was moderated by IFI Associate Fellow Marc Ayoub. Speakers tackled a more specific question: the rule of law on community-based renewable energy projects. Panelists discussed the challenges local communities are facing by single-handedly implementing renewable solar energy, as well as the opportunities this method of sourcing power is offering them. They noted that the decentralization of energy is important in Lebanon, since 40% of energy is lost in its centralization.