The shortage of fuels and reoccurring electricity outage was difficult for Lebanese. But this opened a space for growth in solar power systems for retailers and wholesalers.
“We have seen an unbelievable demand for solar panels that comes with batteries in recent few months. Our sales jumped 200 percent this year compared to last year. Most of the clients are outside the capital Beirut and are mainly focused on rural areas and small towns,” a representative of a retail solar company said.
Depending on the size and number of panels and batteries, the cost of a solar system varies from $3,000 up to $13,500 with batteries. The companies are offering solar power systems from 5 amps up to 100 amps. Numerous companies are now offering a range of solar power systems and batteries. These batteries can either be charged by the sun or by the electricity from EDL.
“Our phones won’t stop ringing. We sometimes get 100 calls a day from citizens who want to inquire about the specifications of the solar system and their prices,” another solar power system dealer said.
“But nevertheless, there are people who are willing to pay any price to guarantee long hours of electricity. They think it is a good investment in the long run because they fear that the electricity outage will get worse in the future,” a dealer said.
“We have seven months of sunny weather each year, and even during winter the solar panels and batteries can still be recharged for long hours. Some of the more expensive solar panels and heavy-duty batteries can supply close to 20 hours of electricity each day even without the private generators of EDL,” one dealer indicated.
At the end of 2019, the aggregate capacity of installed solar photovoltaic (PV) systems in the country reached 78.65 mega-watt-peak (MWp) said the Lebanese Center for Energy Conservation (LCEC). It was an increase of 39% with 56.50 MWp capacity from 2018.
In 2019, 360 news solar PV projects were initiated in Lebanon, while in 2017, it was 387 projects and 326 projects in 2018. Some of the major projects installed in 2019 were a solar PV system at Casino du Liban and a solar PV system on the rooftop of the wheat silos at the Port of Beirut.
A target of 100 MWp was set by the National Renewable Energy Action Plan (NREAP) by 2020 which additionally would require 21.35 MWp of installed capacity in 2020. It was considered that funding from the National Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Action (NEEREA) was crucial to achieve the target. NEEREA is Banque du Liban’s existing financing mechanism for energy efficiency and renewable energy investments.
The target was achieved with the help of international financial institutions which included the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the European Investment Bank, and the Agence Française de Développement.
The total cumulative investment in the solar PV sector was $125.8 million in 2019, a hike of 20% from $105.1 million in 2018, funded by the NEEREA loan program with $64.75 million in 2019.
Compared to 83.8 GWh in 2018, It was estimated that decentralized solar PV systems generated 111.7-gigawatt-hours (GWh) in 2019 compared to 83.8 GWh in 2018.