UNDP and EU Initiative in Lebanon helps tackle climate change and provide energy access

Oct 21, 2015

6 hours—that’s the average amount of time every day that Lebanon goes without power. This is due to a large deficit between energy demand and energy supply in the country, as well as inefficiencies in the energy grid that lead it to operate at only 65 percent of its total capacity. The civil war in Syria has only further strained the energy supply—the influx of refugees into areas with already poor infrastructure has raised demands immensely. Throughout Lebanon, people have to rely on expensive, emissions-heavy diesel generators to compensate for regular blackouts and brownouts.

“Classrooms cannot be managed in a healthy way without lights,” says Ali Majed, Director of The Amal Education Institute, Tahrir Complex, a K-12 school in southern Lebanon. Energy at the Institute is so erratic that the seasons determine whether students are comfortable during class.

“Considering our geographical location on a hilltop, we benefit from the natural ventilation in the summer season, but are exposed to high winds and breezes during the winter,” Ali continues. Like schools all over Lebanon, the Institute relies heavily on diesel generators to make up for power outages.

In an effort to improve the energy supply throughout Lebanon, UNDP has partnered with the European Union and the private sector on the CEDRO 4 project, an initiative that aims to develop and implement a national sustainable energy strategy that can both provide more reliable energy as well as mitigate climate change. CEDRO 4 operates with national counterparts, including the Ministry of Energy and Water (MEW), the Lebanese Center for Energy Conservation (LCEC), the Council for Development and Reconstruction (CDR), Electricite du Liban and the Ministry of Industry.

The scope of the project is extensive. It is implementing diesel-solar hybrid systems for schools like the Institute, giving much-needed relief to school power systems as well as improving the air quality surrounding dorms (the diesel generators cause air pollution). The 464-panel system at the Institute will generate 160 MWh of electricity, save 107,200 kg of CO2 emissions annually and will benefit over 1,300 students.

CEDRO 4 is also working closely with Lebanese NGOs and foundations. One such foundation is MEDRAR, which sponsors development projects and provides direct humanitarian aid. In Nabatye Caza, MEDRAR has partnered with CEDRO 4 to create a geothermal energy system that will provide power for a facility that provides services for drug addiction and elder care. The project is installing a vertical looped ground source heat pump that will deliver air conditioning, heat and hot water to the 240-bed facility.

“The project has been created as a response to the serious social issues faced by the residents of Nabatye Caza in particular and Lebanon in general,” says. Dunia Berry, Director of the MEDRAR Medical Center.
In addition to working with local, community-based organizations, CEDRO 4 is also dedicated to helping improve energy efficiency among Lebanese companies, helping them to decrease emissions and increase profitability. One partner is LibanJus, a juice manufacturer in Baabda.

“For LibanJus to meet its production target, we had to invest in a large diesel plant,” says Nadim Gharios, business development manager. The company has been using diesel generators to ensure continuous electricity, a measure that increased production costs and raised the selling price of its product.
“[The] electricity cost in Lebanon is higher than most other countries, something that directly impacts our competitiveness in the regional markets,” Nadim continues.

A hybrid power system has been installed in LibanJus, which will reduce energy costs and make the company more competitive. The 429-panel system will generate 356 MWh of electricity and save approximately 275,210 kg in CO2 emissions annually. Similar systems are being implemented in other Lebanese companies in Bekaa and Bikfaya, as well as in universities in Kaslik and Beirut.

CEDRO 4—which started in 2014 and will continue through 2016—stands as an example of how locally-informed, community-driven mitigation measures will drive the global campaign to reduce carbon emissions. For more information on CEDRO 4, see http://www.cedro-undp.org/

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