The Lebanon National Committee aims to promote sustainable energy development in Lebanon, as a part of the WEC’s energy vision. As a member of the WEC network, the organisation is committed to representing the Lebanese perspective within national, regional and global energy debates. The committee includes a variety of members to ensure that the diverse energy interests of Lebanon are appropriately represented. Members of the committee are invited to attend high-level events, participate in energy-focused study groups, contribute to technical research and be a part of the global energy dialogue.
Mr. El Khoury is the General Director and President of the Board at LCEC. Graduated from the American University of Beirut (AUB), he holds a Bachelor Degree in Electrical Engineering and a Master Degree in Engineering Management. He joined UNDP in 2005 to become a member of the LCEC project team. He became the project manager of the center by end of 2008. With the institutionalization of the LCEC in 2011, he headed the first Executive Board. He was appointed in 2010 by the Ministry of Energy and Water as member of the national committee responsible for the implementation of the “Policy Paper of the Electricity Sector” for Lebanon. He is the main writer of the National Energy Efficiency Action Plan for Lebanon (NEEAP), making Lebanon the first country in the Arab world to have such a plan. El Khoury is also the main developer of the concept of NEEREA, Lebanon’s national financing mechanism. He is the national representative of Lebanon in the Board of Trustees of the Regional Center for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (RCREEE). He is also Secretary of the World Energy Council (WEC) Lebanon Committee, the national focal point of IRENA, MSP, and many other initiatives.
Energy in Lebanon
In 2020, Lebanon faced economic, financial, and political crisis, in addition to the effects the Covid-19 pandemic and the tragic explosion at the Beirut port. In October 2019, the financial crisis led to the devaluation of the Lebanese pound and severe inflation. The consumer price index increased by 136.8% within a year, reducing the purchasing power of the Lebanese pound in a highly dollarised market (CAS, 2020). The GDP is expected to decline by 19.2% in 2020 and by 13.2% in 2021. In March 2020, the Government defaulted on the redemption of a 1.2 billion USD Eurobond, marking Lebanon's first-ever sovereign default (World Bank, 2020). These challenges led to the emergence of the following critical uncertainties in the country’s energy landscape: investor environment, affordability, and economic trends. These add to the constant uncertainties of energy supply and geopolitics, noting that the latter heavily impacts the safety and security of the country.
According to the Issues Survey results, renewable energy (RE) and energy efficiency (EE) are the top issues energy leaders of Lebanon plan to prioritise in 2021. Action priorities, such as the scale up of renewables, the improvement of energy efficiency and decentralisation will diversify the energy mix and increase decarbonisation levels that are crucial to improve the resilience and stability of the energy sector. Such measures will also reduce the country’s reliance on fossil fuels, and lessen the impact of price fluctuations, which are directly dependent on global events.
Investments in EE and RE have become a challenge due to reduced access to financing in light of a deteriorating economy. However, the Government of Lebanon has reaffirmed its commitment to meet the target of 12% from RE by 2020 and 30% by 2030 and is seeking international financing to support these critical sectors, including for the power sector, in order to achieve RE targets. Strategies are documented in official documents prepared by the Lebanese Centre for Energy Conservation (LCEC) and the Lebanese Ministry of Energy and Water: The National Renewable Energy Action Plan 2016-2020 (NREAP) and the National Energy Efficiency Action Plan 2016-2020 (NEEAP). These documents are being updated to NEEAP 2021-2025 and the NREAP 2021-202, which will include initiatives to promote decentralised solar PV systems.
Many national RE projects are in the pipeline, including the first wind farm in Lebanon with a capacity of 226MW, solar photovoltaic farms with a capacity of 180MW, and solar photovoltaic farms with energy storage with a capacity of 210-300MW. These projects will reduce the deficit of electricity supply. These large RE projects could be immensely scaled up with a thorough infrastructure integration and grid planning, and even more with a more advanced market design and sector governance.
As for decentralised RE systems and consumer EE applications, the opportunities for transition are still there to grasp. Fiscal policies and market regulation are still needed to breach the electricity sector monopoly. Digitalisation and innovation would further provide an enabling environment where public and private sector coexist to transition to a more efficient, sustainable, and reliable power system.
As for the oil and gas sector, the drilling of the first exploration well on Block 4 in the Exclusive Economic Zone of Lebanon was completed in April 2020. Traces of gas were observed, confirming the presence of a hydrocarbon system, but no reservoirs were found. Further studies will be made to assess the results and further evaluate the exploration potential of the Lebanese offshore. In total, the operator in the consortium that was awarded Block 9 of Lebanon’s offshore EEZ, is expected to specify the location of the first exploration well by Q1 2021.