Hasan Istaytiyyah was lucky to have six hours of state-run energy a day before he decided to install a solar photovoltaic system and ditch his dirty generator. Now he tells Daily Star that he has energy all the time, and finally feels connected with the rest of the world through internet access and satellite TV despite his remote location in the Bekaa Valley near the border of Syria.
Istaytiyyah’s story is a familiar one. Although Lebanon has strong northerly winds and piles of sunshine, the country’s leadership has failed to incorporate renewable energy to help meet the 2,400 MW daily demand. With a 900MW shortfall, many residents—particularly in rural areas—are without power for up to 18 hours a day.
Eco Friendly Solar Panels
Istaytiyyah’s goat farm in Qaa was plagued by the state’s energy shortages until 2010 when he saw an advertisement for solar energy listed by Eco Friendly, an environmental consultancy started by Patrick Ardahalian, Daily Star reports.
The entire system cost $9,372, which includes installation and VAT, according to a comment left on Eco Friendly’s Facebook page.
Not only does he have access to energy all the time, but Istaytiyyah was also able to get rid of his noisy, polluting generator when the PV system was installed.
“My farm became more friendly to my family and friends and closer to the civilized way of life despite its remoteness,” he said.
Even though Lebanon has sun for roughly 300 days a year and the government pledged to provide at least 12% of its energy by using renewable sources by 2020, National Secretary of the Green Part Samir Skaf told Daily Star that the recently published National Energy Plan shows that the government will only provide 6.6% of the country’s needs using renewable sources.
Pierre Koury, Manager at the Lebanese Center for Energy Conservation disagrees, saying that natural gas is part of the plan, and therefore accounts for the rest of the country’s renewable energy source.
George Abboud, founder of Earth Technologies, blames the government’s shortsightedness, claiming that ”the customs fees for his energy-efficient LED bulbs are 15 percent, while those for regular bulbs are 5 percent. And last year he was unable to import electric cars for a taxi company he wanted to establish, because he was told that all cars imported into Lebanon are required to run on fuel,” Daily Star reports.
While government stays stuck in the status quo, citizens dissatisfied with their poor living conditions are taking power into their own hands. And as more do so, installation costs will drop.