Lebanon issues 11 licences for small-scale solar power projects

Beirut - The Lebanese government has issued licences to 11 companies to construct solar power plants capable of producing 15 megawatts each, energy minister Walid Fayyad said on Thursday. The companies would have a year to secure funding

Beirut - The Lebanese government has issued licences to 11 companies to construct solar power plants capable of producing 15 megawatts each, energy minister Walid Fayyad said on Thursday at a news briefing. The companies, which include both local and international firms, would have a year to secure funding, the minister said. Lebanon has suffered chronic power outages since a 15-year civil war that ended in 1990 ravaged the state's electricity infrastructure and left many families relying on private generators.

The economic crisis left Lebanon's government unable to operate its power plants or subsidize fuel imports for private operators. The stations would only partly contribute to Lebanon's energy demands, which exceed 3,000 MW. Fayyad said their construction would be a "good sign" to an international community that has been asking Lebanon to reform its energy sector.

The sector has widened the country's public debt by tens of billions of dollars. Solar production would cost between 3.6 and 5.7 cents per kilowatt hour, Fayyad said, compared to the 10 to 15% cost of production via fuel. The minister said he would travel to neighbouring Syria on Sunday to iron out a deal to import Egyptian gas and Jordanian electricity via Syria, in a project backed by the U.S. and with World Bank financing.

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