Lebanon continues to experience one of the worst political and economic crises in its modern history, a crisis that has exacerbated the government’s long-standing failure to provide adequate electricity coverage to its residents. For many years, the alternative to failing state-provided electricity was dependence on privately owned diesel-powered generators that residents pay monthly subscription fees for, a costly and highly polluting method. However, the rising costs of fuel imports, the worsening provision of state electricity, and the increased fuel price coupled with the greed by generator owners have exacerbated the unsustainability of the energy structures. This has pushed tens of thousands of Lebanese to look for alternatives – and notably to solar photovoltaics - in an attempt to ensure their basic electricity coverage.

Since early 2020, solar panels have sprouted across Lebanon, from urban rooftops to agricultural lands. According to the State-affiliated Lebanese Center for Energy Conservation (LCEC), private installations in businesses and homes since 2020 have added 350MW of renewable power — about 5-7% of Lebanon’s annual energy needs (by comparison, only 100MW of solar power were added between 2010 and 2020).

However, this widespread adoption of solar technology has occurred too quickly, with a significant absence of a regulatory framework. It has been hindered by many obstacles, some of which are inherent to solar panel technology, though most are tied to the Lebanese political and economic system.

What this translated to is individuals with financial capital could afford solar panels, whereas the majority of the population as well as key public and private institutions and facilities (schools, hospitals, agriculture cooperatives, and small businesses) are often priced out and do not have access to loans to pay for the installation of panels. There have been numerous humanitarian efforts to support the shift to solar energy, but these efforts remain sporadic and regionally inequitable. In addition, the absence of a clear policy framework raises several security and environmental issues. There is little oversight and control of the quality of the equipment installed, the qualifications of the companies installing solar panels, and no plans to handle the recycling of used lithium batteries used to stock solar-produced energy.

  • Through this project, we seek to understand who are the main actors in the solar energy sector today?
  • What are the direct and hidden costs and injustices on local residents?
  • How does the government monitor and regulate this new emerging private industry?
  • What can be done to make the ecosystem fairer and also make the right to energy through solar energy for broader segments of society and notably key public facilities?

Strategic Objective

This project is guided by strategic objectives designed to identify and address the challenges of the solar rollout in Lebanon:

  • Document solar injustices: improve understanding of what solar injustices mean, how exactly they manifest across Lebanon, and contribute to ways of elevating energy imbalances.
  • Promoting Accountability: advocating for local and international responsibility for their contributions to solar injustices in their various forms.
  • Integrating Justice Considerations: Embedding the right to energy into the renewable energy roll out including solar project planning and legal frameworks.

Core Activities

  • Research and documentation.
  • Town Halls and workshops: this project will engage.
  • Participatory Collaboration.

Project Impact

This project outlines the unjust challenges (and opportunities) of a solar rollout based on energy impoverishment and desperation. In a time of climate change and the urgent need to shift to renewables and meet people’s right to energy, stakeholders in this field must reflect on their role in energy transition, including how to elevate the nation’s energy inequities and act in accordance to the principles of the Just Transition.

 

Project sponsor