Empowering Egypt: Challenges

Rokia Raslan

Power Infrastructure in Egypt. Copyrights: Rémih

The past summer has seen something that many Egyptians had long forgotten: rolling power blackouts. Reports have cited that these month-long power cuts have affected everyday life for Egyptians in many ways. The outages stranded passengers on the Cairo Metro, raised concerns about night time safety and contributed to water supply interruption. Over a period of over a month the frequency of power cuts increased dramatically and were mapped by the crowd-mapping website, Kahrabtak. Power outages in some areas lasted 18 hours a day, hitting poorer residential districts especially hard and prompting protests in Fayoum, Gharbiya and Giza among others.

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Carbon Footprint of Electricity in the Middle East

Guy El Khoury

Despite the increasing global interest in renewable energy sources, electricity generation remains largely dependent on fossil fuels with approximately 70% of the world’s electricity currently being generated using coal, natural gas, and petroleum products. Coal, the most carbon intensive of the fossil fuels, accounts for the largest share of electricity generated globally, with 40% of all electricity generated.

Such reliance on fossil fuels is coupled with a relatively low conversion efficiency from fossil fuels to electricity, which averages 35%. The remaining 65% of the energy contained in fuels used is in effect wasted, lost as heat in power plant turbines and generators.

In this context, it is not surprising to learn that electricity generation stands as the top contributor to global Carbon emissions. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), electricity generation currently accounts for approximately 50% of global carbon emissions.

In the Middle East and North Africa region, electricity and heat production are responsible for 41% of total carbon emissions according to IEA data from 2009. And while not representing a consumption sector, electricity generation ranked well higher than any individual sector, including transportation, which comes second and accounts for 25% of the region’s total carbon emissions.  Yet carbon emissions from electricity generation is not equal across the region. In fact, the top 5 contributors to carbon emissions from electricity generation – namely Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE, Kuwait, and Iraq – together represent 70% of the region’s electricity generation carbon emissions, according to 2009 data by the IEA, a share that represents approximately 30% of the region’s total carbon emissions.

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A Visual Guide to Energy Use in Buildings in the Middle East

Karim Elgendy

In celebrating this year’s World Green Building Week, Carboun has released a visual guide to energy use in buildings with the goal of explaining the overall state of energy use in the region and the significance of buildings as a major sector in energy consumption. It also aims to comparatively explain the nuances of the major trends of energy use in buildings as a baseline analysis for further research.  The visual guide, which was researched and designed by Karim Elgendy with additional contributions from a small research team, was based on raw data obtained from the International Energy Agency and the World Bank. Copyrights for all infographics are reserved for Carboun. No reproduction or republishing of any infographic or part thereof is permitted without prior written consent from the author.

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Institutional and Legal Challenges to 24/7 electricity in Lebanon

Marie Tyl

The institutional and legal setups of the Lebanese power sector define the decision making mechanisms, and identify the role of different stakeholders from the national electric utility, Electricite du Liban (EDL), to the Council of Ministers. In their current form, such laws and regulations do not grant EDL the tools and capabilities that would enable it to operate at the required standards and  deliver reliable 24/7 electricity. Nor do they entice the utility to optimize its performance. Most importantly, the current setup largely exposes the power sector to political influence and their short-sighted calculations, which leads to the inefficient management of human resources, among other adverse results. Continue reading Institutional and Legal Challenges to 24/7 electricity in Lebanon

Technical Challenges to 24/7 electricity in Lebanon

Marc Ziade

As Lebanon’s economy recovered from the Civil War, demand grew substantially and surpassed additional capacity of the current electricity generation levels. Power shortages progressively became the norm with some regions barely receiving 12 hours of electricity supply on some days.

The technical challenges that prevent sufficient volumes of electricity from getting reliably delivered to end-users span across the entire power system value chain: from insufficient capacity to large losses in the transmission and distribution networks. Continue reading Technical Challenges to 24/7 electricity in Lebanon

Nuclear Desert

Guy El Khoury

A year ago, in March 2011, a tsunami swept parts of the eastern coast of Japan and caused a major accident at the Fukushima-Daiichi power plant, leading to widespread radioactive material leakage and a sharp increase in radioactivity in nearby areas. Being the most notable accident since Chernobyl, it restarted the debate on nuclear energy option both in Japan and around the world. In Germany, this debate soon led to a decision to terminate the federation’s civilian nuclear program with a commitment to develop renewable energy alternatives, as well as additional thermal power plants, to cover the energy shortfall. A similar debate on nuclear energy has also emerged in the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA) where a number of countries have been exploring nuclear energy option for years, but have not been able to turn their nuclear ambitions to realities due to their lack of technical capability, fear of nuclear proliferation, and lack of sufficient financial resources. This debate was further brought to the fore with the recent move by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to develop a civilian nuclear program and the operation of the Bushehr plant in Iran, and has proven to be quite divisive with strong positions arguing for and against nuclear energy

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Subsidizing Electricity in Lebanon

Marie Tyl

“Electricity is the mother of all problems in Lebanon … the size of the problem is beginning to pose a danger to public finances” – M. Chatah, Lebanese former Finance Minister.

Electricite du Liban (EDL), the state’s electric utility, operates seven thermal plants fueled by gasoil, fuel oil, and natural gas. It also runs six hydro-electric power plants. The national utility enjoys a quasi-monopoly over the power sector in Lebanon. However, for reasons ranging from inefficient operation and management to a freeze-of-tariffs government policy, the electricity company has to rely on significant subsidies from the Ministry of Finance to cover its deficit. During 2011, for example, approximately USD 1.57 billion were transferred from the state treasury to EDL, 93% of which was allocated to purchase oil. This subsidy constitutes one fifth of total public expenses, and according to a 2009 social impact analysis by the World Bank “is putting macroeconomic stability at risk”.

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