Wind Turbines in Egypt – Copyrights: Igor Srdanovic
In aiming to analyse the underlying issues that contributed to the rolling power blackouts of 2012 in Egypt, the first part of this two-part article focussed on attempting to offer an answer to the question of why did the blackouts occur. Following on from this, this second part attempts to answer the next crucial question of how do we solve this problem. While the previous Egyptian Government has focused on promoting behavioural change strategies as their primary approach for bridging the energy gap, a number of alternative strategies such as infrastructure upgrade, demand side management, increasing energy efficient of buildings, and diversification of energy sources were available. In an aim to explore this diverse range of policy options, the following will highlight and discuss the potential impact of a number of these possible solution pathways.
Continue reading Empowering Egypt: Strategies
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.
Continue reading Empowering Egypt: Challenges
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.
Continue reading Carbon Footprint of Electricity in the Middle East
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
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
“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”.
Continue reading Subsidizing Electricity in Lebanon
Guy El Khoury
From Electricity Concessions to National Grid
1885 is generally considered as the birth year of the electricity network in Lebanon. It is the year where the first concession for a network of gas lighting was established in Beirut when the city was still under Ottoman rule. Over the following decades, the development of the electricity infrastructure across the country was carried out by similar independent regional concessions.
Although the electricity network progressively expanded to cover major cities of the country, this scheme of infrastructure development failed to benefit all citizens and regions equally. Industrial development for example was only concentrated in areas where concessions provided reliable supply (Beirut suburbs and Chekka in the North).
It is only in the early 1960s that the improvement of access to electricity became a government priority. In fact, electrification was a key pillar of nation-building efforts spearheaded by president Fouad Chehab (1958 – 1964), who saw extending the electricity network to the entire Lebanese territory and unifying tariff schemes across the country as a guarantee for reliable and equal access to electricity for all citizens.
Continue reading The Power Sector in Lebanon