First wind farm in Lebanon

Lebanese renewable energy have fallen short of its ambitious goal of reaching 12 percent of Lebanon’s energy needs by the year 2020.

But now it is in the middle of building its first wind farm at about 60 MW in the country’s north.

Being a country that has largely been dependent on imported coal and petroleum, Lebanon is in sharp contract with oil exporting Middle Eastern countries who have  much oil and are willing to trade it for water. But the country’s first wind project is well under way.

This situation may change somewhat when the country’s first wind farm project will produce enough electricity to illuminate 60,000 homes. When the Lebanese government issued a tender to build a 50 to 100 megawatt (MW) wind turbine farm, four companies applied; including a Lebanese firm called Hawa Akkwar who applied together with Greek and Chinese partners.

The tender was won by the Hawa Akkar partnership, who plan to construct a 60 MW wind farm in the country’s northern Akkar district. This is an area said to be in dire need of more electricity infrastructure.

When completed, the wind farm is estimated to be able to supply power to illuminate around 60,000 homes. Hawa Akkar’s general manager, Albert Khoury, said that the Akkar region was chosen for the wind farm due it “being a public services deprived area since long ago.”

He added that the wind farm will provide reasonably priced electricity for the region, strengthen the region’s economy and tourism business; and provide additional employment opportunities.

Wind farming in the Middle East

Wind farms, as compared to solar energy, have not yet become prevalent in most parts of the Middle East and Mediterranean areas. Morocco and Egypt have larger wind power projects, with Egypt’s Zafaraana wind farm at Ain Sokhna on the Red Sea  the region’s largest with 360 megawatts. The Zafaraana wind farm, when running at full capacity, should be able produce as much as 545 megawatts of clean electricity.

Lebanon can benefit significantly from alternative energy projects due to its coastlines becoming heavily polluted by sewage runoff and oil spills. Although the Akkar wind farm will only produce around 60 – 80 megawatts of electricity, the Mayor of Machta Hammoud, Mr. Naji Ramadan, and Deputy Mayor of Muqabla, Mr. Ahmed Akkar (two area communities that will benefit from the project) said that the wind farm will provide power to homes that now suffer from electricity rationing.

by Maurice Picow