The current crisis in Lebanon has come due to many reasons, yet the most important among them is Lebanon’s management of its energy sector. For decades now, Lebanon has relied on expensive and highly polluting sources of centralized energy, produced from large and inefficient power plants, and when traveling the distance from the power plants to the end-users, more than 35% of the power is lost due to a below-par network infrastructure in addition to the theft of electricity.
Changing Lebanon’s behemoth centralized power paradigm is now an urgent need to reduce the dependence of Lebanon on fuel imports of fuel, which would dramatically assist in balancing our trade and safeguarding our hard currency. Moreover, shifting to a more distributed energy system offers benefits in terms of environmental performance, local economic activity and job creation, and social cohesion.
The European Union (EU) has long been a supporter of Lebanon in many aspects, foremost among them is the energy sector. One of these EU-supported initiatives is the UNDP-implemented CEDRO 5 project.
The CEDRO 5 project, with approximately 7.8 million Euros of grant and end-beneficiary funding, focuses on multiple activities simultaneously in order to assist the drive towards a more sustainable energy system.
Transforming our energy system requires multiple and far-reaching approaches and CEDRO takes on this challenge through four main activities.
The first of these is an innovation and entrepreneurship challenge dubbed Energy Innovation Hub (http://eihub-lb.com/), where innovators have submitted their concepts and ideas that have the potential to transform the way we use and produce energy. Twenty-one ideas were submitted and will be mentored and filtered to eventually support the five most promising ones with considerable financing. Moreover, an online portal will be created to bring together innovators, stakeholders, and policymakers in the energy sector, to learn of opportunities and of the latest knowledge in sustainable energy through an online platform.
The second activity is to continue demonstrating distributed renewable energy and energy efficiency. With the Association of Lebanese Industries (ALI), solar PV for electricity, biogas for electricity and heat, solar thermal for heat, and energy efficiency for the industry will be demonstrated across ten industrial and/or commercial facilities. Through these projects, new value chains will be set up and jobs created. An open application is found online for interested industrialists to apply to our program (http://www.cedro-undp.org). Moreover, community support will be not left behind. In coordination with the EU-funded Clima-MED program, CEDRO will be supporting many sustainable projects in Lebanese villages and towns that have completed their Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plans. Finally, The Lebanese Green Building Council will be reinitiating the Lebanese building certification of ARZ and commercial buildings and units will be highly encouraged to apply for certification to enhance their corporate social responsibilities.
The third activity is policy-related. Lebanon has committed itself under the Paris Climate Change Agreement to reach 20% renewable energy by 2030. Yet how do we measure this? How would we know we reached this target? With the International Renewable Energy Certification (I-REC) Foundation, CEDRO will be establishing a voluntary (at first) Energy Attribute Certificate market for Lebanon. Once established, renewable energy production and use will be known, certified, and even open for a market to create more value for the green attributes of this production.
Last, CEDRO will be forging forward an integrated capacity building and awareness campaign that will involve face-to-face, online and hybrid courses and workshops to increase knowledge and capacity in the sustainable energy sector in Lebanon, assisting in readying the young generation to take a better approach towards securing our energy needs.
Centralized power sources would only help in centralizing political and economic power and this would only support inequalities. The CEDRO 5 project is one of those initiatives that aim to show how power can be brought back to the people.
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