Solar is Hot Because it’s Needed, Not Because it’s Trendy
Is Lebanon turning to solar power faster than other nations? Probably not but considering Lebanese citizens regularly depend on fuel-powered generators to power their homes, the recent turn to solar is more than noticeable.
The deepening economic crisis and the collapse of the Lebanese currency have all but brought the national electricity supply to its knees and made fuel for generators out of reach for most.
Solar panels and battery storage systems are popping up all over Lebanon, from Tripoli in the north, to Beirut, to the Bekaa Valley, and down to towns and villages along the Blue Line in the south. But even though solar energy systems are significantly cheaper today compared to ten years ago, they are still a significant initial investment.
UNIFIL has for years now been steadily converting and augmenting some of its compounds with solar energy production in an effort to be more environmentally friendly. Over the last few years, though, the mission has received more and more requests by southern communities for assistance with solar energy production.
UNIFIL’s Polish Battalion responded to such a request by the Social Development Centre (SDC) of Bint Jbeil city. The director of the SDC, Mrs. Nada Bazzi, listed the lack of power as the top concern and priority for the center.
Bint Jbeil’s social development center supports local residents as well as Syrian refugees, many of whom are women and children. Every month about 1500 to 1800 people benefit from the services of the center, which include medical assistance, training courses, a nursery for small children, as well as social and psychological support. Without a regular power supply, the sewing training courses are frequently cancelled, medical supplies cannot be refrigerated consistently, and nurseries are often insufficiently lit.
The Polish Battalion recognized the urgent need of the center and initiated their support through their Civil Military Coordination Team. The project, funded by the Polish government, consisted of the installation and activation of an 18-panel photovoltaic system, including three inverters and 12 storage batteries. The system is designed to produce sufficient electricity to cover the needs of the center.
Mrs. Bazzi was more than delighted and grateful to have gained greater energy independence and reliance, having at least three quarters of the center’s electricity needs covered by the solar system. “My center is the first one in Lebanon that gained access to solar energy,” she exclaimed, happy that the power cuts and prolonged periods without electricity have been reduced significantly.