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Nazarian: Lebanon sitting on extensive geothermal energy

Energy Minister Arthur Nazarian attends a ceremony in Baabda, Thursday, March 13, 2014. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

BEIRUT: Energy and Water Minister Arthur Nazarian said Monday that there was more than 70,000 times Lebanon’s annual energy consumption available from geothermal energy.

“The geothermal resource assessment for Lebanon showed that the geothermal energy available in the country is 1,000 million megawatt hours, which is 70 fold the amount of energy needed in Lebanon per year,” he said, adding that only a small quantity could be utilized with the technology currently available.

The minister underlined the need begin work on geothermal energy in Lebanon, as the extraction process takes a long time.

Nazarian said that the ideal scenario would be to meet 0.2 percent of Lebanon’s total energy needs with geothermal sources by 2025.

Geothermal energy is in the form of heat derived from the earth. Electricity can be produced by drilling wells into geothermal reservoirs and pumping water through that is turned to steam by the high temperatures of the rock in the earth’s crust. If the water is not heated enough to produce steam, geothermal systems can also be utilized to heat buildings, reducing electricity use.

“But the great amount of this kind of energy available in Lebanon and the fast improvement in extraction techniques necessitates a prompt move on our side by starting with the studies required for that purpose,” the minister explained.

Nazarian’s remarks came during a conference held by CEDRO project, organized by the United Nations Development Program in collaboration with the Energy and Water Ministry, to announce the completion of the geothermal resource assessment for Lebanon.

This study aims to establish a geothermal atlas for the country and estimate the current overall potential of geothermal heat and power generation, and the ability of geothermal power to assist in the objective of the Lebanese government in meeting 12 percent of its total energy needs from renewable energy sources by 2020.

This completion of the study puts Lebanon in an avant-garde position regarding renewable energy research, as few countries have implemented serious and complete geothermal assessments so far.

Nazarian said the assessment was a successful beginning for the improvement of the energy sector.

“It also reflects the ministry’s commitment to finding alternative energy sources in Lebanon,” the minister added.

UNDP Lebanon Country Director Luca Renda said the CEDRO-UNDP project did not only conduct studies but also worked on implementing them.

“CEDRO has already implemented around 120 energy systems worldwide,” he said.

Spanish Ambassador to Lebanon Milagros Hernando emphasized the importance of renewable energy, adding that Spain was able to produce 50 megawatts of geothermal energy.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on March 25, 2014, on page 5.

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Summary

Energy and Water Minister Arthur Nazarian said Monday that there was more than 70,000 times Lebanon's annual energy consumption available from geothermal energy.

The minister underlined the need begin work on geothermal energy in Lebanon, as the extraction process takes a long time.

Nazarian said that the ideal scenario would be to meet 0.2 percent of Lebanon's total energy needs with geothermal sources by 2025 .

Spanish Ambassador to Lebanon Milagros Hernando emphasized the importance of renewable energy, adding that Spain was able to produce 50 megawatts of geothermal energy.


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