Hello, Lebanon. It’s me, your friendly Green Patriot. If you’ve been following the news, then you are familiar with the debate surrounding our electricity problems.  Minister of Energy Gebran Bassil wants to lease ships from two private companies (one Turkish, the second American) that will provide our existing plants with electricity. Prime Minister Najib Mikati calls for  the construction of power plants on the basis that they are more cost-effective and would remain  under state ownership.

My fellow Lebanese, it goes without saying that we need a solution to our power shortages. Lebanon produces less than 1,400 MW of electricity, but the country’s power  needs exceed 2,500 MW. Besides, electricity rationing could increase in the  coming years as a result of population growth, and increased demands on our resources. So what do we do?

Thus far, this has only been debated in economic terms. Reports say that over  five years, it would cost $429 million dollars to lease the Turkish vessel, which produces 180 MW.  It would cost  $427 million for the same period of time to lease the American vessel that  produces 180 MW. A total of 856 million, and the cost of the leasing does not include the price of the fuel. Building a power plant would cost 480 million and it would last over 25 years. It’s amazing that these plans have cropped up now, of all times. Do you want to know why?

A mere four years ago, on 13 July 2008, at the Paris Summit Meeting of the Heads of States and Governments of the Mediterranean Basin, Lebanon pledged to have 20% of its energy come from renewable sources by 2020. It later reduced that amount to 12%. I see no sign of even that. We said that we were going to use windmill power. I don’t imagine that establishing a wind turbine farm and having it generate electricity for us with no environmental consequences is a bad investment. Think about the damage that both of these projects will cause. Tossing hundreds of millions of dollars into projects that will pollute our air, sea, and our health. Leasing the ships is not a permanent option; it’s too expensive to do so and it is not sustainable. Building yet another power plant is environmentally unsound. So why not simply do what we said we would and build up our renewable energy capacities? Hmmm? Any thoughts?

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