Lebanon has seen relatively small development of solar in recent years but its price trajectory differs little from that of more mature PV markets, characterized by a steepling fall in prices and increasing investment.
According to the 2017 Solar PV Status Report for Lebanon, published by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the cost of turnkey solar has fallen by 79% – from $7.186 per kW in 2011 to just $1.545 per kW in 2017. Last year alone, prices dropped by 17.4%, from $1.872 per kW in 2016.
“The major contributor to this drop remains the drop in the cost of equipment, but local competition during 2017 significantly increased as well, due to numerous tenders by various national and international stakeholders which helped bring the prices down,” the UNDP report notes.
The authors of the publication discuss the possibility of a similar price fall this year, as in March the Lebanese customs authority exempted imported solar PV panels from duty.
Big tenders will ramp up PV
Meanwhile, the country’s cumulative installed PV power reached 35.4 MW at the end of 2017, after an additional 11.6 MW was added during the year. That meant solar amounted to 0.35% of the country’s power demand, slightly up from 0.26% a year earlier.
Total investments in the solar sector grew 31% year-on-year in 2017, to $18 million, while the number of companies with a PV operation increased from 14 to 61.
A big jump in solar deployment is expected in the next two or three years, as a result of two tenders for large-scale solar the Lebanese government recently implemented. A first, 180 MW tender was launched last year while a second, 300 MW tender that included storage was launched in April.
The electricity market of the Middle Eastern nation is 90% controlled by state-owned utility Electricité du Liban (EDL), which owns and operates thermal power plants with a combined capacity of around 1 GW.