Version classiqueVersion mobile
OpenEdition Books

Atlas of Lebanon

Part 6 - Crisis-Striken Public Services

The Eletricity Crisis

Éric Verdeil

Texte intégral

1Power rationing has marked the life of Lebanese citizens since the Civil War and shows the State’s inability to meet the population’s needs in this field. While demand has incessantly been increasing, despite deep inequalities in the access to electricity, the successive governments have not been able to reorganize a poorly managed sector and to maintain the production capacity, which should be increasing. The population has become largely dependent on generators, while solar water heaters and solar photovoltaic panels have been the subject of a limited breakthrough.

A worsening shortage

Figure VI-20: Power rationing by region 2004–2015

Figure VI-20: Power rationing by region 2004–2015

2Power rationing, which had gradually decreased over the post-war years, has again started to increase since the 2006 war against Israel, because of the damages inflicted to the network by bombings, of the increased demand, and of insufficient investment in the necessary renovation works in the existing plants. While the demand is estimated to exceed 3,000 MW, the available capacity amounts to barely 2,000 MW. This may be explained by the delay in introducing natural gas to fuel power plants, inadequate pricing, the persistent technical losses affecting the network, and fraudulent connections (source of about 25% of the losses, the spatial distribution of which has been impossible to determine). All these factors result in massive deficits for the public company Electricity of Lebanon (Electricité du Liban, EDL), which remain the first cause of the level of public debt.

3The spatial distribution of power rationing is highly uneven. For a long time, power cuts almost didn’t affect administrative Beirut. Since 2006, they have reached 3 then 5 hours per day. Other regions are far more affected, some even remaining in the dark for half a day. This inequality results from a choice made by the Council of Ministers and confirmed on several occasions, despite demands for a fairer distribution. Because of the large subsidies that have kept the price of electricity unchanged since 1994, this distribution system results in giving a financial advantage to the capital’s residents, who are on average wealthier than the rest of the population.

A rising demand despite consumption inequality

4The public company has to meet the demand for electricity from a growing number of subscribers. From 2005 to 2013, EDL recorded more than 200,000 additional subscribers (+17%). While 42% of the customers live in the capital area, the biggest number of new connections has been registered in the Bekaa Valley as well as in the area of Tripoli and in some suburbs of Beirut.

5However, the average consumption recorded over the period (an indicator that allows an analysis smoothing the delays in payment and billing) reveals large differences, with a ratio of 1 to 10 between the northern parts of the Bekaa Valley and Beirut. This first reflects the inequalities linked to power rationing and the disparities in standard of living between the center and the peripheries. These inequalities in consumption also probably hint at the existence of significant fraudulent connections in some peripheral regions.

Figure VI-21: Number of electricity subscribers in Lebanon 2005–2013

Figure VI-21: Number of electricity subscribers in Lebanon 2005–2013

Figure VI-22: Average electric power consumption by region

Figure VI-22: Average electric power consumption by region

Which alternatives?

6Faced with power cuts occurring frequently and maintained over time, the Lebanese population has developed multiple forms of adaptation. The most spectacular one is the development of alternative networks, at house, building or neighbourhood-levels, that supply electricity from diesel-powered generators, with a variable amperage. According to a 2013 study, 70% of the Lebanese households and 76% of the shop owners have been using this type of solution. Despite a growing control exerted by the municipalities, these systems have remained polluting and expensive, and consequently very unequal.

7Since 2011, the households’ equipment with individual solar water heaters and photovoltaic panels has been quickly rising, encouraged by subsidized loans supported by international funding partners and the Bank of Lebanon. However, their spread has remained limited and complicated in the mostly collective housing units located in the cities.

Figure VI-23: Solar water heaters, solar photovoltaic panels and water tanks on a building in Qalamoun, near Tripoli: faced with crisis-stricken urban services, the Lebanese population use more and more alternative devices

Figure VI-23: Solar water heaters, solar photovoltaic panels and water tanks on a building in Qalamoun, near Tripoli: faced with crisis-stricken urban services, the Lebanese population use more and more alternative devices

(© Éric Verdeil, 2014)

Table des illustrations

Titre Figure VI-20: Power rationing by region 2004–2015
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifpo/docannexe/image/13296/img-1.png
Fichier image/png, 32k
Titre Figure VI-21: Number of electricity subscribers in Lebanon 2005–2013
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifpo/docannexe/image/13296/img-2.png
Fichier image/png, 139k
Titre Figure VI-22: Average electric power consumption by region
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifpo/docannexe/image/13296/img-3.png
Fichier image/png, 92k
Titre Figure VI-23: Solar water heaters, solar photovoltaic panels and water tanks on a building in Qalamoun, near Tripoli: faced with crisis-stricken urban services, the Lebanese population use more and more alternative devices
Crédits (© Éric Verdeil, 2014)
URL http://books.openedition.org/ifpo/docannexe/image/13296/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 137k

© Presses de l’Ifpo, 2019

Conditions d’utilisation : http://www.openedition.org/6540