Lebanon, a country of 4.5 million citizens, now hosts approximately 1,030,000 registered (with UNHCR) Syrian refugees. The majority of refugees are being hosted in communities that are among the poorest in the country, such as Akkar and Dinniye. Within that context, there are so many power outages in Lebanon; but in these poor regions, it can happen for 12 hours sometimes, even 20, and these host communities have no lighting until the power comes back. Delivering urgent and basic energy for indoor lighting to the most vulnerable is of extreme importance for people’s general well-being, education and health. Using solar energy seems to be a viable way to provide these rural communities with an additional cost-effective and independent source of electricity.
For that reason, the UNDP decided to implement solar PV systems in these homes. The project aims to light homes in an environmentally safe way to compensate for backup generation. The project is funded by the Government of Netherlands and implemented by the UNDP in partnership with the Ministry of Energy and Water. These communities are provided with solar PV lighting kits that will provide 60W of energy to light three living spaces and one outlet for phone charging. The loads offered to the selected sites requiring the PV lighting kits have the main consumption spread along the evening and night. During the daytime, the PV generation recharges the battery and supplies the loads (if any). If there are lamps connected during this period, they will be also supplied from this current. During the evening, the charged battery supplies the lighting loads as needed. A user interface shows the user the status and the remaining capacity. Feedback from users has been very positive: they function very well and have been very beneficial for these families.
This project is linked to many of the sustainable development goals. The implementation of the systems is linked to goal #1: “No poverty”. By 2030, there should be equal rights to appropriate new technology and economic resources, as well as access to basic services, through enhanced development, which in this case are the PV systems. Not only is the project enhanced technological development, but it is aimed for the poor, giving them free access to necessary energy.
Additionally, this project is linked to goal #7: “Affordable and clean energy”. This new technology focuses on universal access to energy, an increased use of renewable energy as PV systems are more and more implemented in Lebanon, and an improvement in energy efficiency. This technological upgrade supplies modern and sustainable energy services.
This project is connected to goal #12: “Responsible consumption and production”. Sustainable consumption and production aim at “doing more and better with less”; this project does exactly that: it produces more energy with less pollution. In fact, producing and using electricity more efficiently reduces both the amount of fuel needed to generate electricity and the amount of greenhouse gases and other air pollution emitted as a result, leading to goal #3: “Good health and well-being”. This reduction of pollution is crucial to maintain our people’s good health as we are creating a cleaner environment to live in.
The implementation of these PV systems is linked to goal #11: “Sustainable cities and communities”. adaptation and mitigation to climate change, creating more sustainable and healthier communities. By installing more and more of these systems in people’s houses, we are creating sustainable communities by implementing policies towards resource efficiency, and creating healthier environments to live in. The system is also a way of mitigating and adapting to climate change, which leads us to goal #13: “Climate action”. Electricity from renewable resources such as solar, geothermal, and wind generally does not contribute to climate change since no fuels are combusted. It is a way of generating energy that produces no greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels and reduces some types of air pollution; diversifying energy supply and reducing dependence on fuels. Solar panels are a way of mitigating climate change, using renewable energy instead of polluting the air.
Finally, the PV systems are associated with goal #9: “Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure”. By 2030, we need to upgrade the infrastructure and retrofit industries to make them sustainable, with increased resource-use efficiency and greater adoption of clean and environmentally sound technologies and industrial processes. This technological progress of solar panels is the foundation of efforts to achieve environmental objectives, such as increased resource and energy-efficiency.
To conclude, this project is crucial and very beneficial, for our environment and to support economic development and human well-being. It focuses on universal and affordable access to energy, increased energy efficiency, and the increased use of renewable energy through new economic and job opportunities. It is crucial to creating more sustainable and inclusive communities and resilience to environmental issues like climate change. As the team went to visit the homes to check the systems’ installation, it was observed that the people who have the least, give the most: they are very welcoming, kind and generous. In the hope that someday, people would modify their ways so that people who have most also give most.