The Beirut River Solar Snake
To contribute to the mitigation of the serious effects of carbon-intensive activities on the planet and the extensive pollution problems within cities in Lebanon, the Lebanese Government committed in 2009 during the Conference of Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to increase the share of renewables in the country to 12% of the projected total electricity and heat demand in 2020.
As a first step to reach this goal, the Lebanese Ministry of Energy and Water (MEW) and LCEC prepared and launched a tender for the first grid-connected photovoltaic (PV) plant in Lebanon’s history, the iconic Beirut River Solar Snake (BRSS).
The plant aims to generate and supply the national grid of Electricité du Liban (EDL) with clean energy to eventually meet the energy needs of end-user households. Its objectives are to promote renewable energy in Lebanon, drive the solar PV market, and demonstrate the role of renewables in bridging the gap between electrical demand and supply.
The BRSS project initially consisted of different phases which began with a call for expressions of interest (EOI) launched on April 23, 2013. The first phase consisted of an installed capacity of one megawatt peak (MWp) extending from the Yerevan Bridge to the Nahr Bridge over an area of around 10,000 m2. The execution of the first phase started in July 2014, and the plant has been connected to the grid since September 2015.
Due to the lack of cheap and suitable space in the capital, the innovative idea behind the Beirut river solar snake project was to take advantage of the “unused” space above the Beirut river to supply green energy. This was the only solution to install a large-scale photovoltaic farm in the middle of the city and to be large enough to attract attention and raise awareness on its potential.
In 2019, BRSS won the prestigious environmental award “Energy Globe Award” under the national category, competing with more than 2,500 projects submitted by more than 180 countries.