x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Libya aims to triple power capacity within 10 years

Libya wants to triple its power generation capacity within a decade to support what it hopes will be a flood of foreign investment aimed at expanding and diversifying its economy.

Libya wants to triple its power generation capacity within a decade to support what it hopes will be a flood of foreign investment aimed at expanding and diversifying an economy that is heavily dependent on oil and gas exports.

The government's plan includes increasing installed electrical generation capacity to 20 gigawatts by 2020 from about 6.2gw at present. As well as supplying the domestic market, Libya is aiming to export power to Europe.

Tripoli has also set a target of supplying 10 per cent of its energy consumption from renewable sources, especially solar and wind power.

That is more ambitious than the UAE's 7 per cent renewable-energy commitment over the same period, but lower than targets set by some Mediterranean Arab neighbours such as Morocco, Egypt and Lebanon.

"The Great Jamahiriya [Libya's parliament] assigns special interest in the energy sector, acquiring knowledge, as well as increasing the energy efficiency by utilising cutting-edge technology and enhancing rationalisation of energy," the Libyan privatisation and investment board stated in an investment presentation yesterday in Abu Dhabi.

"Libya seeks to significantly contribute to regional and global programmes in the energy sector, leveraging its well-positioned geographic location [between the] European and African continents."

In addition, Tripoli would support environmental protection projects, the presentation indicated.

Libya produces most of its electricity by burning oil. This summer, energy officials said the government had launched strategic initiatives aimed at encouraging gas exploration and development, with a view to using gas for most power generation while exporting more oil. However, in the absence of large new gas discoveries, that could leave Libya without surplus gas to continue its current exports of the fuel, mainly by pipeline to Europe.

Tripoli's new renewable energy strategy may therefore be partly driven by fears that its gas development drive may fail.

On Thursday, Royal Dutch Shell said it was appraising a gas discovery on its concession in Libya's Sirte basin and would continue drilling.

 

tcarlisle@thenational.ae