Libya: current electricity supply situation and future prospects
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Libya: current electricity supply situation and future prospects

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Despite the positive outlook and ambitious future plans put forward by the Libyan government to secure more of Libya’s electricity supply from renewable sources, there are immediate challenges facing the Energy sector in Libya and electricity supplies in particular.

Recently armed militias targeted the General Electricity Company in Libya. This happened as part of the armed takeover in Tripoli by militias that brought some of the government’s institutions to standstill by blockading buildings and evicting officials and employees from their offices. Furthermore, there have been power cuts in Tripoli after clashes in the Jebel Nafusa area on May 1, 2013 -- destroyed transmission lines taking power to the capital, causing disruptions to electricity supplies to some of the districts in the capital.

However, the Ministry of Electricity is working hard to secure mobile generator units to cope with the expected increase in demand for supplies as citizens will started to use their air conditioning units excessively to cope with the high temperatures that accompany the summer season.

The mobile power turbines, supplied by US-based APR Energy, will run off diesel, providing a fast interim solution to the country’s energy deficit. The electricity deficit will be reduced with this interim project for mobile generator units this summer, which promises to put an end to the country’s power cuts. The Electricity Minister, Ali Mohammed Muhairiq believes that mobile power units should top up an expected electricity deficit of 500-600 megawatts (MW) during the peak summer season. Minister Muhairiq said that he expected the power generators to be in place by the 1st of July.

The electricity Libya is presently facing a serious energy shortages, due to poor or damaged infrastructure. As Libya eyes strong economic growth for the next few years and consequent rising demand for energy, some worthwhile steps need to be taken to install new capacity for generation of the required energy sources. Even now, the demand in Libya exceeds supply and hence “load-shedding” is a common phenomenon through frequent power shutdowns on different parts of the country.

All possible measures need to be adopted, i.e., to conserve energy at all levels, and use all available sources to enhance production of energy, including alternate and renewable energy sources. Needless to say that if Libya wishes to continue its economic development and improve the quality of life of its people, it has to make serious efforts towards framing a coherent energy policy. The good news is that, the government is very serious about developing a coherent energy policy in Libya by concentrating on renewable energy infrastructure and projects. The Libyan government has set itself a target to supply 20% of the electricity supply in the country from renewable energy by 2020.

The main technical causes of the shortfall in the ability of energy failures in Libya include, Insufficient installed generating capacity, transmission system unable to transmit the load imposed, Grid stations and related equipment unable to carry the load imposed and substantial distribution system of power supply. These technical challenges are further complicated by management related causes for this shortfall in the sector including Faulty management information system and Failure of forecast and future planning. However, the General Electricity Company in Libya has announced recent restructuring initiatives amid at

The government is determined to find quick fix solutions to the current electricity supply deficit, and the mobile generator units seem to be the best quick solution for now. However, a number of approaches can be used to address the roadblocks which renewable energies technologies (RETs) usually face. The government of Libya must take bold steps towards restructuring energy policy in order to increase energy security and move towards a sustainable energy future, and become a leader in renewable energy production, with potential of supplying neighboring countries like Egypt and Tunisia, as well as the European market.

Primarily, policies should focus on bridging the competitive gap between RETs and traditional fuels through measures such as subsidy transfers, feed-in tariffs and accounting for negative and positive externalities. Of course, increasing the competitiveness of RETs alone is not sufficient; issues such as poor infrastructure, financing and technology access must also be addressed.

However, the biggest challenge lies in initially stimulating growth in renewable energy. Upon addressing the most significant challenges facing RETs, market penetration will naturally develop and the support for addressing further RET challenges will ensue. The passage way towards a sustainable energy future in Libya, and for Libya to becoming leading energy supplier is by no means simple, but ways forward certainly exists.

Although the successive transitional governments have presented a number of approaches to encourage the growth of renewable energy in Libya, all of these solutions will undoubtedly require significant effort and dedication on behalf of the government. Libya must consider the long-term social, economic and environmental benefits of renewable energy power generation for its people. Investing in sustainable energy technologies today will pave the way towards a secure energy future for tomorrow and position Libya as one of the leading energy suppliers in the region and potentially in the world.