With its demand for energy nearly tripling in the past three decades, Syria has approved a plan calling for investment of $1.48 billion through 2011 to produce power from environmentally friendly renewable energy sources.
The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs cooperated with the Syrian Ministry of Electricity in carrying out a three-year project, funded by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), to develop the plan. UNDP is working with the ministry to organize a meeting of donor countries and organizations to raise funds for implementation.
Renewable energy relies on sources that are not depleted with use, such as solar and wind power, or that can be replenished, such as biomass, which uses agricultural waste or other material.
The plan focuses on wind and solar power, since Syria has limited waterpower resources. About half the planned investment will go for wind power, projected to supply 800 megawatts of electricity.
Solar energy is the second priority, and the plan calls for installation of 16,000 solar power units in 1,000 villages. It is expected that 10,000 solar units will be installed in the semi-arid central plain of Al-Baida and 6,000 elsewhere. The plan also calls for using agricultural and animal waste, and refuse from urban areas, as energy sources.
Renewable energy will fill about four percent of the country's energy total needs by 2011, according to the plan, and create 7,225 new jobs. It will likely reduce emissions by 2.6 million tons a year of greenhouse gases that contribute to global climate change.
Electricity Minister Mouneib Saem Al-Daher said the government decided to use renewable energy, along with conventional sources, to help achieve sustainable human development. This approach corresponds with strategies endorsed at global conferences, he said, and the government will cooperate with international organizations to implement the plan.
UNDP Resident Representative Taoufik Ben Amara said the government's goal of expanding the use of renewable energy coincides with UNDP's mandate of helping countries achieve sustainable human development and the Millennium Development Goals by reducing poverty, creating jobs, improving natural resources management, protecting the environment, and supporting women's empowerment.
The initial price tag for the plan is considerably more than the $410 million it would cost to generate the same amount of power with conventional energy sources such as oil. However, renewable energy has lower operating costs, giving it an advantage over the life span of the installations. The plan estimated the total cost of using conventional energy at $5.6 billion, compared to $3.26 billion for renewable energy.
Annual electricity consumption in Syria was 863-kilowatt hours per person in 1999, the most recent available data, compared to an average of 1,303 kilowatts in the Arab region and 8,431 kilowatts in the world's high-income countries. — (menareport.com)
© 2003 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )