A proposed 6km extension to the Beirut River Solar Snake (BRSS) project has been “postponed indefinitely”, according to a source within the Lebanese Center for Energy Conservation (LCEC).
While no official statement has been issued by either the LCEC or Lebanon’s Ministry of Energy and Water, the source told Construction Week that the development’s backers have taken the decision to pursue a series of smaller solar installations instead.
A BRSS pilot project, which involved the installation of 3,600 crystalline photovoltaic (PV) panels along a 325m stretch of Beirut River, became fully operational in December 2016.
The solar snake’s 6km-long extension was scheduled to complete in by 2020, and would have necessitated the installation of tens of thousands of additional PV panels above the Lebanese capital’s 30m-wide waterway.
While other sources close to the project had expected BRSS’s next phase to be officially announced before the end of 2017, the LCEC employee said that there were currently no plans to push ahead with the extension.
“The BRSS pilot project had a strong impact on Lebanon’s solar PV market, particularly in Beirut,” the source told Construction Week. “It raised awareness of solar power significantly. So, instead of further extending [the BRSS pilot project,] we began to explore the possibility of conducting solar installations elsewhere [in Lebanon].”
As part of this strategy, the LCEC source said that a ground-level solar installation, with a peak capacity of 1MW, had been completed in the southern town of Zahrani. Lebanese authorities have recently launched 10 solar projects – comprising smaller rooftop installations with peak capacities ranging from 100kW to 300kW – in public buildings across the country, they added.
When asked whether the BRSS extension project had been postponed indefinitely, the LCEC source said that they understood this to be the case, but pointed out that no official statement on the matter had been issued by either the LCEC or Lebanon’s Ministry of Energy and Water.
Lebanon-based Phoenix Energy was appointed as the main contractor for the BRSS pilot project, and UK-headquartered structural engineering firm, CCL, designed and installed post-tensioned concrete beams to support the development’s solar panels.
The BRSS pilot project became fully operational in December 2016, and is currently generating 1,655MWh of electricity per year – enough energy to power 10,000 homes.