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Investors in Syria warm to nation's solar future

China Daily | Updated: 2020-10-14 10:17
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SWEIDA, Syria-Due to the damage the electricity sector in Syria sustained during the over nine-year long war, solar power has emerged as a promising option to offer clean energy and support the government's electricity grids in the country.

Several projects have been implemented in the northwestern province of Tartous and the southern province of Sweida by investors who have gone into solar power.

The government has offered facilitation for investors who import the solar panels and install them in certain areas close to government electricity stations.

Investors sign a 25-year long contract with electricity authorities and get paid for the energy generated by the solar panels from the government every two months.

Nidal Qarmousheh, the assistant electricity minister, said that the direct losses in the electricity sector during the Syrian war are estimated at 2,040 billion Syrian pounds ($1.63 billion) from the beginning of the crisis in 2011 until the end of 2018.

He said the indirect losses are estimated at 3,262 billion Syrian pounds.

Western sanctions have had negative repercussions on the electricity projects as they led to a halt in relations with international banks and the reluctance of insurance companies to deal with Syrian institutions, Qarmousheh said.

The electricity ministry has put together a strategic plan to implement renewable energy projects until 2030. This plan includes encouraging projects which benefit from renewable energy by granting facilitations and incentives for investors, the official said.

He said the number of solar energy projects that have connected with the electricity grid has so far exceeded 50 with a capacity of 11,522 megawatts.

Solar power is still not able to cover all of the country's needs, but investors said it's the beginning of a new era where clean energy is becoming a promising field of investment.

In Sweida, Samer Elwan, an investor whose company was established in 2015, said his company has established six projects to generate electricity from solar power, noting the future belongs to renewable energy.

Alternative energy

"This investment is successful 100 percent for two main reasons. The first is the free initial material, which is the sun, and the second is that the government buys the electricity from the investors," he said.

Elwan acknowledged the Syrian crisis was the driving force behind establishing solar power investments in the country. "The crisis has been a main and important reason which pushed us to think of the importance of alternative energy," he said.

In another area in Sweida, Median Ayyoub invested in solar power after leaving his job in the United Arab Emirates.

He said that he wanted to invest the money he got from his job abroad into a project that would achieve a public benefit and a personal interest.

"In the circumstances we are living through, I have found that the best thing is to invest in solar energy to support the government's electricity grid and at the same time bring financial benefits to me as an investor," he said.

Ayyoub said the project relies on solar power for production without extra expenditures except for the initial expenses of the solar plates and their installation.

"The project study indicates that the project will return the share capital in five years so the project is economically viable and is beneficial for the investor," he said.

Eiad Khalil, an energy engineer in Tartous Province, said the need for solar power emerged given the damage to the electricity sector in Syria amid high demand. He added that such a situation encouraged investors to deal with solar power in addition to the facilitation the government has provided for investors.

"We are witnessing an increase in the demand for electricity in the country. Some investors started investing in generating electricity through solar energy, which is clean energy," he said.


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