Renewable energy will get a boost from a grant of US$4.3 million awarded recently to Lebanon.NEW YORK, New York, US, 2001-07-30 [SolarAccess.com] Renewable energy will get a boost from a grant of US$4.3 million awarded recently to Lebanon. The grant is the single largest environmental contribution to Lebanon from the United Nations Development Program, and the funds will finance a new initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, conserve energy and cut the cost for electricity to the public sector, businesses and households. Lebanon wants to bring about a market environment to conserve energy and develop alternative fuel sources that will respond to an estimated annual growth rate in energy demand of up to 6 percent, combined with a lack of domestic sources of fossil fuel energy. The UNDP funding will encourage the installation of solar power equipment and the introduction of natural gas over the next ten years. The project is also designed to cut Lebanon’s fuel bill by a third from this year’s estimated $800 million. The agreement was signed in Beirut by Yves de San of UNDP and Lebanon’s energy minister Mohammed Abdel-Hamid Beydoun. “The project will work to strengthen the capacity of the Government of Lebanon to implement and sustain long-term energy efficiency efforts that have a positive impact on the global as well as the local environment,” said de San. “It will remove barriers to the effective adoption of energy efficiency measures in the Lebanese energy sector, both public and private, as well as the introduction of energy conservation.” The five-year project is funded within the framework of the Global Environmental Facility and will be launched within the next few months. The total cost of $4.9 million will be covered jointly through the new UNDP grant and the Lebanese government, which has put up $1 million. An additional $500,000 will be secured by UNDP from other sources. The UNDP grant will also allow Lebanon to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 1 percent a year. The country’s electricity industry emitted 12 megatonne of CO2 in 1994, or 31 percent of the country’s total emissions. “Once we implement this project, we will be closer to the Kyoto environmental agreement than the United States,” adds Beydoun. The project will also help reform the Ministry’s administration by establishing a Lebanese Centre for Energy Conservation & Planning. The centre will serve as the focal point for conservation activities and will be in charge of standardizing equipment, streamlining statistical processes and setting up specific financing mechanisms to create incentives for investments in energy efficient technologies.