American University of Beirut

Sustainable Transformation of Lebanon’s Energy System: Development of a Phase Model

​​​​Project Overview

Against the backdrop of the rapidly growing energy demand due to population growth, changing consumer behaviour, increasing urbanisation, and other factors, renewable energy is gaining attention in the MENA region. To guarantee long-term energy security and to meet climate change goals, most MENA countries have developed ambitious plans to scale up their renewable energy production. The significant potential in the MENA region for renewable energy production, in particular wind and solar power, creates an opportunity to produce electricity that is almost CO2 neutral and to boost economic prosperity. However, most countries in the region still use fossil fuels as their dominant energy source, and dependency on fossil fuel imports in some of the highly populated countries poses a risk in terms of energy security and public budget spending. 

A transition towards a renewables-based energy system involves large-scale deployment of renewable energy technology, the development of enabling infrastructure, the implementation of appropriate regulatory frameworks, and the creation of new markets and industries. Therefore, a clear understanding of socio-technical interdependencies in the energy system and the principal dynamics of system innovation is crucial because a clear vision of the direction of the transformation process facilitates the targeted fundamental change. In its turn, an enhanced understanding of transition processes can, therefore, support a constructive dialogue about future energy system developments in the MENA region. It can also enable stakeholders to develop strategies for a transition towards a renewables-based energy system. 

To support such understanding, a phase model for renewables-based energy transitions in the MENA countries has been developed.  This model structures the transition process over time through a set of transition phases. It builds on the German phase model and is further complemented by insights into transition governance and characteristics of the MENA region. The phases are defined according to the main elements and processes shaping each phase, and the qualitative differences between phases are highlighted. The focus of each phase is on technological development; at the same time, insights into interrelated developments in markets, infrastructure and society are provided. Complementary insights from the field of sustainability research provide additional support for the governance of long-term change in energy systems along the phases. Consequently, the phase model provides an overview of a complex transition process and facilitates the early development of policy strategies and policy instruments according to the requirements of the different phases that combine to form the overarching guiding vision. 

In this study, the MENA phase model is applied to the case of Lebanon. The current state of development in the country is assessed and analysed against the phase model. Expert interviews were conducted to gain insights to specify the previously defined abstract components of the model. As a result, further steps for the energy transition are proposed. This application is based on findings from previous studies and projects conducted in the MENA region, while case study specific data was collected by the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs (IFI) at the American University of Beirut (AUB).

Publications and Outputs

Sibel Raquel Ersoy (M.Sc), Junior Researcher in the ​research unit “International Energy Transitions," the Wuppertal Institute
Dr. Julia Terrapon-Pfaff, Senior Researcher, the Wuppertal Institute
Marc Ayoub, Energy Policy Researcher and Programme Coordinator, Energy Policy and Security Program, IFI
Rawan Akkouch, Research Assistant, Energy Policy and Security Program, IFI

Infographic 1: "Lebanon's Phase Model"​​

Project Contact Persons 

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