Harnessing the Desert Sun: Libya’s Vision for a Cleaner Future

renewable energy. solar energy. libya
Libya aims to generate 10% of its power from renewable energy by 2025, following the construction of several large-scale solar photovoltaic plants currently underway.

With 88% of its expansive terrain characterized by desert, Libya has significant potential to shift toward renewable energy. Wind data analysis shows average speeds of 6-7.7 meters per second at 40 meters above ground level, underscoring the nation’s strong wind power potential. In terms of solar power potential, Libya boasts approximately 3,200 annual brightness hours and an average radiation of 6 KWh per m2 per day. For reference, each km2 of desert in the country receives solar energy equivalent to 1.5 million barrels of crude oil annually.

Under its Strategic Plan for Renewable Energy 2013–2025, the Libyan Government has aimed for a 10% contribution from renewables to its energy mix by 2025 and 30% by 2030. Embracing renewable energy solutions marks a pivotal move for the country, whose power generation capacity has been fueled by oil and natural gas to date.

Anticipating a surge in energy requirements, the Renewable Energy Authority of Libya (REAoL) has launched several ambitious projects to grow national grid capacity. Focus has predominantly centered on solar projects, such as the 50 MW Bani Walid Solar PV Park, which is set to begin construction in 2024 and commercial operation in 2025. A 115 MW solar power plant in Tajura and a 100 MW solar power plant in Kufra are also in the construction phase.

To facilitate renewable energy investments, the government has forged several agreements with global energy players. At the Libya Energy & Economic Summit in 2021, REAoL signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with TotalEnergies, in collaboration with the General Electricity Company of Libya (GECOL), to develop the 500 MW Sadada solar PV park in Al-Sadada. The project is poised to be the country’s largest, leveraging cutting-edge solar technology with up to 1.2 million solar panels and generating 152 TWh annually. TotalEnergies has expressed confidence in navigating Libya’s current regulatory framework, emphasizing the project’s commitment to delivering cleaner and more reliable power.

Last February, REAoL embarked on another noteworthy venture – the 1 MW Tawergha solar project  – in partnership with the German GTG Holding consortium and German Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy. The project, poised to be delivered in 2025, will serve as a model for other solar pilot projects. Stakeholders conducted a field visit last April to discuss project requirements, with a view to completing all preliminary studies. Other private sector-led projects include the development of a 200 MW solar power plant in Ghadames by GECOL and AG Energy. A recent MOU between UAE-based Alpha Dhabi Holding and GECOL aims to construct two additional solar plants in Libya, with a target capacity of 2 GW.  

Notably, Libya’s vision for its renewable energy sector transcends its borders and aims to capitalize on its strategic position as the North African gateway to Europe. Last June, the country signed an MOU with Malta outlining plans for a renewable energy interconnector project between the two countries that would facilitate solar power exports to Malta, with the potential to expand to other destinations. Libya’s Minister of Oil and Gas, Mohammed Oun, has emphasized the country’s capacity to supply Europe with renewable energy, which aligns with shared commitments to environmental responsibility and carbon emission reductions. This development could set the stage for further energy trade between Libya and Europe, aligning with the continent’s quest for new energy sources to attain energy security and meet its net zero targets.

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