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Libya belongs to the EU-MENA region

Libya belongs to the DESERTEC Region EU-MENA. Libya's energy market is price distorted through high subsidies for fossil fuels. The country is heavily dependent upon oil and gas, which make up 100% of the energy supply and 70% of the country's GDP. Through this reliance and focus on fossil fuels, renewable energy has not had a chance and is, apart from a few pilot projects, non-existant[1]. At the same time Libya receives enough solar radiation to produce more than 3 times the electricity that the world will need in 2050.[2][3]

Even before the revolution started, the energy market had been suffering from a lack of transparency and clear policies and frameworks. Today Libya has the opportunity to start again, this time with renewable energy and the DESERTEC Concept into a clean and low carbon future.


Development of energy sector

Renewable energy targets[1]
Year  % of total production
2015 6%
2010 10%
2025 25%
2030 30%


In 2007 total electricity production stood at 25.5 TWh. "Installed generating capacity in 2008 was 6196 MW. The growth rate in peak demand over the past 10 years has been between 8 and 10% per year"[1]. "The shortfall in capacity is around 1,000MW". As a consequence to the power shortages the country has had to ration power. "The increasing use of air conditioning has contributed to the problem and has caused peak demand to shift from the winter to the summer". [1]

"About 32% of the electricity generated is from light fuel oil burnt in combined cycle plant."[1]

Oil & Gas

Libya has very large oil and gas reserves: 46.42 billion bbl (world rank=9)[4] and 1,548 billion cubic meters (world rank=23)[5] respectively. "The country should be back at its prewar output of 1.6 million barrels of oil per day within 15 months" (stand: October 2011)[6]

In 2004 a major gas pipeline opened from Libya to Italy called Greenstream. Before the revolution it transported 9 billion cubic meters worth of gas a year to Italy. That is about 12 percent of Italy's annual needs.[7]

Primary energy supply consists of oil products (90%) and natural gas (10%). "The oil sector provides about 70% of GDP, having risen from 50% in 2002 in line with rising oil prices." Libya is substituting natural gas for oil in power generation so as to increase oil exports. Almost half (48%) of the final energy use goes to transport.[1]


While Libya is heavily dependent upon fossil fuels, it has an ubundance of renewable energy sources, especially solar energy. There are few conflicts of land use; 88% of its area is considered desert and much of this is relatively flat". Daily the country receives up to 7.5 kWh/m2 of solar radiation on its horizontal plane and has 3000-3500 hours of sunshine per year.[1] According to the MED-CSP study created by the DLR[2] Libya has a technical solar energy potential of 139600 TWh/year, which is enough to satisfy the world's electricty consumption in 2050 three times over. Below the figures from the study:

"10% of electricity used in Libya is for domestic hot water" yet almost no solar water heaters are installed, because of the expensive initial cost and cheap alternative electricity.[1]


Wind complements solar well, because wind is most abundant where solar raditation is least (at the coast). "The average wind speed at a 40 meter height is between 6-7.5 m/s".[1]

Energy policies and steps towards DESERTEC

Situation before revolution

Even before the revolution began it was suggested that the policy making process in Libya "lacks transparency and inter-institutional communication structures" and that the country "lacks effective coordination and communication among entities in the energy sector; each entity has its own policy and moves in different direction"[1]. MVV decon and the Wuppertal institute explain that "energy prices are subsidised heavily in all economic sectors. In such an economic environment it is difficult to foster renewable energies and energy efficiency on a cost-effective basis". Apart from a few pilot projects, renewable energy is not used. Libya also has no efficiency strategies or feed in tarrifs.[1]

In 2010, government subsidies for fossil fuels were estimated at "18.5% of government expenditure or about 70% of GDP". The country incurs an estimated cost of 3.7% of GDP per year due to its inefficient use of resources. MVV decon and the Wuppertal institute therefore conclude that "Libya’s economy is very energy-inefficient" and "that the true costs of electricity are an order of magnitude above existing price levels". Furthermore the heavy dependence on fossil fuels has many negative externalities, for example "Libya’s per capita CO2 emissions are higher than most countries in the EU and are by far the highest of the developing countries in the Mediterranean region".

Steps towards DESERTEC:

Establishment of REAOL

A first positive step towards renewable energy was the establischment of the Renewable Energy Authority of Libya (REAOL), which created a renewable energy roadmap up to 2030. The target is to have a 30% renewable energy share of the total eletricty production by 2030. Furthermore the objectives of REAOL are to:

REAOL mid-term plan (2008-2012)

Furthermore REAOL has prepared a mid-term plan (2008-2012) to promote renewable energy and to meet the targets presented in the table "Renewable energy targets". "The Plan addresses projects in solar and wind and the possibilities of stimulating local manufacture of equipment for renewable energy"[1] :

The wind farm plan comprises several projects with a total capacity of almost 1 GW:

  • Dernah wind farm (120 MW in two stages)
  • Al Maqrun wind farm (240 MW in two stages)
  • Western region farms at Meslata, Tarhunah and Asabap (250 MW).
  • South Eastern region wind farms at Gallo, Almasarra, Alkofra, Tazrbo (120 MW)
  • South Western region wind farms at Aliofra, Sabha, Gatt, Ashwairef (120 MW)

The solar plan includes photovoltaics (PV) and solar thermal technology:

  • 5-10 MW PV plants connected to the Aljofra, Green Mountain and Sabha grid
  • Extending the use of PV technologies in remote areas (2 MW)
  • 1000 roof top systems for residential areas (3 MW)
  • Feasibility study for CSP plant in unspecified location (100 MW)
  • Developing a joint venture with local and foreign investors for the manufacture of solar water heaters for the local and export markets (40,000 units / year) and assembly of PV systems (50 MW)

Establishment of energy council

On September 8th 2009 a further positive step towards renewable energy was taken by the Prime Minister. He established an energy council that will convene every 3 months and will be responsible for:[1]

  • Preparing and suggesting policies and strategies for the energy sector and coordinating these among stakeholders
  • Developing the energy sector structure
  • Establishing policy to manage demand
  • Establishing a strategy for pricing
  • Collecting available information
  • Evaluating sources of energy, especially solar
  • Energy forecasting
  • Establishing procedures for investment on the energy sector
  • Approving contracts with foreign companies

Impact of revolution on energy situation

Libya is facing a new beginning. Nonetheless the short term situation is likely to be even worse now than it was before the revolution. Rebels cut of critical energy and electricity supplies as a tool to put pro-gaddafi forces under pressure[8]. Once the immediate challenges have been overcome, the country is likely going to return to pre-war conditions in the short term future.[6] Opinions vary on how Libya will develop in the long term and what changes the country will experience.[9]

Next steps politically

The BBC has suggested the following steps for Libya's short term future (stand October 2011)[10]:

Jeremy Bowen argues: "the biggest challenge - building a new system of government from the bottom up - could become their biggest advantage".[11] Once a working government has been found, immediate problems have been fixed and the country is in a position to plan long term, one can hope that the country takes advantage of its "new start" and revitalises the promising initiatives prepared before the revolution, as described in the section "Situation before revolution" above.

Next steps to implement DESERTEC

Once the immediate challenges have been overcome, and the country is in a position to plan its future, the following aspects are key in order to increase the share of renewable energy and create a path towards implementing the DESERTEC Concept:

One must take a positive perspective and see Libya's current situation as a chance to start over: an opportunity also to revolutionise its energy market and implement the DESERTEC Concept.

See also

External links


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 MVV decon, Wuppertal Institute. 2010. Country Report Libya. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 24 October].
  2. 2.0 2.1 German Aerospace Center, (DLR), 2005. MED-CSP Concentrating Solar Power for the Mediterranean Region. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 22 September 2011].
  3. 3.0 3.1 Teske, S., 2010. Energy [R]evolution. 3rd ed. Netherlands: Greenpeace International, European Renewable Energy Council (EREC).
  4. BP. 2011. BP Statistical Review of World Energy June 2011. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 27 October 2011].
  5. CIA. 2011. Libya. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 27 October 2011].
  6. 6.0 6.1 BBC. 2011. Libyan official: Elections coming soon. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 24 October 2011].
  7. CBSNEWS. 2011. Eni reopens gas pipeline from Libya to Italy. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 24 October 2011].
  8. Chatham House. 2011. Libya: Policy Options for Transition. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 28 October 2011].
  9. Chatham House. 2011. Libya Working Group. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 32 October 2011].
  10. BBC. 2011. Libya's new rulers declare country liberated. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 24 October 2011].
  11. Bowen, J. 2011. Libya's new rulers declare country liberated. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 24 October 2011].
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