Power Generation in Syria

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Overview

Syria, like many of its Middle Eastern neighbours, is facing increasing demands for electricity from its booming population.[1]

In recent years Syria has expanded its capacity in electric power generation. Installed capacity in 2010 was 7,800MW, compared to little over 4,000MW in early 1998. Annual demand for electricity has been growing at an average rate of 10% in recent years. The government was planning to expand this capacity by 8,000MW to 15,800MW by 2018, requiring an investment of $7.6 billion, according to the state-owned Public Establishment for Electricity Generation and Transmission (PEEGT).[2]

Feedstocks for power generation

As of 2010, oil and gas account for more than 90% of total power generation, the remainder coming from hydropower and very limited biomass. Although the majority of power generation in Syria focused on thermal power plants, the Syrian government began to explore the possibility of utilizing renewable energy resources such as wind and solar.

Typically in the past Syria's power plants have used heavy fuel oil but more recently natural gas has become more popular.[3] According to the US Energy Information Administration, all of Syria's oil-fired power stations are being converted to natural gas, and Syria's domestic gas demand is expected to more than double by 2020, obliging Syria to import gas to meet domestic demand.[4] However as of 2011, 60% of Syria’s electricity was still generated from oil.[5]

As far as renewable sources of energy go, Syria has excellent wind and solar resources and international companies such as Vestas have invested, as have Turkish and Ukrainian companies as part of joint ventures with Syrian partners.[3]

Electricity Shortages

According to comments made by business journalist Jihad Yazigi, there has never been an abundance of electricity in Syria. While the country has been able to produce enough electricity to cover its needs, for many years there has been a shortage.

According to press reports in 2009, the electricity shortages in Syria were producing summertime blackouts in Syria's largest cities and suburbs. The blackout lasted for around two hours in the morning and two hours at night. The Syrian Electricity Minister commented that Syria was "facing a real crisis".[6]

Development of Infrastructure

In 2009, after years of struggling to increase the output of the Syrian power sector to meet the growing demands on a swelling population, the government turned to the private sector and invited actors in to develop the country's power generation infrastructure.[7]

An important part of Syria's power infrastructure was built with the support of the European Union in the context of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, either using loans from the European Investment Bank or by direct corporate foreign investments. Greek company METKA SA and Italy's Ansaldo were awarded a $650 million contract to build a power plant in Deir Ali, south of Damascus, and the two companies began working on the construction of a gas-fired power plant in Deir Ez-Zor in 2010.[8]

In early February 2010, the government and PEEGT launched a search for technical consultants to work on Syria's first independent power producer (IPP), a 220-250MW plant to be built in Nassserieh, north-east of Damascus.[2]

In May 2011, following several weeks of pro-democracy protests and government crack-downs in Syria, Qatari company QatarElectricity and Water Co cancelled plans to build two power plants in Syria. The projected value of the two plants had been $1 billion and would have involved building plants in the north-eastern town of Swedeih and the industrial area of Adra, close to Damascus.[9]

References

  1. Syria's Water and Energy NeedsAssyrian International News Agency, 18 March 2009.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Syria - The Power SectorThe Free Library, 2010.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Syria’s renewable energy potentialPower Engineering International, 1 June 2010.
  4. Countries: SyriaEIA, August 2011.
  5. Syria's Energy Future After the UpheavalEKEM Europe Energy Policy Observatory, 29 August 2011.
  6. Syria’s electricity shortfall set to worsenSyria Today, September 2009.
  7. Syria turns to private sector to ease electricity shortageGlobal Arab Network, 27 September 2009.
  8. Syria's Energy Future After the UpheavalEKEM Europe Energy Policy Observatory, 29 August 2011.
  9. Qatar firm cancels plans for Syria power plantsReuters, 2010.


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