Beirut PV River

Written during my PhD studies in 2016, but later disregarded in the final dissertation since it was no longer directly relevant to my topic on non-active renewables.

It should be mentioned also that, in parallel to the building energy conservation efforts, consistent work is put onto renewable. Statistics (Ipsos, 2008) and studies (Jouni et al, 2013) show that solar thermal heating market is on a sharp continuous rise since 2000. When it comes to solar photovoltaic (PV) cells it is starting to emerge more in the governmental institutions: street lightings are turning to PV with batteries on or below every light pole. More interestingly a recent, ambitious project (fig.1) by the Ministry of Energy and Water has covered a length of some 327m by 32m width of the Beirut River** by Photovoltaic Cells linked directly to the grid with 1.08MWpeak, and 1620MW.h/year (fig.2).

Figure 1: (old) view of the Beirut PV River Snake. Photo Credit Philippe Saleh, 2016. It is interesting to note the initial sponsors’s name shown on this old picture are now removed
Figure 2: The banner next to the PV Array covering a part of the Beirut River, showing the specification and the expected output. Photo Credit Philippe Saleh, 2016.

The Blackfriar station Photovoltaic cover

This ambitious project is similar to the London Blackfriar station solar bridge where some 4400 solar panels are covering a trains’ bridge (fig. 3). A comparison between both (table 3) shows that 22% more panels are needed for the London weather to reach the same power peak outcome of Beirut. Beirut overall outcome is some 80% higher due to the much longer number of sunlight hours. The calculated yearly hours for solar radiation above 100 W/m2 for Beirut (meteonorm 7) weather file is 2769 hours whereas for London all inclusive hours of solar radiation are 1400, almost half (Ike, 2012; London solar story, 2014; Blackfriar solar panel, 2014; Solarcentury, 2014; Renewable Energy Focus, 2014).

Figure 3: Promotional poster showing The Blackfriars station over the River Thames (Photo Credit: Philippe Saleh 2012)
Table 1: Comparative values between BlackFriar and the Beirut Pv River

** Within the climate of Lebanon, the Beirut river is a seasonal river, which dries out in late spring (May) till early fall with the start of the rain (October).