Lebanese bank introduces solar loan scheme for households

Lebanon’s Banque De L’Habitat is rolling out a new scheme to provide loans to help Lebanese households buy and install PV systems. It is running the scheme with the Lebanese Center for Energy Conservation (LCEC), which is providing technical assistance.

Banque De L’Habitat started accepting loan applications for household PV systems on June 20. Interested stakeholders can find information here.

Banque De L’Habitat is 80%-owned by Lebanese commercial banks and 20%-owned by the Lebanese government. The bank, which claims to have a social vision, also signed a memorandum of understanding with the LCEC in May about technical aspects of the scheme.

Specifically, the LCEC will compile a list of qualified PV installers across the country. According to the LCEC, there were 52 installers qualified by mid-June as part of the loan scheme. The open call to companies to join the qualification process is still ongoing. Under the terms of the agreement, the LCEC plans to visit and inspect PV systems installed via the Banque De L’Habitat loan scheme.

Pierre El Khoury, the general director and president of the LCEC board, told pv magazine that “the LCEC proposed to conduct site visits to all installations to be financed by the Banque De L’Habitat loans for various reasons. [Firstly] the expected number of visits is around 100 per month – practically doable. [Secondly] the visits would allow the LCEC technical team to double-check the work of the solar companies qualified as part of the qualification process. And most importantly, the LCEC will build a huge database of solar installations all over Lebanon.”

The bank has yet to reveal number of PV systems it plans to support or the amount of money it is dedicating to the scheme. However, El Khoury told pv magazine that both the bank and the LCEC “estimate around 100 site visits to be conducted each month.”

According to the loan process, all application requests are submitted via the bank’s online portal, which then performs an initial screening of the applications, before sending the ones that meet the necessary criteria to the LCEC. This week, El Khoury confirmed that the LCEC has already received 43 applications that passed the bank’s initial screening process. The LCEC team will now check the technical details of these projects, he said.

PV systems installed via the Banque De L’Habitat loan scheme could theoretically operate via the country’s net-metering program. However, over the last two years, Lebanon has faced an acute financial and political crisis that has also taken a toll on electricity supplies. The state-owned utility, Électricité du Liban, cannot purchase enough fuel to generate electricity at all times and power is only available for a few hours per day.

“The current dire situation of the national electricity network makes net-metering unattractive at this stage, except for the case of Électricité de Zahlé that is able to supply 24 hours of electricity,” said El Khoury.

Électricité de Zahlé is a privately owned electric utility serving Zahlé and the surrounding villages in the Beqaa region. The company can serve local households with electricity around the clock, but it has also to ration power for its larger, industrial consumers.

Lebanon also made news in May for large-scale solar systems, as the government approved 11 licenses for 165 MW of PV capacity. The licenses are part of a 180 MW solar tender that the country initiated in January 2017. However, it remains to be seen whether the international investment community trusts Lebanon’s political and economic regime enough in order to invest in the country and build the newly licensed utility-scale PV projects.

This post appeared first on PV Magazine.

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