LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Libya could conserve energy equal to the output of a large power plant if the government and more households implemented measures to reduce and control energy consumption, experts say.
By implementing a range of energy-saving measures – including fitting energy efficient light bulbs, vacuuming only twice a week, reducing the number of air conditioners in use, and turning off electronics when not in use – about 18 million megawatt hours of electricity could be saved each year, equal to the output of a two gigawatt power station, a study by Nottingham Trent University found.
However, action on conserving energy might not be at the top of the agenda for Libyans as they deal with a divided government and attacks by Islamist militants.
The focus of the study is “mainly on understanding domestic energy consumption for long term development rather than the political priorities in the short term,” said Amin Al-Habaibeh, a professor at Nottingham Trent University and lead author of the study.
However, Al-Habaibeh said, “the government and local communities should take further steps to educate Libyans … and therefore reduce the energy bills for households and ease the increased demand burden from the government.” That would “tackle energy security concerns in good time”, he said.
The study, which involved a survey of 429 households in Libya and was published Tuesday in the scientific journal Applied Energy, recommends that the Libyan government should introduce a clearer and firmer energy policy with a focus on increasing awareness of energy costs, using domestic appliance ratings and energy saving equipment, providing tips on how to save energy and pointing to the consequences of people not changing behaviour.
It also found that domestic energy use accounts for 36 percent of the country’s total energy consumption and only 18 percent of households use energy-efficient lighting in their homes.
RISING DEMAND AND BLACKOUTS
Demand for electricity has more than doubled since 2000 as people’s living standards have improved, with more households now owning computers, second or third television sets, and DVD players, the study said. It is expected that the demand for power will increase two-and-a-half fold by the end of 2020.
However, many regions and cities still suffer from blackouts due to shortages of power and gas. Residents in Tripoli and Benghazi have dealt with power outages lasting 10 hours or longer and some power plants have stopped working due to security issues.
“It’s imperative that more measures are introduced in households to help the country cope with the growing demand for electricity,” Al-Habaibeh said. “Not only that, but consumption patterns of electricity in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are now coming under the international spotlight as people recognise the potential role the region could play in exporting renewable energy, particularly solar energy, to Europe.”
Libya is one of the largest oil and gas producing countries in the MENA region, but it has great potential to develop more solar energy, Al-Habaibeh said.
Producing and saving more energy could benefit Libyans by producing additional income if energy is sold to neighbouring European countries, he said.
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