BEIRUT: The Environment Ministry is to build hundreds of solar water heaters on the roofs of public institutions, in a project financed by the Italian government.

The project, which aims to install around 900 heaters providing hot water for more than 5,000 people, was launched Thursday by caretaker Environment Minister Mohammad Rahhal and the Italian Ambassador to Lebanon Giuseppe Morabito.

Funding for the project, expected to cost nearly 775,000 euros, will come from the Italian government through the Italian Developmental Cooperation.

Speaking at the launch, Rahhal said the project aims to boost the environment ministry’s capacities in the renewable energy field.

“Climate change, as we all know, is a threat [to] Lebanon and most of the developing countries which are having hard time coping with its negative repercussions,” he said.

“The environment is not ours but our children’s,” he added.

Speaking at the ceremony, Morabito said the initiative represents a major step towards sustainable development. He also thanked Rahhal for his commitment to the project.

The government unveiled a plan in April of last year to move the country to a 12 percent dependence on renewable energies by 2020. Its current usage is 4 percent.

That commitment includes the installation of 190,000 square meters of solar water heaters by 2014 1,050,000 square meters by 2020, with an estimated reduction potential of over 3 million tons of CO2.

Lebanon has 300 days of sun a year and several environmental experts have suggested solar energy could also provide practical means to reduce energy costs and the burden on Electricite du Liban, which struggles to produce enough electricity to service the country.

In a 2009 study on a family home in south Lebanon, the saving to EdL of a solar water heater was calculated to be $415 a year.

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(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News ::