8 March 2013 – A study by the Nottingham Trent University has shown that Libya could generate about five times the amount of energy from solar power than it currently produces in crude oil. A study led by the university’s school of architecture, design and the built environment found that oil rich Libya could generate enough renewable power to meet its own demand and a significant part of the world energy demand by exporting electricity.

Libya has an average daily solar radiation rate of about 7.1 kilowatt hours per square metre per day (kWh/m²/day) on a flat plane on the coast and 8.1 kWh/m²/day in the south. By comparison, the UK’s average solar radiation rate is less than half that amount at about 2.95 kWh/m²/day.

If the north African country, which is estimated to be 88% desert, used 0.1% of its landmass to harness solar power, it could produce the equivalent to almost seven million barrels of crude oil per day in energy, the study found. Currently, Libya produces about 1.41 million barrels of crude oil a day.

Researcher Dr Amin Al-Habaibeh says, “Although Libya is rich in renewable energy resources, it is in urgent need of a more comprehensive energy strategy. It is difficult to break the dependency on oil and natural gas, not just in terms of the country’s demand for it, but also in terms of the revenues that it generates.

“Renewable energy technology is still in its early days in Libya and a clear strategy and timetable is needed to take it forward. In particular, work needs to be done to develop the skills and knowledge needed to install and maintain renewable energy systems.”

The study also found that Libya has the potential to generate significant amounts of wind power, as the country is exposed to dry, hot and prolonged gusts. Several locations, including a number along the coast, experience high wind speeds which last for long periods of time.

The availability of renewable energy could provide a good complement to meet peak loads. The study explores whether the benefits of renewables in Libya outstrip the costs of implementing these options, and if not then when this would be likely to happen.