Posted April 1998
FAO Project GCP/SYR/003/ITA
Range Management and Rehabilitation in the Syrian Steppe
Final Mission Report by Daniele Guidi
Solar Energy Consultant
This page presents the Table of Contents and Introduction of the report. The full document is available for downloading by FTP (Word 6.0 for Windows, .ZIP, 56K). See also Project proposals: Renewable energy development in Al Badia region
During implementation of the Project GCP/SYR/003/ITA on Range Management and Rehabilitation in the Syrian Steppe, it has become evident that the rangeland resources in Al Badia region are not only exploited by the overgrazing activities of the large sheep and camel populations, and by the only recently banned agricultural activity, but also the community of bedouin nomadic tribes creates a considerable impact on the rangeland for fulfilling its energy needs, especially space heating and cooking energy needs.
Moreover, it appeared evident that the provision of an alternative source of electricity service, such as solar photovoltaic electricity with small mobile systems, could contribute to enhance the quality of life in these communities as well as support in the effort to preserve their migratory customs, thus helping to avoid the amplification of impacts on the rangeland associated with settlement.
This short term consultancy originates from the need - expressed at the level of the Deputy Minister of Ministry of Agriculture and Agrarian Reforms and approved by the Tripartite review meeting of March 1997 - to investigate what role renewable energy (RE) could play in alleviating the mentioned environmental management issue. Within a framework of integrated rural development, renewable energy can play a role in contributing to the general development objective of the Range Management Project: to rehabilitate the rangelands and to reverse the decline in both land productivity and living standards of bedouin families.
This report attempts to offer a general overview of the rural energy issues identified with field observations and with the participation of the project target group. The second part of the report is a pre-feasibility study for the introduction of renewable energy systems as commercially viable options. Given the limited time of investigation, the emphasis of the report is less focused on the theoretical considerations and on the policy aspects of renewable energy for rural development, but rather on the operational advice needed to implement a rural energy "privatization" initiative: supporting, through full technology transfer  a basic case of energy self-sustainance (or self-production), where the end-users harvest and manage their own energy balance. With this operational approach, the study is focused on the development of the following contents:
Al Badia is a vast semi-desert region in the central-eastern part of the country between the Anti-Lebanon mountains to the west and the border with Iraq to the east and is only interrupted by the fertile Euphrates valley on the east side. In Al Badia a large group of nomadic people - the Bedouins - are by definition unreachable by the modern centralized energy services (electricity, central heating and hot water services). The target area of the Range Management Project is a territory of about 139000 ha (see map) which is located east of Palmyra and divided in the four areas of Talila Wildlife reserve, Arak, Munbateh and Al Abassia. The beneficiaries of the project are the 450 families which are part of the 3 sheep cooperatives as well as another 40-50 families which are members of a cooperative which raises camels.
The national government started a process of economic reforms and privatization in 1991 and its macroeconomic policy is developing measures to gradually build the economic and financial infrastructure for an export-oriented market as well as supporting national and foreign industrial capital investments. Law Number 10 was enacted in 1991 to create a mechanism of incentives for new private investments and for new private enterprise development, mainly via tax break periods of 5 to 7 years. In this macroeconomic context, however there have been very few and timid private sector driven entrepreneurial activities to introduce renewable energy technologies, mostly solar thermal technology. The mission did not identify a single case of market introduction of solar photovoltaic technology or wind power systems. As for other donor agency energy projects, the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) recently started a $ 10 million Photovoltaic Rural Electrification Project for the villages of the area east of Aleppo. The UNDP was appointed to cooperate in this JICA program and a feasibility study and pilot initiative is underway.
In the energy sector, Syrian authorities are striving to strenghten the national power supply and meet the raising per capita electricity consumption (1071 kWh/Year in 1994) of a growing economy. As of 1994, the total domestic production was 31,5 million TOE (Tons of Oil Equivalent), of which 92.5 % came from crude oil, 5.6 % from gas and the remaining 1.8 % from hydro power (IEA, 1995). Although the Syrian Arab Republic is a fossil fuel producing country and electricity is offered at subsidized tariffs to the utility customers, a significant part of the rural population is still non reached by grid electricity services; there are at least 7000 unelectrified rural villages.
According to the Ministry of Electricity, the Master Plan for grid extension focuses only on bringing central power to the western rural areas of the country. The region of Al Badia was not included in the planning as grid extension in that region was not found to be economically feasible - with an investment cost of about $10000/Km just for the extension of the power lines. This is due to the following reasons: a) large land area to be served (55% of country); b) extremely low density of population with very small energy loads and c) a large component of migrating type populations.
As of today, Syria does not have a renewable energy strategy and has not drafted a Renewable Energy Master Plan, but there seems to be growing interest on the part of the central government in the potential role renewable energy could play in the area of Al Badia. A first indicator of this new sensibility towards RE is the establishment of a Renewable Energy office within the Prime Minister Cabinet. A second indication comes from the ongoing cooperation between the national government officies, the electricity utility and the UNDP for the drafting of a model of RE introduction and commercialization in rural areas.
According to the mission findings and to other institutional sources (UNDP), the potential for development of solar PV energy for rural electrification is quite large. The data collected at Palmyra's meteorological station (see Annex 2) indicates that the annual average sunshine is 8, 98 hour/day and the intensity of solar radiation is in average equal to 5.3 kWh/m2/day. During the winter months the solar radiation ranges between 2.5 and 3.5 kWh/m2/day.
The wind energy resource can be considered only for some windmill applications such as water lifting. The data from Palmyra area show that wind speed has averaged 11 Km/hour per year in the period 1986-1995 which is not enough for efficient wind electricity generation.
The long term objective of the project is to design and support the development of an environmentally friendly and economically sustainable renewable energy infrastructure for Al Badia region, thus contributing to a) the reduction of local environmental impacts such as range exploitation due to fuelwood consumption and b) to the sustainable development of the nomadic population, improving the quality of life and providing opportunities for local employment and income generation activities. As a consequence of renewable energy development, global environmental concerns such as greenhouse gases emissions will also be addressed and contended with .
The short term objective of the project is to introduce solar energy technologies within the target nomadic population of the Range Management project area (approximately 450 families) with a pilot demonstration, to be designed as a first step for the development of a commercial and sustainable market for the exploitation of locally available renewable energies.
The realization of the pilot solar project and the design of a large scale technology commercialization model will also serve the purpose of identifing the conditions and the critical factors which should be taken into account in order to assure the replicability of these initiatives in other developing rural areas of the world.
The reasons for developing a pilot solar energy project and a renewable energy plan targeted to Al Badia nomadic population are:
Within the four target cooperatives of the Range Management project a pilot solar electricity project should be implemented. In many rural communities of developing countries with much lower income levels than the bedouins, public and private sector projects have demonstrated the reliability of Solar Home Systems (SHS) and their affordability. However, in Syria, - and especially among the bedouins - there has been very little exposure to such an energy option; this reason, coupled with the fact that bedouins seem to be very prudent agents in the marketplace despite their high potential spending power, suggest that a first phase of demonstration is necessary in Al Badia. The same considerations are valid for the other renewable energy technologies: solar cookers, for instance, which are well known in countries such as India, Nepal and in some countries in Africa, are still unknown to the target population and the local rural development officials.
1. There are several ways to make technology transfer (TT) as well as several definitions. In the renewable energy technology case, the TT consists in making the industry and market infrastructure, in all its aspects, as indigenous as possible in the shortest period of time.
The TT must be conceived by taking into account the industrial infrastructure and entrepreneurial culture existing in the country and must envisage a step-wise appropriation of all technological know-how and managerial capabilities. In the case of a technology for the production of a commercially mature product, the TT process is mainly referred to the transfer, through licence or joint-venture, of the product manufacturing and servicing know-how.
In the case of renewable energy, the TT implies not only manufacturing or assembling major components of the systems, installing and correctly maintaining them, but, above all, helping the local market development and local entrepreneurs to learn how to do the marketing and often the financing of the market growth. It is a very peculiar and broad definition of TT in which the cooperation for creating and sustaining a real market become even more relevant than the technology itself.
2. The Syrian Arab Republic has signed the Framework Climate Change Convention and the government is currently concerned on setting up measures to meet the CO2 reductions committments.
Download report: Renewable energy options for the Bedouins of Al Badia region: Initial step of a market development programme for renewable energy in Syria (Word 6.0 for Windows, .ZIP, 56K)