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Drawing production power from the sun

Technica, a robotics manufacturer, installs solar panels at Bikfaya factory

by Jeremy Arbid

For any manufacturer, a reliable and affordable source of electricity is a necessity. This summer, Technica, a regional leader in the building of automated end of line solutions – machines that prepare already assembled products for shipping – switched on its new photovoltaic (PV) panels. This, says Strategy Manager Cynthia Abdul Khater, is a first step toward electricity independence, by drawing power from the sun.

Technica requires a lot of electrical juice to run the factory. They estimate a daily minimum of 100 kilowatts to power operations and the new PV system will supply 64 kilowatts during peak sunlight. Currently, demand is supplied from the government’s electrical grid, affordably at $0.12 per kilowatt hour, but blackouts have forced the factory to rely on expensive generators which they estimate to cost $0.30 per kilowatt hour.

Saving funds one solar panel at a time

The PV system is paid for by a subsidized loan from Lebanon’s Central Bank through Circular 331, and they estimate the new system will save the factory $21,000 in its first year and $674,138 over the next 30 years. Technica is also projecting to eliminate 1,679 tons of carbon dioxide emissions, during the system’s lifetime as they reduce reliance on generators. Technica is now beginning to study the technical and financial benefits of expanding the PV system to 180,000 kilowatt hours per year, double the current output.

When the factory is not operating, the panels feed electricity into the public grid through the government’s net metering scheme. The scheme, and solar energy, is part of the government’s plan to generate 12% of energy needs through renewable sources by 2020 – for the government’s National Energy Efficiency Action Plan.

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Jeremy Arbid

Jeremy is Executive's former economics and policy editor.

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