Libya could generate around six times the amount of energy from solar power than it currently produces in crude oil.
Research published in the Renewable Energy journal suggests that if just 0.1% of Libya were covered with solar panels it could produce the equivalent of seven million barrels of crude oil per day in energy.
Currently, Libya produces about 1.41 million barrels of crude per day. Despite this huge potential, researchers say there is no coherent plan to exploit these resources in the war-torn nation.
“Although Libya is rich in renewable energy resources, it is in urgent need of a more comprehensive energy strategy,” said co-author Dr Amin Al-Habaibeh.
“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.”
Libya is located on the cancer orbit line and is exposed to the sun’s rays throughout the year with long hours during the day.
It 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 8.1kWh/m²/day in the south region.
By comparison, the UK’s average solar radiation rate is less than half that amount at about 2.95kWh/m²/day.
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.
“Wind energy could play an important role in the future in meeting the total electric energy demand,” added Ahmed Mohamed, who worked on the project.
“Several locations, including a number along the coast, experience high wind speeds which last for long periods of time.
“If Libya could harness only a tiny fraction of the renewable energy resources it has available in the form of solar and wind power, not only could it meet its own demands for energy, but also a significant part of the world’s demands by exporting electricity.