Syrian President Bashar Assad launched the first phase of operating the photovoltaic power project in Adra Industrial City, the project aims to generate 100 megawatts of electricity through solar panels upon completion, and extends over an area of more than 165 hectares.
A production of 10 megawatts has been installed so far through more than 18,000 solar panels, and the energy generated from this project has been connected to the grid today to cumulatively support electric production in Syria. The work on this project was launched as private investment in cooperation with the public sector, after President al-Assad’s visit to the industrial city in Adra in June 2021.
Question: Mr. President, where is the most difficult challenge in the field of electricity production and security, and what do you think we can do about it?
President Bashar al-Assad: If we want to talk about the conditions of war and the conditions of the siege, any new economic development project, whether it is small, medium or large, any facility, regardless of its size, has been able to withstand these harsh conditions for about 12 years, is a challenge in itself. The challenges do not include the electricity sector specifically, they are general challenges, they are financing challenges on the one hand, and the challenges of securing equipment and supplies.
However, I do not suppose that both things are the main challenges, the biggest challenge that we derive from seeing this project is the challenge of will, first, and the change of thinking on the subject of investment. This is one of the models.
If we go back to your question, what can we do? I say that the answer is in front of us, this is the reality so that we do not talk in theory, we were able to do something even in the early stages, but by returning to the will and the way of thinking, it is a new model of thinking.
Those in charge of this work, i.e. the owners of capital, could have thought of investment projects that were easier in terms of recovering money, in terms of implementation, and the rest of the aspects. I say it is easier and I do not say more profitable, because the electricity project is profitable and stable, but in the longer term and not in the short term. This reflects a change in the pattern of thinking. This is also a new type of cooperation between state institutions and the private sector, a partnership in a different way.
It presents a model in this aspect, on the other hand, as it embodies what we talked about earlier in one of the discourses on the subject of the national capital. The national capital is exclusively brave capital, and it cannot be cowardly and patriotic capital, when it is cowardly it is mostly foreign or non-national capital. This is the model and this is what we can do now.
All sectors are important, all sectors integrate with each other and support each other, but electricity in particular, especially in the circumstances of the shortage of electricity production in Syria, is the sector that enters and raises all other sectors, in addition to that it raises the level of social life by being present in our daily lives.
So what is required of us as a state is to support such projects because of their importance and to support the new way of thinking about how we can support investment and how the private sector can be an effective contributor to the economy.
Question: Has the production of electricity in Syria through solar energy become the most important option for the state, and therefore are the conditions in Syria responsive to this option?
President Bashar al-Assad: We talked a lot about the issue of alternative energy during the past two years. Many people believed that the future would be for alternative energy and that the state would establish alternative energy plants. The situation is not like that. The definition is alternative energy, but it is not an alternative to traditional energy. It has not reached the world level technically to replace traditional energy, but it is just a definition that gives a wrong concept.
In fact, the correct definition currently is auxiliary energy, it is supporting energy.
The current situation, the lack of production, of course, the developed countries that have a surplus of energy use alternative energy. In the case of Syria, in the event of a production shortage, the impact of a little production will certainly be more tangible than in other countries. It is natural that we go towards alternative energy in order to support what we have of energy.
This is one side, on the other side, alternative energy is technically advancing. Several decades ago, it was not possible to imagine that alternative energy would have a real impact on the national scene in any country, but now the situation has become different and we believe that in the coming years there will be more price reductions and the ability to produce additional energy that today’s equipment can produce.
For us in Syria, we are still at the state level, we support traditional energy at the level of the public sector. A few months ago, one of the turbines was rehabilitated at the Aleppo station. There are also stations in the process of rehabilitation that will return to production within months and perhaps the coming years, depending on the ability to provide spare parts. But going towards alternative energy is a strategic choice, but its effect will be cumulative and not sudden and rapid, as is the case with conventional energy.
Question: Can we actually establish several solar power plants in Syria that will make up for the shortage of electricity?
President Bashar al-Assad: As I said a while ago, the state is now focusing on the issue of restoring what exists. When we talk about what is existing, we have existing stations that were destroyed by terrorism, but the infrastructure is there. First, the infrastructure is there, so it costs less, and second, the speed of impact is much faster. For example, the steam turbine in Aleppo produced 200 megawatts directly after its operation, so the state will go in this direction, but the private sector can go towards alternative energy plants, whether they are wind or solar, in terms of investment and in terms of public interest through electricity generation, in addition to the fact that the private sector has flexibility in the way it deals with consumers if dealing directly.
But we can talk about a stage of partnership that is de facto necessary. I do not want to say that it is mandatory, but I say de facto, given that the state is now the sole owner of the transmission and distribution grids. There must now be a partnership between the public and private sectors, not necessarily a partnership with capital, but rather a partnership with project procedures and not project management.
The state can be a partner by buying this energy and selling it at a subsidized price to the consumer, and it is possible in some cases that it is a lessor of transmission and distribution lines, but the relationship between the consumer and companies is direct.
What I want to say is that the state focuses on conventional energy, but at the same time it is a partner in alternative energy by owning production lines, a partner not with capital, but a partner by facilitating the process by supporting the investor on the one hand and by supporting the consumer on the other hand.
It is not necessary for us to be part of the capital because the state in this case does not seek profit through this sector, but rather seeks to push it forward and seeks to support it and not to profit from it.
End of the transcript.
Since the early days of the US-led war of terrorism and attrition against the Syrian people, the regime change war dubbed the Arab Spring, the electricity sector, the nation’s grid, power stations, cables, and substations were systematically attacked and workers and electricity technicians were assassinated under the guise of spreading democracy and freedoms.
Syria was not only self-sufficient with electricity delivering highly subsidized and very cheap electric power to the last village in the country, the Syrian Electricity Ministry was exporting the excess electric power to neighboring countries. Syria now is suffering massive blackouts due to serious shortages in fuel while the US army is stealing Syrian oil and occupying Syria’s largest oil and gas fields, and due to the damage to the electricity infrastructure caused by the US-sponsored ‘moderate rebels’.
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