The Euro Lebanese Center for Industrial Modernization (ELCIM) at the Industrial Research Institute (IRI) organized the inauguration ceremony of the wastewater pilot treatment plant established at the IRI headquarters in Hadat, co-financed by the European Union within the framework of the ENI CBC Med Program, as part of the “MAIA-TAQA” project. The inauguration ceremony was held in the presence of his HE Minister of Industry, George Bouchikian; Director General of the Industrial Research Institute, Dr. Bassam Frenn; President of the Lebanese University, Dr. Bassam Badran; President of the Association of Industrialists, Salim El Zaenni, Director of ELCIM and Local Director of the “MAIA-TAQA” project, Naji Abi Zeid, and representatives from institutions specialized in the field of renewable energy and wastewater treatment.
This project, whose implementation required over a year of hard work, carries the price tag of $190,000 and aims at operating the wastewater treatment plant on solar energy, recycle wastewater, and reuse it in the field of irrigation. The pilot plant is intended to serve as a demonstrator for future replicabilities.
Minister George Bouchikian saw that the Industrial Research Institute was making a qualitative leap with MAIA-TAQA in terms of investments with the aim of improving the quality of life and raising its standard. “What matters most in the project are three main points: scientific research, technological development, and innovation,” he said, stressing that “what the IRI and ELCIM provide to Lebanese industrialists constitutes one of the main pillars for the development and modernization of the industry sector, be it in terms of expansion, growing the volume of business, facing the challenge of competition, or exporting to the most demanding markets.”
He pointed out that the percentage of small and medium enterprises in Lebanon exceeds 90%, which is the case in the countries surrounding us. Bouchikian went on to praise the project’s founders and their intention to support this type of enterprise, and introduce small business owners to new means of research and innovation.
“Given the scarcity of natural resources in some countries, as is the case in Lebanon, and given the high cost of those resources, which automatically raises the cost of industrial production, and thus reduces the ability of industrialists to compete in foreign markets, the IRI took the initiative years ago to adopt policies to rationalize the use of energy and water. It also directed industrialists to embrace these policies. As for the project we are inaugurating, it is based on operating a wastewater treatment plant on solar energy, refining wastewater, and reusing it in irrigation.”
HE Minister of Industry did not fail to highlight the distinguished relations between Lebanon and the European Union in general, and between the IRI and the EU in particular, through its membership in EUROLAB, and its continuous cooperation with relevant European organizations and institutions.
He also dwelled on the urgent need to conduct a comprehensive survey of the industry in Lebanon, “which the ministry is already carrying out in cooperation with the IRI but still requires additional efforts to eventually reach clear data.”
In turn, Frenn confirmed that the concerned authorities were working within a single strategy to develop the economy and preserve the environment, noting that the Industrial Research Institute focuses on delivering new ideas and projects that can be built upon to support a sustainable economy. Considering that the sewage treatment plant project falls within this context, he pointed out that the IRI was working today to collect and reuse rainwater, in a complementary policy with the “MAIA-TAQA” project.
“The relationship with the European Union is not new; had it not been for their support, we would not have succeeded in completing this project implemented with joint financing. Such support will not end with the end of this project,” he went on to confirm. “We began working together on the issue of energy years ago, and have finalized many projects whose importance lies in sustainability, given our unyielding commitment to the slogan ‘A project that starts here, shall be pursued here’.”
Frenn considered that “the main objective of the implemented projects lies in conveying the message to those concerned in the industrial and economic field and to the decision-makers in Lebanon that we work in favor of sustainable projects.”
Local Director of the “MAIA-TAQA” project, Naji Abi Zeid explained that the MAIA-TAQA project has been a collaborative effort, Over the course of almost 4 years, which focused on various aspects, including pilot projects implementation in energy efficiency, BIPV, solar thermal, and wastewater treatment and reuse in Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon in addition to specialized training programs in Resource Efficiency solutions to enhance knowledge and skills, and the Voucher Program, supporting innovative companies in energy efficiency and wastewater treatment and reuse.
He added that through these initiatives, the MAIA-TAQA project has not only contributed to the development of sustainable solutions but has also fostered knowledge transfer and capacity building in the fields of renewable energy and wastewater management and could be considered as a testament to the power of collaboration and innovation in addressing the pressing challenges of our time.
He also explained that this initiative serves as a tangible demonstration of the benefits and feasibility of adopting Resource-Efficient technologies. By showcasing the positive impact on sustainability and cost-efficiency, we hope to inspire wider adoption of these technologies among SMEs and public sector in Lebanon.
Finally, Abi Zeid showed his appreciation to the European union for its support and its funding opportunity without which the whole project would not have been accomplished. He also recognized thanked all the project partners, stakeholders, and the Lebanese team for their dedication and efforts in bringing this pilot project to completion.