The impact of Iran’s re-introduction to the global energy market is compounding concerns over future oil supply, however the country is also exhibiting steps towards forms of renewable energy. Highlighting the capacity for advances in solar and wind technology.
Iran’s been waiting for ten years for the oil sanctions to be lifted but almost at the moment of realisation you hear it’s aggressively advancing a renewables programme.
In a way it makes perfect sense. The country suffered badly as a result of the UN, US and EU penalties – losing $160bn in oil revenue alone since 2012 according to the BBC, and more than $100bn of assets were frozen. This way as sanctions on the fossil fuel are lifted, it will be able to drive an energy renaissance across both fronts and make up for lost time.
In December the latest measurement was that less than 1% of the total energy in Iran was supplied by renewable sources. But the government’s 6th Development Plan aims to change this. It has set an ambitious target of installing over 5000 MW renewable energies. Mr. Mostafa Rabeie, head of International Affairs in the Renewable Energy Organisation of Iran states, “Iran can supply over two-thirds of its energy through wind power. The long-term policy within the next decade (2015-2025) is to supply over 50% of required energy through renewables, biomass, as well as other green technologies.”
Of little surprise is the potential it has in investing in solar energy. Iran is located on the earth’s sun-belt and therefore enjoys 2800 sunny hours a year; the UK gets 1460. In Iran, that equates to generating 2000kWh/m2 of solar power per year. According to greenmatech.com, “The potential of Iran in using this source of energy is that only by using 1% of the country’s area it can procure all the energy needs of the country.”
Little over a week ago, a solar farm capable of generating 250 kWh of electricity came on stream. It cost more than 17bn rials – $450,000 and was one of four projects to be completed over the last twelve months. Iranian Deputy Energy Minister Houshang Falahatian said the development of solar farms in Tehran is a necessity for the capital city, telling the Tehran Times, “We are planning to establish such solar farms, which are equipped with the photovoltaic systems, in other cities of the country as well.”
Falahatian added that the Iranian power industry plans to take the advantage of private sector and also foreign companies’ investment in the new condition once sanctions are lifted, to establish better electricity infrastructure in the country.
What may be less obvious is the wind potential – unless you’re Danish. Remember this is the country which set a new world record for wind production in 2014 so it’s been ahead of the game for a while. At the start of the year the Iranian Energy Minister Hamid Chitchian announced that Denmark had offered to develop the renewable industry in the country by building them a domestic wind-turbine manufacturing factory. He also spoke of a ‘very good understanding’ between the two sides of cooperation in different sectors of renewable energy.
Already more than 200 wind turbines are swirling away in Majil, Northern Iran. They provided 300m kWh of power last year.
According to presstv.ir, the south-eastern Sistan-Baluchestan province is the primary candidate site for new turbines, with other places also being considered as likely locations for establishing a wind farm. Apart from Sistan-Baluchestan, Iranian provinces of Azarbaijan as well as Qazvin, Semnan and Khorasan are considered to be ideal positions to set up wind parks.
When we remind ourselves of the incredible renewable energy provision in countries like Uruguay which produces 95% of electricity through these sources. It’s clear there’s a long way to go for Iran but it’s definitely a start.