EghtesadOnline: Energy Minister Reza Ardakanian said on Tuesday Iran has cut power export to Iraq so as to meet its rising domestic demand.
"The soaring power consumption in the hot season has made us cut power supplies to the neighboring state," Ardakanian was also quoted as saying by Mehr News Agency.
Iran cut off electricity supplies to Iraq, as constant blackouts and water shortages in the southern Khuzestan Province in the face of high temperatures triggered a series of protests.
Ardakanian said Iran's electricity export contracts secure its right to cut supplies when it needs electricity for domestic use during peak consumption times of the year, Financial Tribune reported.
Last Friday, Iraq's Electricity Minister Qassem al-Fahdawi, accompanied by a delegation, arrived in Tehran where they held talks with Iranian officials to resume the supply of 1,000 megawatts of electricity to Iraq.
Reportedly, talks between the two neighbors failed amid reports that Tehran asked Baghdad to settle a related debt of $1 billion.
This is not new as in January 2017, Iran suspended power supply to Iraq after a contract with the Arab neighbor ran out at the end of last year. But Iraqi media reported that Tehran had "abruptly" cut power supply due to Iraq's increasing debts.
The Iranian minister said talks are underway with Turkmenistan and Armenia to set up new power transmission lines to make up for the domestic shortages and the possible resumption of exports to the Arab state.
Iraq has been importing electricity from Iran for over a decade.
Iran is the largest exporter and importer of electricity in the Middle East, which plays the role of central power distributor in the region, with an installed power generating capacity of around 80,000 MW.
The country's electricity industry ranks 14th in the world in terms of output.
--- Unprecedented Demand
According to Ardakanian, the country's power consumption has surpassed the forecast level.
With an almost 10% growth rate, the country's power consumption was expected to reach a peak of 58,000 MW this summer, but the figure has been crossed while the warmest days of are not yet here.
Despite its high power output, Iran currently has to import 700 MW of electricity in summer. However, it needs to increase its power purchase by 200 MW due to unprecedented low precipitation in winter, which has cut the output of hydropower plants.
Homayoun Haeri, a deputy energy minister, said on Tuesday that dilapidated power infrastructure also impacts the country's high consumption, noting that constant efforts are underway to alleviate the issue as much as possible.
"Electricity wastage in the national grid is expected to decline and reach 9% in the next four years from the current rate of 10.8%," he said, adding that the figure stood at 16% four years ago.
Haeri noted that Iran’s electricity consumption has increased by 6% in the past decade and the Energy Ministry has targeted the addition of 20,000 megawatts to the country’s total power generation capacity by establishing new power plants across the country.
Parallel with such plans, the second phase of Parand Combined-Cycle Power Plant in southern Tehran went on stream on Tuesday.
The new unit is slated to add 160 MW to the power grid next summer.
The Parand project, worth $407 million, comprises three major phases with a total output capacity of 480 MW. The third phase is anticipated to become operational by the yearend.