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EghtesadOnline: A tender for domestic and foreign companies will be announced to enhance the efficiency of gas-burning power plants, says Houshang Falahatian, the deputy energy minister for electricity and energy.

"An international tender will be held soon to boost the efficiency of several power plants with a total capacity of 18,000 megawatts from 33% to 48%," the official said, Mehr News Agency reported on Saturday.

He did not mention the number of power plants set for renovation or the value of the tender. Average efficiency of Iranian power plants is said to be around 37%.

The Energy Ministry aims to build new power plants to generate 25,000 MW by 2021, the end of the sixth five-year economic, cultural and social development plan, according to Financial Tribune.

"New power stations are slated to run on highly-efficient F-Class and H-Class turbines which would have an efficiency of 58% or higher," the official said.

Iran has signed a deal with Germany's Siemens, based on which the industrial giant is to deliver 20 F-Class turbines to Iran and also share turbine manufacturing knowhow.

Iran received its first F-Class turbine from Siemens last September which is to be used in a power plant in the port city of Bandar Abbas, Hormozgan Province.

With an installed power production capacity of around 75,000 megawatts, Iran meets almost 80% of its electricity demand from aging thermal plants operating for decades. Close to 12,000 MW is produced from hydroelectric plants and 1,000 MW from the sole nuclear power plant in Bushehr, south Iran.

--- Combined-Cycle Projects

The ministry is also preparing a second tender to develop the steam units of dozens of power plants and convert conventional plants into combined-cycle units that use both gas and steam to produce electricity.

A combined-cycle power plant, or CCPP, produces up to 50% more electricity from the same fuel than a traditional simple-cycle plant. The waste heat from the gas turbine is routed to the nearby steam turbine, which generates extra power.

A new CCPP unit with an output capacity of 484 MW was launched in Kerman Province in November. Known as Kahnuj Shoubad Power Plant, it cost $350 million.

Falahatian rated Iran among a handful of countries with the knowhow to build power plants from the ground up. However, Iran is taking measures to open up its energy market to multinationals in an attempt to retool its aging power units with modern equipment and build new power stations with higher efficiency.

The deputy minister added that Iran has boosted the supply of gas feedstock to power plants in recent years to cut the consumption of more polluting fuels such as diesel and mazut.

"We have plans to provide 80% of the power plants' demand for feedstock with natural gas by March."

Gas production has increased by around 100 million cubic meters per day over the past 10 months, largely boosted by supplies from the giant South Pars Gas Field that is shared between Iran and Qatar.

Iran gas Iran power plants Houshang Falahatian