EghtesadOnline: International investors are increasingly looking at Iran as a strong market for renewable power projects, Energy Minister Hamid Chitchian said on Friday, anticipating a "big leap" in the country's fledgling renewable industry in the next few years.
"Foreign investors have submitted investment proposals, worth a total of $3.6 billion, to develop renewable projects in Iran," Chitchian said on the sidelines of the ground-breaking ceremony for a 30-megawatt photovoltaic plant in the city of Jajarm, North Khorasan Province, ILNA reported.
"This [Jajarm photovoltaic plant] is the biggest solar power venture in Iran's history and the beginning of a big leap in the renewable industry," Chitchian added, pointing to photovoltaic projects in the cities of Arak, Isfahan and Hamedan, with a total output capacity of 10 MW or lower.
A local power official said on Friday financing and construction of the solar plant in Jajarm is being carried out by an unnamed Swiss company. The project's first development phase is expected to be completed in six months and employ around 400 people, including 41 new permanent jobs once the plant comes on stream, according to Financial Tribune.
"Four other solar plants with 30-MW output capacity are planned to be built in Jajarm and Esfarayen (southeast of the province)," Chitchian said.
The project is part of efforts to raise the low share of renewable sources in Iran's power industry that is mostly dependent on fossil fuels to meet its electricity demand.
According to the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Organization, a state-owned entity also known as Satba, plans are in place to launch 5,000 MW in new renewable capacity, including solar and wind, by 2022.
"Our target to install 5 gigawatts of new renewable capacity in five years is feasible," Mohammad Sadeqzadeh, deputy energy minister and Satba chief, was cited as saying by Mehr News Agency on Wednesday.
Iran launched 14 MW and 100 MW of renewable capacity in its last two fiscal years respectively, the official said, adding that 800 MW of new renewable capacity are under development.
Oil- and gas-rich Iran has also pledged to slow climate change by promoting cleaner energies. In December 2015, 195 nations, including Iran, signed an agreement at the Paris Climate Conference to move away from fossil fuels with a goal of limiting a rise in average global temperatures to well below 2 degrees Celsius.
Iran promised at the Paris Climate Conference to curtail greenhouse gas emissions by increasing power production from renewable sources to 7,500 MW by the end of next decade.