EghtesadOnline: The insatiable demand for electricity cannot be met, unless the Energy Ministry puts demand management on top of its agenda, the energy minister said.
"Notwithstanding the country's installed power capacity of 77,000 megawatts, which ranks 14th in the world, managing demand and adopting policies to raise awareness on the need for judicious electricity consumption must be a major priority," Reza Ardakanian was also quoted as saying by IRNA on Friday.
Pointing to the year-on-year rise of 7% in power consumption, Ardakanian said using electricity prudently and devising power saving schemes can be as effective as constructing new power stations to respond to rising demand.
"There is a direct link between electricity consumption and the amount of oil and natural gas used in power plants," he said, adding that as more than 90% of the country's power are generated with fossil-fired power stations, judicious electricity consumption can help savw hydrocarbon reserves, Financial Tribune reported.
According to the official, the annual consumption of oil and natural gas in the power industry stands at 70 billion liters and 70 billion cubic meters respectively.
Power experts, including Arash Kordi, the managing director of Iran Power Generation, Distribution and Transmission Company (Tavanir), believe that the implementation of plans to overhaul the aging residential and commercial electric metering infrastructure should be accelerated, as it can help the ministry monitor consumption more accurately.
Highlighting the importance of replacing old meters with smart ones, Kordi added that there are approximately 34 million electricity subscribers in the country and the venture to install new meters requires an investment of $4 billion.
A smart meter is a new kind of gas and electricity meter that digitally sends meter readings to energy suppliers. It ensures more accurate energy bills. Smart meters also come with monitors, so users can better understand their energy usage.
According to the official, projects to boost power exports to neighboring states cannot be implemented unless the private sector plays an active role in this regard. Iran trades electricity with four neighbors on its northwestern and western borders, namely Azerbaijan Republic (including Nakhchivan Autonomous Region), Turkey, Armenia and Iraq.
On the critical issue of cooperation with the private sector, he noted that the ministry will do its best to facilitate the presence of private sector in overseas projects. Referring to the ministry's debt to private firms, Ardakanian said, "New financial resources have been foreseen in the country's budget for the fiscal 2017 and 2018 that will be announced in December to settle the massive $7.5 billion unpaid dues."
Asked about the ministry's ongoing ventures, Ardakanian said boosting efficiency in power plants, reducing power wastage in the national grid and extending the number of power stations are among the ministry's high priorities.
According to Mohsen Tarztalab, managing director of Thermal Power Plants Holding Company, there are 3,000 MW of dilapidated power stations in the country, which should be decommissioned gradually during the next five years.
"The derelict power plants, some of which were built more than a quarter century ago, cannot be shut down unless new ones go on stream," Tarztalab said, noting that adding 3,000 MW of new electricity capacity to the national power network in the period will cost $2 billion.
"Operations to build a 160 MW power station in Sistan-Baluchestan's provincial capital Zahedan as well as a 1,034-MW power plant in Tehran are being carried out," he said, adding that the more modern stations are constructed, the less power will be wasted.