EghtesadOnline: In line with efforts to economize on fossil fuels, plans have been formulated to add 1,000 megawatts, or 1 gigawatt of renewable capacity to the national power grid per annum, a senior official at the Energy Ministry said.
"Currently, renewable energy output capacity stands at 400 MW, but upon the completion of projects under construction, 1,000 MW of new wind and solar power plants will gradually go on stream by the end of 2018," Homayoun Haeri was also quoted as saying by IRNA on Wednesday.
The plan comes against a backdrop of plans to raise the present installed power capacity of 77,000 MW by 5,000 MW annually through a mix of thermal, hydroelectric and renewable sources.
"Concerted efforts should be made to reduce consumption of fossil-based energies not only to address environmental concerns but also to save on non-renewable resources," Haeri said, adding that Iran has a diverse climate of vast windy lands and more than 300 sunny days throughout the year, which makes it ideal to tap into wind and solar energies, Financial Tribune reported.
According to the official, developed countries have long been convinced that heavy reliance on fossil fuels is not in their interest and, therefore, increasingly deployed renewable energies to meet their energy needs.
Top the List
Reportedly, Germany, Italy, India, the US, and China top the list of countries that have successfully exploited solar energy to produce electricity.
Pointing to domestic firms' capacity, Haeri said, "The production of 1 gigawatt of sustainable renewable power per year is feasible provided that we get access to cutting-edge know-how by joining hands with international firms to draw on their expertise."
"MAPNA Group, an energy and engineering conglomerate, has already begun to manufacture 2.5-MW wind turbines," he added, noting that the more such technologies are indigenized, the faster renewable ventures can be implemented.
Domestic experts have also indigenized wind turbine transformers that can save the country as much as $130 million per year.
Referring to the country's total installed power capacity at 80 GW, he said the lion's share of power is produced with the help of fossil fuel-based power plants.
"The share of renewables in Iran’s energy mix is as low as 400 MW, although it has huge potentials to harness renewable energies, including geothermal, solar and wind power," he added.
Haeri noted that the Energy Ministry has welcomed private enterprises eager to invest in renewable projects and facilitated the issuance of permits.
The lifting of western sanctions in 2016 allowed Iran to open its energy market to foreign investors, with international companies showing a strong appetite for renewable initiatives.
The government has commissioned the construction of $7.3 billion worth of renewable power plants through foreign investment to diversify the country's energy mix that is dominated by oil and gas.
Central to new potential investments are a $2.9-billion preliminary agreement with Norway's Saga Energy and a $600-million contract with London-based Quercus, with the latter committed to building one of the world's largest solar farms with a 600-MW capacity.
Iran holds some of the world's largest oil and gas riches and renewable energy sources have long remained under the shadow of fossil fuels that meet most of the country's energy needs.
The Energy Ministry says it hopes to launch 1,000 MW of renewable capacity a year through 2022 with the help of the private sector.