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EghtesadOnline: To save natural resources in power stations and fight the menace of air pollution, plans are underway to boost thermal power plants' efficiency from 37% to 40% by the end of the Sixth Five-Year Development Plan (2022), the head of Iran’s Thermal Power Plants Holding Company said.

"In line with these efforts, a highly-efficient gas-fueled power stations with an efficiency of 40% will become operational in the near future in Ahvaz, Khuzestan Province," Mohsen Tarztalab was also quoted as saying by ISNA. 

Average thermal plant efficiency in Iran is 13% lower than European Union standards.

According to the official, the Energy Ministry aims to bring on stream 5,000 MW of new power output capacity annually, most of which are thermal and use eco-friendly fossil fuels such as natural gas and liquid fuels as feedstock. Nonetheless, the plan has already fallen behind schedule due to a lack of financial resources, according to Financial Tribune.

Although the Cabinet exempted the ministry from making payments to Targeted Subsidies Organization in 2016 to help it settle its massive unpaid dues, energy experts including board member and secretary general of the Federation for Export of Energy and Related Industries, Hamidreza Salehi believe power infrastructures have not developed enough to meet the current demand.  

The Subsidy Reform plan, launched in 2010 by former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, removed heavy subsidies on food and energy, and instead paid 450,000 rials (around $13) to the nation on a monthly basis. 

Giving a breakdown, he noted that TPPHC added 2,000 MW of new capacity to the grid in 2017, yet in 2016 close to 1,900 MW were synchronized with the national network.

"If the budget is allocated, power projects with a capacity to generate 4,000 MW can come on stream by March 2019," he said, adding that thermal plants account for 85% of the country's power output, of which 36.3% are gas-fueled with an efficiency of 31.2% , 21.4% run on steam with an efficiency of 35.7%  and 25% are combined-cycle plants with an efficiency of 46.1% that use both gas and steam turbines.

According to a report by Majlis Research Center, 1% increase in the country's thermal power plant efficiency will save enough money to construct a 600 MW power plant.

Based on the same report, the Energy Ministry has boosted efficiency in thermal power plants by 1% over the past four years, which resulted in saving 6.1 billion cubic meters of natural gas as feedstock in the fiscal 2016-17 alone.

TPPHC chief noted that plans are in place to decommission inefficient plants, improve the decrepit electricity infrastructure and move toward state-of-the-art power production know-how.

"Under laws outlined by the Energy Ministry, new combined-cycle units must have an efficiency of 58% and above," he said.

With an installed power production capacity of around 80,000 MW, Iran meets almost 80% of its electricity demand from aging thermal plants operating for decades.

--- Paris Treaty

Dismissing the connection between current regular outages and Iran's pledge to decrease emissions based on Paris Climate Agreement, which went into force worldwide on November 2016, Tarztalab noted that the country's commitment to curb greenhouse gas emissions by 4% will be implemented by 2030.

The Paris climate accord aims to respond to the global climate change threat by keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2° Celsius above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5° Celsius.

While China, India and Brazil, along with many other developing countries and wealthy nations such as the US and EU member states have recently chosen to ratify the Paris Agreement, Russia is absent from the list of backers. 

In Iran, the Paris climate accord, approved by the Council of Ministers and then Majlis, has been submitted to the Guardians Council for further assessment.


air pollution natural resources TPPHC Power Plant Efficiency power stations thermal power plants