Iran Energy Ministry Struggling to Save Electricity as Temperatures Soar
EghtesadOnline: The Energy Ministry has announced plans to reduce power consumption in the summer season when demand outstrips supply and phased blackouts become inevitable, Deputy Energy Minister Homayoun Haeri said Sunday.
Plans target four sectors, namely state/government organizations, industries, households and agriculture, the Persian-language economic newspaper Donya-e-Eqtesad reported.
High precipitation in spring was good news for hydroelectric power plants, but power cuts are likely in summer unless consumption declines, especially in the peak hours from 12 pm to 4 pm.
Rising temperatures are a permanent feature of large parts in Iran for almost half a year, especially in the southern and central desert areas where the mercury has shot up to 50 degrees Centigrade in recent years, Financial Tribune reported.
On Monday (June 10) the weatherman reported 50 degrees Centigrade in the southern city of Abadan near the Iraqi border and the government said schools and offices in southern Khuzestan Province will be closed on Wednesday when the mercury is forecast to rise further.
According to weather reports Iran will have a very hot summer this year. Assessments and analysis show that temperature increase by one degree centigrade raises electricity consumption in the country by over 1,300 megawatts.
Average global electricity consumption rises by less than 3% per annum. Iran's demand jumps over 6% every year. The pattern has been causing concern among experts, environmentalists and conservationists long pleading for effective action to curb consumption and reduce waste.
Network load reached 57,000 megawatts during peak hours in the last fiscal that ended in March and is expected to surpass 61 gigawatts this summer.
The systematic rise in consumption has compelled the government to import more power from neighboring states during summers.
“We need to add 5,000 MW to overall capacity this year to be able to avoid supply problems in some regions. However, so far only 2,000 MW has been added,” Haeri said.
Raising tariffs is one of the government’s programs to curb consumption. “A 7% hike for all subscribers across the board has been in effect since May 22. For consumers who do not comply with the announced patterns, tariffs will increase by 23%,” he said.
The official underlined that close to 90% of consumers in the household sector are in the average 300-kilowatt hour bracket per month, which is set by the government as a basic consumption model.
He said the new regulations target the remaining 10% heavy consumers who may be compelled to rethink their consumption patterns or get hit in the pocket.
Another plan is changing working hours in state and affiliated organizations. The initiative helped with load management in provincial capitals, big cities and towns last year and reduced consumption by 2,000 megawatts.
Organizations are also obliged to switch off all cooling systems after the working hours and will face power outages if they fail to comply.
“Cooling systems in state and government bodies consume over 24,000 MW in summer,” Haeri recalled. The new plan anticipates a reduction by almost 4,000 MW.
“In the agriculture sector, farmers are encouraged to turn off their water pumps during the peak hours. If they do so, they can use free electricity for the next 20 hours,” he said. The initiative helped save 700 MW of electricity last summer.
The energy ministry has signed MoUs with 1,800 industries, based on which they should cut power consumption by 30% in summer. This should help save another 2,000 MW.
Another program by the ministry is replacing 15 million fluorescent lamps in state bodies with energy-efficient LED light bulbs.