EghtesadOnline: The Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Organization (Satba), affiliated to the Energy Ministry, has taken measures to encourage investors to export renewable energy, the head of the organization said at the Fourth Solar Energy Conference in Tehran last week.
“Over 3,000 small-scale [with under 1-megawatt capacity] and 70 industrial renewable power plants [with over 1-megawatt capacity] are operating across the country,” Bargh News website also quoted Seyyed Mohammad Sadeqzadeh as saying.
“Regarding the guaranteed purchase method of solar power, we have been able to attract a huge number of investors in this field,” he added.
According to official reports, private companies have so far invested over $1 billion in this sector, Financial Tribune reported.
Due to government funding constraints and financial pressures, private firms have risen to the occasion and are contributing to the promotion of renewable energy in recent years.
Lower costs have encouraged the private sector to increase investment in solar power. Another factor that has helped renewables grow is the indigenization of the production of equipment and tools.
Local companies are now capable of manufacturing more than 85% of the equipment, including photovoltaic panels, cables and transformers.
To reduce investment risks in the growing solar sector, the Energy Ministry in 2016 announced its commitment to sign 20-year power purchase deals with the private solar power plants and foreign investors.
Incentives for Exporters
Now, Satba is trying to encourage investors in the field to export their generated electricity.
“If local producers face any problems in their electricity export contracts with the external party, Satba will buy their electricity during the interrupted period,” Sadeqzadeh said.
Solar power is becoming an increasingly important part of the planet's energy mix. In Iran, the government has been offering incentives to shore up solar energy generation from large-scale photovoltaic stations to solar panels on rooftops to expedite the shift from fossil fuels to renewables.
Iran's installed power capacity is about 81,000 megawatts, of which 750 MW comes from renewable sources.
According to Energy Ministry data, solar and wind account for 44% and 40% of the domestic renewable power production respectively.
Small-scale hydroelectric plants, waste-to-energy plants and biomass factories constitute 13%, 2% and 1% of the total renewable output respectively.
Reportedly, 500 MW of new solar power capacity is under construction and renewable power is expected to reach 5,000 MW by 2022.
With more than 300 sunny days throughout the year, Iran has huge potentials to expand its solar energy production and attract investments.
“We should not just focus on producing renewable energy for domestic consumption. Our neighbors and even EU countries need our country's energy,” Sadeqzadeh was quoted as saying.
“We have the capacity to at least export 30,000 MW of electricity, but unfortunately, we do not take advantage of this opportunity. While neighboring countries are exploring ways to meet their energy needs, we are indifferent to this valuable regional market.”
Renewable energy is the least expensive option for boosting access to electricity, reducing air pollution and cutting carbon dioxide emissions.
Creating jobs in remote rural areas, curbing migration, saving water and reducing power wastage are among the other advantages of green energy.
Iran’s electricity industry ranks 14th in the world in terms of output. It is the largest exporter and importer of electricity in the Middle East, which plays the role of central power distributor in the region.
The country exports electricity to Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Under swap deals, Iran exports electricity to Armenia and Azerbaijan in winter and imports it when domestic demand soars in summer.