EghtesadOnline: Hydropower production in the first quarter (March 21-June 20) of the current fiscal year has increased 415% compared to the same period last year.
While hydroelectric power plants across the country generated 2,354 gigawatt hours of electricity in the first three months of last year, hydropower production has shot up five times this year (over 12,000 GW hours), the Energy Ministry news portal Paven reported.
The impressive rise, which was due to the heavy rainfall in most regions, has helped increase stability of the national grid in peak hours in summer when temperature and consumption rise significantly.
Currently, 54 hydroelectric power plants are operating across the country, mostly in the coastal regions in the Persian Gulf and Sea of Oman, according to Financial Tribune.
With a production capacity of 12,000 megawatts, their total energy production per year is over 27,000 GW hours.
Furthermore, there are 17 hydroelectric power plants under construction. When operational, they will add 3,725 MW to the total hydropower output.
Years of drought and the unprecedented decline in precipitation last year, which was one of the driest in half a century, resulted in a sharp decline in the water in dams.
The unusually hot summer last year led to much higher power consumption and together with hydropower deficit resulted in shortages and load shedding in some urban areas.
Hydroelectric plants play a key role during power outages because they quickly reestablish supply after a blackout and support other plants (mostly thermal).
Hydropower is a renewable energy and its production is cleaner compared to other sources. It accounts for 15% of the total power generation of 81,000MW.
Regarding hydroelectric power capacity, Iran is ranked 19th in the world and 6th in Asia. China is first in Asia and the world with 341,000 MW.
Although the abundant rainfall in spring of this year helped increase the water level in dams and by extension hydroelectric plants could generate more electricity, the deficit in groundwater reserves has not been compensated, the managing director of the office for conservation and exploitation of groundwater resources said.
“At present the deficit in groundwater reservoirs -- a critical resource -- has reached more than 130 billion cubic meters,” Mohammad Ali Mostafavi said.
The deficit in groundwater reservoirs has exceeded the tolerance threshold of aquifers, he added.
According to reports, every year 50 billion cubic meters of water is extracted from groundwater sources in Iran.
Almost 60% of water for households and industries and 50% for farming comes from groundwater.
Surveys and studies in the plains show that the negative trend is of the ascending order across the board.
The steep decline in groundwater levels is having devastating effects. Excessive pumping harms groundwater tables and stops wells from reaching the groundwater. When groundwater is overused, lakes, streams and rivers connected to groundwater also start diminishing.
Groundwater overdraft may also lead to land subsidence as it occurs when there is loss of support below the ground.
Destruction of vegetation, increasing dust storms, holes in the plains and higher salt content in groundwater are the other consequences.