EghtesadOnline: Despite installed power generation capacity surpassing 80 gigawatts and exports to some neighboring states, several industrial townships in East Azarbaijan Province are deprived of electricity due to lack of infrastructure, the provincial deputy governor general for civil affairs said.
“Industrial towns here need 1,500 megawatts, but only 500 MW is provided by the power plants,” Javad Rahmati was quoted as saying by IRNA.
Power infrastructure in the region is lagging behind. Access to electricity is essential for economic growth. Industrial units cannot develop as planned and some are on the verge of shutting down, he said.
The province accounts for 8% of the country’s 80 million population but electricity output is less than 3.5%. He criticized officials for being indifferent toward improving power infrastructure in the region, Financial Tribune reported.
Rahmati noted that private firms are able and willing to construct small power plants based on build-operate-transfer (BOT) contracts.
“Costs can be covered by selling power to industrial units. We do not want state funds but expect them (government) to streamline the investment process by cutting red tape” and doing something about the bloated bureaucracy, Rahmati quoted the private companies as saying.
To help prevent disruption in power transmission in Maragheh County in the province, a mobile 132 kilovolt substation cost $470,000 was synchronized with the national grid in June, but a lot more needs to be done.
Referring to industrial towns namely Akhoula and Shahid Salimi, both in the proximity of Tabriz, the provincial capital, he said “at least 100 manufacturing units in which millions of dollars have been invested are inactive mainly due to power shortage.”
Now that US sanctions have pushed the economy to the edge and creating jobs is a major concern, the underdeveloped power infrastructure has added insult to injury.
Attracting investment has become a major challenge as financers know that putting money in the region will be futile because the power grid in small towns is experiencing disruption of unprecedented scope.
Although East Azarbaijan Province composes 8% of the population, it hardly constitutes 2.4% of the total power production. The share is 9%, 8%, 7% and 6% in Tehran, Isfahan, Bushehr and North Khorasan respectively despite the fact that some of these regions have smaller populations.
Referring to combined-cycle power output in the province that is near zero, he noted that in other provinces namely Tehran, Kerman, Yazd and Alborz, combined-cycle plants account for 56%, 87%, 87% and 63% of the total power generation in each region.
Power stations in Azarbaijan run on eco-unfriendly mazut and diesel because natural gas pressure is low. Power plants in other parts of the country mainly use gas.
“There are 60 industrial towns in East Azarbaijan that have created 54,000 jobs,” he said, noting that the potential can develop if power infrastructure expands.
Mineral fuels, mineral oils and related products, fruits, machinery, mechanical tools and parts, cast iron, steel, copper and glass are exported from East Azarbaijan Province to Turkey, Iraq, Azerbaijan, China, Armenia, Georgia, Bulgaria, Afghanistan, Italy and Pakistan.