EghtesadOnline: A10 megawatt photovoltaic power plant built by GEP (a South African solar power developer) in the town of Khusf, South Khorasan Province was synchronized with the national power grid on Saturday, governor of the city said.
“The plant -- constructed on 15-hectare plot -- cost $16.4 million and was completed in two years,” Mohammad Shafiei was quoted as saying by IRNA.
Speaking on the government's incentives to expand renewable power production, Shafiei pointed to 13-year tax exemption plan for renewable ventures. He did not provide details.
The foreign PV producer has built a 175 MW solar farm in De Aar, South Africa, which is said to be the largest in the Southern Hemisphere, Africa and the Middle East, according to Financial Tribune.
According to the official, the solar station generates enough power to supply all 1,000 households in the town with electricity in case the national grid faces problems.
Located in eastern Iran, South Khorasan’s dry climate and desert terrain make farming difficult but still 35% of the population relies on agriculture. Needless to say, drought has taken a heavy toll on the shrinking farming community leaving in its trail a barren landscape and abandoned rural areas.
The governor went on to say that expanding solar farms and rooftop photovoltaic power stations will help create jobs, especially in rural areas, where people are migrating in unusually big numbers due to the water crisis and worsening economic conditions.
According to Hashem Valipour, a consultant in South Khorasan’s Agriculture Jihad Organization, 50% of the villages in the region are deserted.
“Of the 3,500 villages 1,600 have not inhabitants.”
Dwindling water resources and vanishing farmlands leave the rural folks with no option but to move to cities in increasing numbers to find work.
Recurrent droughts have led to the desiccation of 15% of aqueducts and reduction of water levels in 30% of South Khorasan qanats.
Gradual loss of water resources has prompted people to take drastic measures, one of which is digging illegal wells and withdrawing the scarce water further exacerbating the water problem.
Water experts like Esmail Shahbazi say promoting judicious water consumption is no more workable in tackling the worsening water crisis, nor are costly methods such as cloud seeding.