EghtesadOnline: Renewable energy can lower demand for natural gas by diversifying energy supplies, a consultant to the Energy Ministry’s Niroo Research Institute said.
“With more renewables less gas will be required to run thermal power plants,” Hamid Chitchian was quoted as saying by IRNA.
Not developing renewable energy projects will inflict harm on natural gas resources because close to 80% of power is generated by gas-powered thermal plants, he added.
Chitchian noted that an estimated 73 billion cubic meters of gas is burnt in power plants annually, which is expected to increase to 100 bcm per year in less than five years, according to Financial Tribune.
“In 2036, Iran will need 550 billion kilowatt hours of electricity and supplying thermal power plants with the fuel to generate this volume of power can pose a major challenge unless use of renewables is expanded.”
He recalled that the domestic power industry is based largely on fossil fuels, which explains why senior decision and policymakers in the energy sector have paid little if any attention to renewable technologies over the past four decades.
Water scarcity is another major risk for non-renewable power plants.
Hydroelectric, nuclear, and natural gas plants need high volumes of water for their cooling systems, which means that drought and heat waves can and has put electricity generation at risk.
Nonetheless, wind and solar photovoltaic systems do not require water to produce power and can operate in conditions that may otherwise require closing a fossil fuel-powered plant, he noted.
Energy Ministry data show that hydroelectric power generation capacity declined by 12,000 megawatts in 2018 due to the extended droughts and declining precipitation.
Moreover, unlike fossil fuel technology, which is typically mechanized and capital intensive, the renewable energy industry is labor intensive. Solar panels need humans to install them; wind farms need technicians for maintenance.
This means that, on average, more jobs are created for each unit of electricity generated from renewable sources than from fossil fuels.
According to Mohammad-Taqi Zaferanchizadeh, a deputy for development in state-owned Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Organization, aka Satba, the cost of building solar and wind plants has dropped by as much as 25% compared to five years ago.
“Local companies have indigenized almost 70% of equipment and machinery in the clean energy sector,” he said, adding that to reduce investment risks in the solar sector, the ministry in 2016 announced its commitment to sign 20-year power purchase contracts with private solar power plants and foreign investors.
Moreover, to further promote clean energy the government recently increased the purchase price of solar power by at least 30%.
Energy experts including Chitchian say strong winds, sunny skies, heat from the earth, and fast-moving water can each provide vast and sustainable energy.
A small fraction of Iran’s electricity (850 MW) currently comes from renewable sources, but that could change. Studies have shown that renewable energy can provide a significant share of electricity needs with effective management and rewriting priorities.