EghtesadOnline: Iran has enough potential to produce higher amounts of electricity from renewable sources while the current power output from it is less than 1,000 MW, vice president of Iran Electrical Industry Syndicate said.
“Currently most of our electricity comes from thermal power plants that consume fossil fuels, which harms human health and the environment. Therefore, a significant part of the pollution (30%) comes from power plants,” ILNA quoted Payam Baqeri as saying.
Most of domestic thermal plants are powered by natural gas that is the cleanest burning fossil fuel so far as it emits the least amount of CO2. However, using renewable energy, including solar and wind, would take care of this big problem without polluting the air, he added.
Three years ago, Iran ratified the landmark Paris Agreement, which went into force in November 2016. It was an agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, dealing with greenhouse-gas-emissions mitigation, adaptation, and finance, Financial Tribune reported.
Under the agreement, all 185 governments that ratified the accord, which includes the US, China, India and the European Union, have an obligation to help check global warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. That is what scientists regard as the limit of safety, beyond which climate change is likely to become catastrophic.
“According to the agreement, Iran, as one of the largest emitters of carbon dioxide, has pledged to cut greenhouse emissions and increase the share of renewables by 2030,” Baqeri said.
Iran’s unconditional pledge is to decrease emissions by 4% and raise renewable capacity to 4,000 MW. Further, emission cuts can be increased to 12% and renewable capacity can reach 10,000 MW under proper conditions, he added.
Lifting of Sanctions
The unconditional pledge means national resources will be used to curb emissions and be invested in green energy. However, the country will not be able to meet its target of 12% cut as long as US economic sanctions are in place.
Only with the complete lifting of sanctions and after receiving sufficient international aid and modern technology, Iran can deliver before the UN deadline.
Iran’s annual carbon emission exceeds 700 million tons. According to international bodies, Iran contributes 1.05% to global greenhouse gas emissions.
“With the current 750 MW renewable capacity, we are a long way to fulfill our pledge,” Baqeri noted.
Iran is the eighth country in terms of renewable energy potential in the world. There are 300 sunny days in almost 80% of the country. “Our minimum radiation exceeds the maximum in Europe. We can produce up to 60,000 MW of renewables including solar and wind power, but this capacity has been neglected so far,” he rued.
The government reportedly plans to raise the current share of renewables to 5,000 MW by 2022. This seems to be a tall order because in addition to financial constraints, developing renewable plants remains a low priority for policymakers.
Since the domestic renewable energy sector is unable to compete with low-cost and subsidized fossil fuel-based electricity, individual investors are averse to take risks.
The private sector is unwilling to embark on green ventures not only due to the Energy Ministry's reluctance to allow reasonable tariffs for electricity (produced by private companies), but also because of the latter’s inability to compete with state power producers, most of which have access to cheap feedstock.
Soaring inflation and the new US economic sanctions imposed in 2018 has significantly increased the import cost of equipment and parts, including photovoltaic inverters, panels and cables.
Experts believe that investing in renewables is no longer economically viable, unless the government revisits its policies.