Virus Delayed Routine Upkeep of Power Plants
EghtesadOnline: Routine maintenance of 84 thermal power plants has been completed with a 33-day delay, head of Technical Affairs Department of the Thermal Power Plants Holding Company said.
“Overhaul that started in September 2019, should have been over by the end of May, but an array of problems impeded the project,” Esmaeel Namazi was quoted as saying by ILNA.
In addition to feeding the power stations with liquefied fuel (mazut) instead of natural gas from Dec 2019 to Feb 2020, the coronavirus spread created hurdles resulting in the delay, he noted.
Unlike 2018 when overhaul was over in May, use of mazut in power stations made maintenance work difficult.
In the 60-day period (Dec 2019 to Feb 2020) gas consumption in the household sector jumped to 630 million cubic meters per day. As a result, gas delivery to plants was cut and replaced by liquefied fuels.
“This (use of eco-unfriendly mazut) hurt efficiency, and to make up most stations had to keep generating power and a few were overhauled.”
Referring to the adverse impact of Covid-19 pandemic, he said operations had to be carried out with regular interruptions and progress was slower compared to the past.
Moving technical staff to different cities between March 26 and April 18 when the country was under lockdown was an arduous task because some organizations did not issue the permits to get started.
“Overhaul teams were obliged to follow procedures (wearing respirators, gloves and regular use of sanitizers and disinfectants) which further delayed work.”
According to Namazi, most of the equipment used in thermal power plants has been indigenized. Local companies manufacture about 1,000 components for power stations approved by the Institute of Standards and Industrial Research of Iran.
To add insult to injury, domestic firms which were in charge of producing special parts were shut down in the lockdown period. Moreover, borders were closed and some goods (namely boiler pipes) were imported with 2-month delays.
Network load reached 57,500 megawatts during peak hours in the last fiscal year (ended in March) and is expected to reach 60 gigawatts this summer.
Cost of overhauling thermal stations was $500 million in 2019. Thermal plants account for 80% of total power generation (84 gigawatts) in Iran with 83 million people.
THPCC oversees dozens of fossil fuel power plants with installed capacity of over 67,000 MW -- the bulk of Iran's electricity demand.
Repair and maintenance of thermal power plants has added at least 2,000 megawatts to the total output.
Iran's power industry is 14th in the world in terms of output. However, most of the electricity is produced by plants using fossil fuels. This is causing concern among climate activists and environmentalists who have been regularly calling for effective measures by the government to expedite the move toward renewables.