Iran set to steeply raise power capacity this year

Press TV- Iran will install 4,000 megawatts of new capacity in its power grid by the end of the current Persian year in March 2018, Deputy Energy Minister Houshang Falahatian says. 

“Therefore, the overall capacity of the country’s power plants will reach 80,000 megawatts at the end of the year,” the Fars news agency quoted him as saying Saturday.

Iran has already built 7,405 megawatts of new capacity over the past three and half years, including 2,200 megawatts last year, Falahatian said.

Beside building new plants, the country’s priority has been to convert fossil-fueled facilities into combined cycle systems powered by gas, thus boosting efficiency in addition to cutting greenhouse gases, he said.

Energy Minister Hamid Chitchian said Iran has to generate 5,000 megawatts of renewable energy over the next five years. His ministry has received requests for $3.6 billion of investment from private companies to produce renewables, he said.

“At present, about 11,600 MW of capacity installed in the country’s power plants is renewable, which accounts for about 15% of the total installed capacity.”

From R to L: Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak, his Iranian counterpart Hamid Chitchian and Iran’s Deputy Energy Minister Houshang Falahatian meet in Tehran, Oct. 23, 2015. (Photo by IRNA)

Iran is heavily dependent on natural gas and oil to generate power and one of the most energy-intensive countries in the world because government subsidies for fossil fuels encourage inefficient energy use.

Water shortage and air pollution is becoming an acute problem for the country of more than 80 million people, forcing officials to embrace expanding renewable energy capacity.

Solar and wind power generation grew seven-fold last year against the year before, hitting 300 MW. Over the past three years, Iran has cut diesel and furnace oil use in its power plants to 14% from 43%.

Officials say the country needs to invest $7-8 billion a year in its power generation and distribution sector in order to keep pace with its growing demands.

Iran has currently electricity exchanges with seven countries, with further plans in the works to have national grid hooked up to those of Georgia and Russia, according to Chitchian.