Iraq is signing contracts with international companies to produce clean energy in a bid to curb its rising pollution curve.
According to Al-monitor.com, Iraq’s projects to develop 7.5 gigawatts (GW) of renewable power before 2023 in line with the Ministerial Energy Council decision are on the right track. This was confirmed in a statement by Iraqi Oil Minister Ihsan Abdul Jabbar Ismail broadcast Oct. 3 on SkyNews Arabia.
So far, the Iraqi government has concluded contracts with a group of international companies specialized in clean energy to establish power stations with a capacity of 3.5 GW, as part of a plan to produce 12 GW.
Most recently, Iraq inked with Abu Dhabi's state-owned Masdar a contract to develop solar photovoltaic projects of a combined capacity of 1 GW. The first stage of these projects is being implemented now. They include a 450-megawatt (MW) plant in Dhi Qar, a 350 MW plant in Anbar, a 100 MW plant in Ninevah and another 100 MW plant in Maysan. The Iraqi government also signed a contract with French oil company TotalEnergies for building a 1 GW solar plant in the Basra region. This is in addition to an agreement with a consortium led by Norway’s Scatec to build a 525 MW solar project consisting of a 300 MW plant in Karbala and a 225 MW plant in Babylon, at the cost of 3.6 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh).
The first solar-powered plant to be added to the national power generation system is the Total 1 GW plant. This is expected at the end of next year. The other solar power plants are to be added gradually in 2023.
Ismail, who is also head of the Ministerial Energy Council, said Iraq has several programs for the transition toward clean energy. “We have so far signed three contracts for the establishment of solar-powered electric stations,” he noted.
He pointed out that Iraq has so far implemented 40% of the program to establish renewable energy projects, stressing his country’s abidance by environmental emission limits in order to reduce emissions and pollution.
Iraq suffers a great electric power shortage. It generates less than 21,000 MW while it needs 30,000 MW. This is in addition to a shortage in gas that operates power stations. Iraq needs $15 billion annually to attain electricity self-sufficiency, and the country's revenues cannot meet the electricity sector’s requirements in light of the public sector's high expenditures.
Iraq has not attempted to establish any clean energy electric stations during the past years. Its current efforts follow its accession to the Paris Climate Agreement to reduce greenhouse emissions at the beginning of this year.
The shift to solar energy in Iraq does not come without problems that require specialized studies. For example, the country’s dilapidated electrical system is unable to withstand the fluctuation of energy production. This is in addition to the drop in thermal efficiency with the increase of temperatures.
Iraq's shift toward clean energy can add to the country's budget more than $5 billion annually from the exploitation of crude oil, which can operate electrical stations and end gas imports from Iran.
Iraq is highly ranked on the environmental pollution scale. This is due to the increase in oil production and gas burning, the increase in the number of cars and private generators, in addition to the vast desertification. This has resulted in a major crisis that has led to thousands of new cancer cases annually. To make things worse, the temperature rose above 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit) this past summer.