Iraq takes first concrete steps into solar


The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has issued a tender to seek solar consultants to help the Iraqi Ministry of Electricity implement its catalyzing the use of solar photovoltaic energy policy, an initiative aimed at deploying 5 MW of residential PV capacity through the Bytti residential development in Najaf, in central-south Iraq, and also supporting the construction of large-scale PV power plants.

The $35.1 million project is also intended to support the development of a regulatory framework, technical guidelines, capacity building and institutional arrangements for the development of public and private independent power producer solar projects. Interested consultants have until January 15 to submit an offer.

Meanwhile, Frost & Sullivan Business Development Manager, Ali Mirmohammad says Iraq is expected to have an installed capacity of more than 5 GW of PV – plus about 1 GW of wind energy and 0.2 GW of bioenergy – by 2028, a capacity that would be enough to satisfy 10% of the country’s power demand.

Electricity demand set to soar

“This kind of electricity development program in Iraq requires more than $50 billion of capital within 2018-2028, presenting significant opportunities for companies that supply to this industry,” Mr. Mirmohammad said.

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The consultant says Iraq’s renewable energy plans have received support from the World Bank, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and the Regional Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency as well as the UNDP. IRENA announced in June it had integrated Iraq’s new solar map into its Global Atlas. “Iraq has tremendous potential to develop its own domestic renewable energy resources and its government has identified solar development as a clear, long-term priority,” said Henning Wuester, the organization’s Director of Knowledge, Policy and Finance.

In 2017, Iraqi installed power generation capacity – mainly based on fossil fuels – stood at around 11.3 GW, with demand of around 17 GW. Electricity demand in Iraq, about half of which is for air conditioning, is expected to rise to 32 GW by 2028, which means an additional 20 GW of generation capacity will be required. As a result of electricity shortages and rising demand for air conditioning, around 90% of Iraqi households have resorted to diesel operated by private independent operators, according to the UNDP.

Iraq’s average solar insolation of 5.1 kWh/m2/day is 70% higher than that of Germany.

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