The Middle East is continuing to show itself capable of boosting alternative energy sources without facing political backlashes from opposing sides of the aisle. In Iraq, large multinational corporations are working with the country’s ministry of electricity to see clean and renewable resources become a reality in the post-war environment, where investment is expected to skyrocket.
Last month, words became a future reality for the country after the ministry announced plans to spend as much as $1.6 billion on solar and wind power stations across the country over the next few years; not only will this add some 400 megawatts of power to Iraq’s national grid, which has been hit by daily blackouts, but it also has positive results for the environment.
Clean energy to reduce blackouts
A ministry official told Green Prophet via telephone that he believes Iraq is an ideal country to push renewable resources of energy, especially solar, given the vast open desert in the country.
“We are confident that by entering into these agreements we will be able to provide more energy to meet the population’s needs as well as boost our interest in renewable energy as oil stocks are beginning to see shortfalls here and abroad,” he said, adding that it was a “win-win situation” for Iraq to go solar.
And it comes at an extremely stressful moment for Iraq. Nearly a decade after the American-led invasion of the country ousted Saddam Hussein, the country continues to struggle to meet the needs of the overall population, garnering only 8,800 MW of the reported 14,000 MW of electricity needed to power the country. This has left many residents facing rolling black-outs.
The ministry believes that through boosting alternative sources of power, it will help deliver additional energy at lower costs, which will help the overall investment nature of the energy sector grow over the next few years.
“We are certain that by going this route, it can be the beginning of a new strategy that will see solar and wind power viable alternatives that can reach our goal of powering the country,” the official added.
International companies line up
Although the extreme weather of the summer months has passed, there are rising concerns that without a boost to the national grid, Iraqis will continue to suffer in those months, which makes alternative energy that much more enticing, and international companies are lining up to get involved.
According to the planning and studies departmeent at the ministry, Laith al-Mamury, Iraq has invited roughly 25 top corporations to manufacture and install solar and power projects in the country. The effort aims at boosting both energy needs and the country’s struggling economic situation.
Reuters news agency reported last month that companies on the invitation list include Japan’s Toyota Tsusho Corp, Swiss engineering group ABB and Egypt’s Orascom Construction .
Already confirmed, the ministry is putting an additional $200 million towards developing at least 50 MW of power to the grid by next year, with the focus being on border areas and uninhabitated spaces in the country.
It will be a first for Iraq, which has no solar or wind power projects currently developed in the country, although a few streets use solar devices for light.
In an ambitious beginning, the ministry has also reported that it will be able to continue to boost the national grid and reach the goal of 22 gigawatts of power capacity by 2016. Solar power and wind power are likely to be integral to this progress on electricity.
Image of flag of Iraq, Shutterstock