Power Exports May Be Suspended in Summer

Power Exports May Be Suspended in SummerPower Exports May Be Suspended in Summer

The energy ministry is mulling plans to halt electricity exports in summer to meet rising demand nationwide during the hot season, a decision that depends on a consensus of the electricity and oil sectors, according to the Majlis Research Center.

For some time now, diverse and opposing views have emerged on the key issue power export. Opponents maintain that almost $2.7 billion has been wasted because of power exports, stressing that selling the natural gas (now supplied to power plants that export electricity) to foreign clients would generate higher income. Advocates, however, argue that Iran can turn into a regional energy hub if it maintains and promotes its power export sector.

Iran exported nearly 10 million megawatt-hours of electricity in the previous Iranian year (ended March 2015), 14 percent less than a year earlier, according to published figures. Power imports also accounted for 3.9 million mWh last year, a figure that showed a 1.7 percent year-on-year increase, Tabnak news website said in a report. However, the country is most likely to face power deficit in the next few months. Last month, the Tehran Regional Electricity Company (TREC) said power consumption in the capital is estimated to increase by 5.5 percent year-over-year in summer.

Electricity consumption peaked at 9,000 MW last year, and analysts have projected that a 2,500-3,000 MW power shortage this summer is a foregone conclusion, while no major power plant is expected to come into operation in the next few months that can plug the gap.

Meanwhile, power consumption in the present year exceeded a record-high of 46,500 MW on Saturday, June 6, an unprecedented figure in springtime. Electricity consumption was recorded at nearly 35,000 MW on the same day last year.

On Sunday the mercury in Tehran climbed to 38 degrees Celsius (16:00 hours local time) while the weatherman in Ahwaz, southern Khuzestan Province, reported the sizzling heat at 48 degrees. Authorities in Tehran and most megacities have warned that if consumption is not cut by at least 10 percent, they would be forced to go in for blackouts to help meet the seemingly unending demand.

Iran’s installed power capacity is close to 73,000 MW. The country’s electricity industry ranks 14th in the world and first in the Middle East in terms of electricity generation.

It is the largest exporter and importer of electricity in the Middle East and exports electric power to Armenia, Pakistan, Turkey, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Azerbaijan and Armenia supply electricity to Iran under a swap agreement.