Energy Investment, Water Crisis, Dams et al

Energy Investment, Water Crisis, Dams et alEnergy Investment, Water Crisis, Dams et al

Energy Minister Hamid Chitchian touched on the ministry's revenues, the national water crisis and revision of the country's much-criticized dam-building policies, among others.

In a televised interview on Saturday night, Chitchian said more than 1,000 projects, including those pertaining to water supply, wastewater network expansion and electricity distribution sectors, officially went on stream during the Government Week (ended Aug. 30).

The minister anticipated that the water and electricity sectors will attract $30 billion in foreign investments once the sanctions against Iran are lifted, Tasnim News Agency reported.

Supplying Hamedan Province's treated wastewater to Shahid Mofatteh Thermal Power Plant, increasing the plant's power generation capacity by 700 megawatts and the launch of Siah Bishesh Power Plant in Mazandaran Province in northern Iran are among the most prominent energy projects completed this year. As the first pumped-storage facility in Iran and also in the Middle East, Siah Bisheh plant has a power production capacity of 1040 MW, exceeding the output of Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant in the south.

Chitchian said, without naming names, that only two companies in the world possess the technology to build pumped-storage plants.

The plant, aimed at improving the stability of power transmission in the capital Tehran during the peak hours, comprises four 260-MW units, which can operate both in pumping and turbine modes.

  Hydroelectric Exports

The export of technical and engineering services and technologies in the energy sector generated $2.5 billion in revenues last year, a nearly 100% jump from $1.3 billion worth of exports the year before.

These were "completely carried out by the private sector" to 40 destinations, the minister said.

"Iran has become an exporter of power plant equipment … We are trying to deploy the new, more advanced gas-fueled power plants in Iran. Some 95% and 90% of the necessary water and electricity equipment are produced inside the country, respectively."

Iran’s electricity industry ranks 14th in the world and first in the Middle East in terms of electricity generation with an installed power capacity of 74,000 MW. It is also the eighth leading country in manufacturing power plants equipment.

Chitchian said 17 new technologies in the water and electricity sectors were unveiled last year and 26 more are expected to be introduced before the yearend.

  Water Scarcity

 Chitchian warned that the country is short on drinking water resources, and if not used judiciously, water could be rationed in some cities and towns.

He said cutting water consumption nationwide by merely 1%  helps save $333 million.

Average rainfall is around 750 millimeters in the world, while Iran's average precipitation has fallen to 205 mm in the past 15 years, down from 250 mm before a long and hard drought cast a shadow over the country.

  Dam-Building Policies

President Hassan Rouhani's administration has been making revisions on the imprudent trend of dam-building since he took office more than two years.

"The Energy Ministry has been working hard to revise the country's dam-building roadmap. The construction of some major dams should be stalled, such as those built at Lake Urmia," Chitchian said.

Located in West Azarbaijan Province, Lake Urmia in the past was twice as large as Luxembourg and the largest saltwater lake in the Middle East. However, it has shrunk drastically over the years due to a variety of factors, including the construction of a 15-km causeway and several dams over and around the water zone.

"Dam construction on large scales was justified 15 years ago, but not anymore, given the drought and increased water demand from the upstream sector," he said.

Chitchian noted that some dams are working at less than 50% of their total storage capacity.

Nine dams in eight provinces are about to become operational while big dams nationwide number 153.