Tehran, Baku Mull Renewable Energy Coop.

Tehran, Baku Mull Renewable Energy Coop.Tehran, Baku Mull Renewable Energy Coop.

Energy Minister Hamid Chitchian said Iran is ready to cooperate closely with Azerbaijan in renewable energy development projects.

After holding talks with Azerbaijan's Minister of Economic Development Shahin Mustafayev on Sunday, Chitchian said, "Serious negotiations were held between Renewable Energy Organization of Iran and Azerbaijan’s State Agency for Alternative and Renewable Energy Sources to build wind and geothermal power plants in Meshkinshahr in Ardabil Province, as well as Khaf in Khorasan Razavi Province, which will become operational in the near future," ISNA reported.

Pointing to Iranian policymakers' high interest in renewable energy sources to meet its projected growth in electricity demand, Chitchian added that the accomplishment of the objective is not only realistic and desirable but also feasible, as Iran has an advantageous topography for renewables.

According to the energy minister, Iran needs to generate 5,000 MW of renewable energies by 2015 as stipulated in the Fifth Five-Year Economic Development Plan (2011-16). While the share of renewable resources in the country’s total energy production stands at 0.5%, it is expected to reach 5% in the next four years.

Azerbaijan and Iran have already established a working group to implement projects in the alternative energy sector.

Jamil Melikov, the deputy head of SAARES, said the working group was established on the basis of a memorandum of understanding signed with Iran's Energy Ministry.

Melikov said cooperation with Iran covers a wide range of activities.

"We are very interested in the exchange of technical data, particularly in the hydropower and geothermal energy sectors. The projects, in which we plan to participate, are associated with the global energy system, the so-called transmission lines and substations, and the voltage level used for transmission," he said.

"The development of alternative energy is of significant importance for both Tehran and Baku. Therefore, their governments seek to introduce modern technology and involve foreign investors in renewables' sector."

   Energy Collaboration With Caucasian States

"Iran's Energy Ministry is willing to expand collaboration with Caucasian countries, especially Azerbaijan, in water and power development projects," Chitchian said.

Pointing to Khoda-Afarin earth-fill embankment dam on Aras River straddling the border between Iran and Azerbaijan, the minister said  measures have been taken in Iran and there are secondary issues that will be handled as soon as possible.

"Synchronizing the electricity networks of Iran, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Russia will be of great benefit to all," he said.

"Unlike Caucasian countries, Iran's peak electricity demand is in summer. Thus, electricity can be imported from those states in summer and it can be exported to those countries during winter, reducing the substantial budget needed to build new power plants."

Mustafayev is optimistic about the future prospects of energy cooperation between the two states.

Referring to lengthy negotiations on Khoda-Afarin dam's irrigation networks, the Azerbaijani minister said, "Notwithstanding all talks, the project is yet to become operational. However, we hope the two sides will help implement the plan sooner or later."

Mustafayev believes that now is the time to embark on electricity trade.

Stressing that connecting Iran's electricity network to that of the Caucasian countries will definitely yield reasonable profits, he hoped that as soon as technical issues are tackled, the power exchange deal will be concluded among the three states.

In a recent meeting between Chitchian and Georgian Energy Minister Kakha Kaladze, the two sides discussed power plant construction in Georgia as well as the expansion and renovation of the Caucasian country's electricity network and its linkup with those of Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Stressing that electricity export to Europe via Georgia is on the Energy Ministry's list of priorities, the Iranian minister noted that synchronizing the electricity networks of the three countries is of great urgency and will be followed in March 2016 in Tbilisi.

Chitchian believes Iranian companies can play a key role in implementing Georgia's hydroelectric development projects.