Iran-EU Workgroup to Expand Energy Ties

Iran-EU Workgroup to Expand Energy TiesIran-EU Workgroup to Expand Energy Ties

Iran and the European Union have agreed to establish a workgroup to expand cooperation over a wide range of energy and environmental issues, Energy Minister Hamid Chitchian said after meeting with the EU Climate Action and Energy Commissioner Arias Canete in Tehran.

"The main purpose of this workgroup is to reinforce ties between the ministry and the European Union for tackling a host of issues related to energy and climate change," IRNA quoted Chitchian as saying on Sunday.

Canete was part of a high-ranking EU delegation, headed by EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, that visited Tehran last week to discuss bilateral cooperation in several fields, including agriculture, trade, investment, transport, education and culture.

According to a joint statement released on Saturday, the new chapter in Iran-EU energy ties is aimed at promoting investment and exchange of technology in power production and efficiency, strengthening the security of energy supply in the region and beyond, enhancing the transparency and operations of the global energy market and curbing greenhouse gas emissions.

The statement also calls for fostering the use of renewable energies, a largely neglected area in the Persian Gulf country despite its massive potential for power generation from resources such as wind and solar, thanks to its diverse climate.

In addition, the statement underscores EU's commitment to facilitating foreign investment in Iran's upstream, midstream and downstream sectors.

The Islamic Republic is seeking billions of dollars in investment to overhaul its aging oil and gas production facilities and build new petrochemical plants, but international companies are eying Iran's emerging market with caution, as the scope of trade and business with Tehran is still a grey area for most foreign firms.

Chitchian said achieving the new goals entails cooperation with the EU on promoting a low-carbon economy to minimize emissions, expanding research, development and innovation in small- and mid-scale water and electricity projects, introducing new renewable energy projects and increasing energy efficiency.

--- Environmental Challenges

The two sides are keen to double down on efforts to address Iran's pressing environmental challenges.

The new agenda calls for addressing air, soil and water pollution, management of water resources, tackling cross-border pollution and bolstering cooperation in environmental fields under the framework of multilateral environmental agreements.

Chitchian added that Iran-EU's new framework for cooperation will be in line with a master plan declared at the end of the UN Climate Change Conference in December to reduce climate change.

The two-week climate talks in Paris, dubbed COP21, concluded with an agreement on combating global warming, with the key objective of limiting the rise in global temperature to below 2°C.

To play its part in the Paris agreement, Iran aims to increase the efficiency of its thermal plants, reduce wastage in power grids, convert gas-powered plants into more productive combined-cycle units and promote distributed energy generation technologies.

Canete also said private-sector investors should be encouraged to bankroll plans for reducing carbon emissions, upgrading Iran's expansive electricity network, decentralizing power plants and expanding renewable energies.

On enhancing power efficiency in buildings and transport sectors, the official said, "Iran lacks experience in this area and the European Union is ready to transfer this experience via European companies."

Deputy Energy Minister Houshang Falahatian, the chief executive of Renewable Energy Organization of Iran, Seyyed Mohammad Sadeqzadeh, and Energy Ministry's health, safety and environment advisor, Bahram Taheri, are appointed as Iran's representatives in the joint workgroup.