Combined-Cycle Plants to Help Reduce Air Pollution

Combined-Cycle Plants to Help Reduce Air PollutionCombined-Cycle Plants to Help Reduce Air Pollution

A total of 4,000 megawatt (MW) gas-fueled power plants will be replaced with combined-cycle plants by yearend, as part of the drive to reduce the energy sector's contribution to the air pollution, energy minister Hamid Chitchian said, IRIB reported.

The electricity sector as an energy supplier, is itself a major consumer, converting a form of energy into another, the minister said Sunday at a conference on air pollution.

One third of the country's natural gas is consumed at power plants. Around 260 billion kilowatt hour of electricity is produced per annum, of which 217 billion is consumed. "Between 90 to 92 percent of electricity is generated using fossil fuels," he noted.

High rate of electricity wastage at distribution networks, the huge share of fossil fuels, increased share of liquefied fuels in power plants' consumption from 17 percent in 1382 (2003-2004) to 46 percent in 1392 (2013-2014) and power plants' low efficiency rate are among the major factors leading to pollutant gas emission in the electricity sector.

"Power plants are rendered inefficient owing to a lack of investment," Chitchian said. In order to tackle air pollution, the energy ministry plans to construct power plants outside city areas, and also increase their efficiency by converting them into combined-cycle plants.

The plant's conversion program alongside the utilization of several steam turbines with 8,000 MW capacity would help save fuel consumption by $3.7 billion. Efficiency of power plants across the country is estimated to be around 37 percent, but the ministry has plans to enhance efficiency by attracting private companies and introducing new projects.

In the first seven months of President Hassan Rouhani's administration, which took office in August 2013, several agreements were signed with private investors for replacement of 3,800 MW gas-fueled power plants. The private sector is permitted to operate the power plant as an open-cycle plant for the first two years, but afterwards it must convert it into combined-cycle plant.  

Natural gas, known as clean fossil fuel, accounts for about 70 percent of Iran's total energy consumption. However, the air is one of the most polluted in the world, with four Iranian cities among the world's ten most polluted, according to the World Health Organization.

Combined-cycle power plants normally use both gas and steam turbines to produce up to 50 percent more electricity from the same fuel than traditional power plants.