Analysis: Iran plans for wind powered future

IRAN: While Western media focus on Iran's nuclear intentions, the country has big plans for wind power, with at least 450MW expected online in the foreseeable future, in addition to the 117MW already online.

A Fuhrlander 2.5MW turbine at Mapna Kahak 2
A Fuhrlander 2.5MW turbine at Mapna Kahak 2

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"We expect that in two years we will see a very high rate of growth in wind power in Iran," said Hashem Oraee of the Iranian Wind Energy Association.

One of the drivers is last year's announcement that the government is targeting 5GW of renewable energy in 2018, much of which will come from wind, as it aims to diversify the country's energy mix and reduce carbon emissions.

To encourage deployment the government has introduced a raft of measures to attract private investment. These include a generous power purchase price guaranteed for five years. The rate currently stands at roughly $0.17/kWh (€0.15).

This is topped up with an additional payment, which can add up to $0.02/kWh, to counter exchange-rate risk and local inflation. After five years, the power is sold on the open market, where rates are currently around $0.07/kWh.

Other incentives include higher rates for power generated in peak hours, which increase revenue by about 15%, the Iran Wind Energy Association said. To help fund it, since last year all electricity consumers pay an additional $0.001/kWh on their bills.

One of the first private-sector initiatives under construction is a 20MW wind farm being built by Iranian conglomerate Mapna at Kahak using 2.5MW Furhlander turbines.

The first four turbines were  commissioned in 2014, to be followed by the rest this spring. The group plans to add a further 80MW at Kahak by 2017 and has at least another 650MW under development. While it already manufactures blades and generators locally, Mapna aims to produce its own turbines, including a 3.2MW machine.

Next up will be a 109MW plant at Khaf, belonging to Iran's Beheen Company in partnership with Mofid Financial Holding. They have signed a power purchase agreement and hope to reach financial close very soon, the company said.

In preparation, Beheen installed a 1.5MW Windey demonstration turbine in 2013 and has started civil works on the next phase. Windey and Guodian United Power will supply the turbines, with completion slated for the end of the year. Beheen is developing a further 900MW in phases of 100MW each and also plans to manufacture blades and towers and to assemble turbines locally in due course.

Another private-sector project expected online this year, also near Khaf, is 75MW owned by Asia Sazan. It will be equipped with 30 GE 2.5MW turbines. According to local rumour, the turbines were originally destined for a project in North Africa but the sale fell through.

Prior to these initiatives most of the turbines installed in Iran were based on Vestas 660kW machines, elements of which were originally made locally under licence by the Sadid Industrial Group.

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