Despite being OPEC’s third largest oil exporter, Iran has been exploring alternative forms of energy for indigenous use. While its Bushehr nuclear reactor, the country’s first, is soon to come online and has attracted much international criticism due to widespread belief that it masks a covert nuclear weapons program Iran is also investigating other options, including solar.
Iran has announced the opening of a 42 kilowatt solar energy plant in Mashhad, Iranian TV reported.
Indicating the government’s belief in the future potential of renewable power generation, the government has contracted to buy electricity produced by solar installations at a price two times higher than the price of electricity generated by traditional fossil fuel power plants.
The Mashhad solar installation’s initial capacity is 42 kilowatts, which will rise to 110 kilowatts generating capacity once its second phase of its expansion is complete.
Iran’s Environment Protection Organization head Mohammad-Javad Mohammadi-Zadeh during an interview noted that solar power was a natural for Iran, as in places like Khorasan, the region enjoys 300 sunny days each year and “even if it is cloudy, you can still use the natural light.”
The Mashhad solar installation’s cost approximately $300,000, and it is expected to be operational for the next five decades. The Mashhad facility is the first in the country that is equipped with solar tracking, with the solar power generation panels changing their direction in response to the sun’s movement.
By. Charles Kennedy, Deputy Editor OilPrice.com