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Iraq and its new programme to increase electricity production

The Ministry of Electricity presents this plan and claims that by 2025 it will be able to cover the cost of its current demand and produce around 44,000 MW
Solar panel installation in Kerbala, Iraq

PHOTO/ARCHIVE  -   Solar panel installation in Kerbala, Iraq

Iraq is starting to develop its energy industry. The Ministry of Electricity has just presented a new plan to increase the level of electricity production that will begin to be adopted in a short period of time. This new measure aims to reach 44,000 MW by 2025, as the country is currently struggling to meet its energy needs.

The Ministry has begun to develop this new programme, and to ensure its proper functioning, all types of energy sources, financing, augmentation and drainage through the transport and distribution sector have been included. With this, the executive aims to achieve sufficient production.

Despite the government's attempts to set up several solar farms across the country to diversify more energy, it is still not enough. These are only beneficial in the summer season, when the sun shines most of the day and temperatures are high enough to produce enough energy. 

Un trabajador con un tablero de un generador eléctrico, en Najaf, Irak
PHOTO/REUTERS - A worker with an electric generator board, in Najaf, Iraq.

Iraq falls short of its year-round energy demand. Currently, the country produces around 25,000 MW, but this number is below what it actually needs. 

The IEA, the International Energy Agency, adds that in addition to Iraq's lack of energy diversification, the country is totally dependent on Iranian gas to run its power sector plants. This energy dependence means that Iraq loses almost 50% of its capacity for various reasons, such as wear and tear on the grid and the difference between what is produced and what is delivered to consumers.

The loss is also caused by factors such as the age of electricity transmission equipment. The Iraqi authorities claim that they are damaged, underperforming and obsolete by today's standards, so that their electricity production is very low. In addition, they add that this equipment is often stolen or destroyed, making it difficult to obtain new ones.

Una vista del caos de cables de la distribución de electricidad de un generador en Najaf, Irak
PHOTO/REUTERS - A view of the chaos of electricity distribution cables from a generator in Najaf, Iraq
A problem that has been going on for decades

Since 2003, with the US invasion, subsequent governments have not been able to find an answer to this problem and, over time, more energy has been used than is produced.

"In the 1980s, Iraq achieved integrated self-sufficiency in electricity production in all provinces, which reached 9,000 megawatts," says Abdul Wahab Mwais, a representative of the Iraqi Ministry of Electricity. He also claims that the nation's decade-long sanctions have caused production to fall to very low levels. During this period, production fell more than 3,600 MW below normal, and it is worth noting that Iraq did not have the necessary tools to solve the problem and adopt new electricity projects to generate the necessary amount of electricity. 

During the two decades of Iraq's invasion and several wars, successive governments have tried to establish five partnerships for large power plants, but to no avail. Corruption, obsolete contracts and so on, not to mention the fact that the electricity sector has had to work in the black and without any law to protect it, have caused the country's economy to plummet and the situation will not improve. 

The country could have been self-sufficient long before if these problems had not been encountered. Between 2003 and 2014, attempts were made to generate electricity through projects funded by countries such as the US, Japan and Britain that could have produced large quantities, but this proved impossible. Even under DAESH control, large amounts of energy were generated, but only for a short period of time as there was a lack of gas to run the production fields.

Ciudad de Kerbala, Irak
PHOTO/REUTERS - Kerbala City, Iraq
Energy diversification, the real answer to solving production shortages

In order to remedy the situation, the Iraqi government is implementing this ambitious plan, which will also allow it to obtain energy from sustainable sources. Although the use of fossil fuels will continue to be prioritised, solar energy will be one of the allies to put an end to the problem of energy needs.

Iraq will work to reach agreements with countries such as the Gulf States, which used to depend mainly on oil, but have already begun to turn to sustainability as a way to decarbonise their industries. Of particular note is the agreement with a Chinese company to start operating the Al-Fayha solar plant, which will add nearly 750 MW to the grid.