Sample research paper on renewable energy in Iraq

Renewable Energy in Iraq

Iraq is among the richest nations having oil wealth that is third largest proven oil reserve with low extraction cost. However, only a fraction of its oil wells are in development. In 2006, its crude oil export revenues represented around 60 percent of GDP and 89 percent of the government revenues. Iraq meets 94 percent of its energy needs through petroleum and is the 15th largest producer of oil. However, that leaves limited use of natural gas resources and hydro power. We propose to analyze the potential of Iraq to develop renewable energy resources including hydro power.

Since Iraq has an abundant supply of oil energy, the issue of renewable energy has not been addressed by Iraq with much seriousness. However, the issue of renewable energy for Iraq assumed significance for the American army that desperately needs to win the war, as evident from the Christian Science Monitor article: “The U.S. Army's Rapid Equipping Force (REF), which speeds frontline requests, is "expected soon" to begin welcoming proposals from companies to build and ship to Iraq 183 frontline renewable-energy power stations, an REF spokesman confirms. The stations would use a mix of solar and wind power to augment diesel generators at U.S. outposts”

Iraq’s Kurd region is relatively peaceful today. Kurdistan Regional Government is planning to augment its much needed electricity from wind and hydropower sources. Iraq as a whole, and particularly Kurdistan suffers from lack of electricity supplies due to poor infrastructure. The KRG ministry has proposed wind farm feasibility studies in all of its three northern Iraq provinces, apart from three hydropower feasibility studies. All the wind sites will be selected at Iraq's Dohuk, Erbil and Sulaimaniya provinces. However, the companies are in the process of selecting sites, collecting and analyzing wind data at the sites, design farms for the sites and conduct feasibility studies. The sites for the hydropower have already been chosen at the following places:

- The Halwan plant, with an estimated capacity of 52 megawatts, near Ifraz village in Erbil. - The Gali Balinda plant near Suri village in Dohuk with an estimated 111 megawatt capacity. - The Delga plant, in Delga village in Sulaimaniya, with 97 megawatts of estimated capacity (

Iraq’s power infrastructure is in a poor shape, and needs refurbishing on a massive scale. A number of their power plants are more than two decades old and under an adverse impact of long wars and sanctions. Since 2003, more than $4.24 billion of U.S. Iraq Relief and Reconstruction Fund (IRRF) money has been allocated to investment in the sector. When in 2006, Iraq’s average domestic electricity generation capacity was reported to be approximately 4000 MW, it represented merely 50 percent of the average national demand. It was in fact lower than the pre-war levels of 4500 MW even as the reconstruction target of the government was generation of 6000 MW. The nation has in fact been receding the target as in the first three months of 2007, generation capacity actually fell slightly due to security and feedstock supply issues. Iraq imports electricity to the tune of around 200 to 300 MW daily (

Iraq presents us with a typical case of a nation that appeared not to have too much requirement of energy going by kilowatt hour per capita demand in the pre-war era that was merely 120 W. In comparison the developed nations’ per capita were up to five to ten times higher. Its base capacity of 4000 MW was too little for everyone except those close to Saddam who could get constant electricity as perk. Rebuilding Iraqi hydro power projects began in Kurdish region way back in 1996 under the Electricity Network Rehabilitation Program run by the UN. This became more urgent when the Iraqi National Grid controlled by Saddam Hussein appeared likely to be no longer available to them and the three northern governors came to rely exclusively on hydro power. The goal to achieve 6000 MW by 2004 remained largely unattained because of regional disturbances that curtailed the Spring Maintenance Program, and the actual figure achieved was around 4500 MW. The Haditha hydro power plant alone added 110 MW to the grid. The Haditha dam over Euphrates river had been working at around 20 to 30 percent of its capacity. A significant progress was achieved however with the US $56 million contribution (

The achievements included the following:

• Full re-energisation of the 400kV power line connecting it to the grid.

• Laying of 223km of power lines and construction of 459 towers.

• Replacement of turbine # 6 due to cracked runner blades.

• Replacement of pumps, controls and motors. The ultimate hydro power capacity in Iraq is targeted at about 20,000 MW for which it needs to go a lot further.

As of now the nation faces grave challenges in electricity generation. The national grid could cater to no more than 12-14 hours of electric supply to the areas outside Baghdad, while the power remained barely for 6.5 hours per day in the capital in 2006. A year later there had been an increase of 2 more hours of power supply on average to the capital. The grave security scenario compounds the already woeful power scenario. Power transmission and distribution infrastructure, particularly around the capital, is frequently sabotaged resulting in the loss of about 1000 MW per day on an average. Power imports from the north were affected as of January 2007, when some 80 transmission towers between Baiji and Baghdad were reported destroyed by the hooligans. It is estimated that another 1500 MW is lost per day due to shortages of fuel and water supply for hydropower (

Iraq may well have begun to harness solar energy on a modest scale for even as it is starved of electricity, sunshine is in abundance. The work on electrifying streetlights of Baghdad with solar cells is already in progress. Iraq’s decision on clean energy has little to do with environmental concerns. The policy makers are more worried about security while the streets of Baghdad remain dark for the national power grid can barely supply enough electricity. The common Iraqi barely has enough electricity for few hours even as the US government has committed $ 4.91 billion to revamping the poor electricity infrastructure, and bringing new generating units online. The cost of generating solar energy is prohibitive. According to Brig. General Jeffrey Dorko, while one megawatt of electricity generation costs $ 1 million, the cost per megawatt of solar power generation is as high as six to seven times that (

Wind energy in Iraq is still to be tapped. The KRG has floated a tender to carry out detailed feasibility study into wind energy, the closing date of which is October 20, 2008 ( It is doubtful if any significant activity is being carried in respect of wind energy in any part of Iraq.

Conclusion: Although Iraq has immense oil wealth and oil reserves to let the nation worry over the energy crunch. Nonetheless, renewable energy is a pressing demand world over. As for Iraq, it had not only neglected the development of renewable energy sources but its hitherto existing energy infrastructure was also in shambles due to the ravages of war and sanctions. Of late, the government of the United States and its army are putting in their efforts for the development of energy sector in their reconstruction effort in Iraq. Among all the renewable energy resources, Iraq is likely to focus more on hydro power generation. The province of Kurdistan is especially making an all out effort to develop the renewable energy resources, especially since mid 1990s as its electric supply was threatened by the Saddam government. The government of Kurdistan is especially keen to develop the other alternative sources of energy as it recently floated a tender for the feasibility study for the same. As of now, the efforts to develop solar energy system are in very preliminary stage of lighting the electric poles in the streets of Baghdad. None the less Iraq is poised to meet its modest electricity target of 6000 MW that it should have according to the target achieved a few years ago.


Alex & Ra Zavis “Iraq’s electricity starved capital turns to solar” Los Angeles Times July 14, 2008. Retrieved October 8, 2008 from

Bishop, Jane “Iraq Tender: Wind energy feasibility study” Middle East Business Intelligence Sept.24, 2008. Retrieved October 8, 2008 from

“Iraq” Country Analysis Briefs, August 2007. Retrieved October 8, 2008 from

“Wind, hydropower on order for Iraq’s Kurds” Retrieved October 8, 2008 from

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