Renewables + Utilities E1:R2
◢ Tehran has made great strides in incorporating solar cells into its municipal grid, particularly in parks and other public areas.
◢ The city plans to meet 16% of the electricity needs of its municipal offices from renewable sources.
Tehran Plans More Renewables
It has been a year since the Tehran City Council issued a document requiring the city administrative headquarters to consider renewable energy options. According to the terms of the document, the municipality is required to streamline development processes for the implementation of renewable energy. Highlighted renewable sources include solar, hydro, wind, and geothermal. Adoption has been slow.
However, one bright spot has been the installation of solar cells in Iran's parks. This program was part of a target set two years about by the Environment Department of the Tehran Municipality to generate 20% of the required electricity for the cities parks on site. Not only has Tehran reached this target, it has expanded the program to include other examples of city infrastructure. Today, 20% of the electricity needs of bus terminals, traffic signs, fruit and vegetable markets, public toilets, cemeteries, and recycling sites are met by renewable sources. So far, 765 public lavatories have been equipped with solar water heaters, and 5,200 solar lights have been installed in the city gardens. By the end of the Tehran municipality’s second development plan period, this amount is expected to reach 80%. According to the latest data from the Tehran Municipality, the administration has currently budgeted to supply 4% of the energy required for municipality buildings from renewable energy; by the end of the plan period, it is expected that 16% of energy requirements of these offices will be powered by renewables.
Tehran is also exploring the installation of a waste-to-energy generated at the Ab'ali digester plant as well as the installation of solar cells at the waste disposal plant in Aradkuh. For these projects, which require special technical expertise, the municipal government is reaching out to the private sector in the hopes of developing private-public partnership (PPP) agreements to drive new development.
Reforms in Water and Wastewater Tariffs
Previously Iran's regional resources were capable of supplying the local demand for water . Now, however, water needs to be transferred hundreds of kilometers from one region to another to balance supply and demand. One example is the 700 kilometer Kowsar water pipe which transfers water from Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad Province to the Khuzestan and Bushehr provinces. In the past, water treatment was neglected. Now, however, a great deal of care needs to be given to water treatment given current levels of nitrate, arsenic, and heavy metals present in he water supply.
The disposal of wastewater requires significant investment. The government alone cannot finance these projects. The sector needs private investment. Therefore, the government is seeking to sign buyback contracts in the water and wastewater industry. It also intends to reintroduce tariffs and give the private sector a role. The main challenge is to expand coverage of the sewage and treatment systems. Currently, the wastewater disposal system covers just 47% of Tehran, leading to immense wastage.
Iran’s Electricity Export Capacity
Members of the electricity industry are aiming to position the export potential of the country's excess production. Iran’s electricity grid is currently connected to all of its neighboring countries, enabling electricity trading. The country has exports between 8-10 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) to its neighbors each year. Iran currently has a positive trade balance in electricity of around 7 billion kWh.
Iran's diverse sources of electricity, including gas, steam, combined cycle, hydro, solar and wind generation give it a regional advantage in production. Over the past decade, Iran has sought to increase its energy output for domestic and regional use. The construction of transfer grids across its borders has been part of a concerted policy to promote electricity trading with Armenia, Pakistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Iraq and Afghanistan.
It is worth noting that Iran’s electricity is among the cleanest in the world, as 90% of production is from natural gas.
While electricity exports have been increasing, challenges remain. Old transmission technology and infrastructure leads to losses. Recently, however, electricity distribution losses have declined from 15.5% in March 2014 to 11.4% in March 2015. Each percentile decrease in electricity loss, saves 2.8 billion kWh annually.