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International expert: Electricity can be a cornerstone of growth for Iraq
Economy News Baghdad
During the Iraq Energy Supply Conference held in Baghdad early this month, the lights went out three times as the experts gathered discussed ways to rebuild the country's electricity system.
The holidays that took place are reminiscent of the difficult task of this sector, which falls on the shoulders of the Iraqi Ministry of Electricity to overcome them and make some progress on them.
Robin Mills, an international expert on energy strategy and economics, said in his report on the electricity sector in Iraq that the sector has not recovered substantially since the damage it suffered during the first Gulf War and then the siege and economic sanctions during the 1990s and the ensuing chaos and looting during The stage of the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the consequent staggered reconstruction.
The rate of electricity generation did not reach the pre-invasion level until 2008. From 2012 onwards the rate of generation began to grow really fast but was soon reduced due to the devastating incident of the invasion of an organization calling for large areas of Iraq in 2014 caused the destruction of most of the infrastructure For the electricity sector in the north and west of the country.
On the other hand, the rate of population growth in Iraq adds more than one million people annually to the country's population as well as there is a growing demand for air conditioners during the hot summer weather in addition to television sets and the supply of crowded supermarkets newly established in large areas of Baghdad with the need of electric power. With electricity available from 12 to 16 hours a day, even the progress of adding new generation can hardly cover the gap.
Taking into consideration, theoretically, 30 gigawatts of power plants, Iraq is at its best, generating nearly 15 gigawatts over the past year. Repair attempts have increased this year to 18 gigawatts.
Iraqis have worked to bridge this gap through diesel generators in residential neighborhoods, which are often expensive and produce disturbing sounds as well as pollution. Despite the subsidized electricity prices generated by national government stations, the Iraqi home pays four times as much as the homes of neighboring countries pay electricity for poor service. Residential generators are often not enough to operate an air conditioner, although the new expensive cooling systems they can operate in are common.
These problems have worsened with the severance of gas and electricity supplies from Iran caused by non-payment of wages. The United States has pressed Baghdad to end its reliance on Iran for energy imports, although it has given it a short-term exemption from sanctions.
Reform of the electricity sector needs to be precise and management: The Ministry of Electricity to cooperate with the Ministry of Oil to ensure fuel to reach the required rate of production with a suitable capacity to be able to distribute electricity to the correct parties. Electric power projects have long been plagued by real corruption with charges of politically motivated corruption as well as bureaucracy in dealing. Now, foreign political pressure has added another obstacle.
The Ministry of Electricity should increase the electricity tariff and force residents to pay bills so that they can cover their costs and curb excessive demand for energy. But angry activists and parents complain about the deterioration of services and refuse to raise prices.
The Ministry of Electricity has recently turned its attention to generating approximately 755 MW of various solar sites around the country, which will be the country's first large-scale experiment in solar power generation.
Solar power plants are often inexpensive and can be installed quickly and do not depend on unreliable fuel supplies and can be found in places close to residential communities to avoid the problem of transmission lines.
Iraq could benefit from the experiences of neighboring countries such as the UAE, Jordan and Egypt in implementing solar power generation projects that could initially start from small-scale projects to major solar plant projects.
High temperatures, water scarcity and frequent electricity cuts often infuriate residents, accompanied by a lack of stable economic activity.
Now, with relative security, the government can find solutions to the country's practical problems.Patience must be parallel to the process of tangible progress in this area during the next decade to keep the lighting going on without interruption for ever.
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