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Iraq forges ahead with plans for first big solar plant

Patrick Pouyanné, CEO of TotalEnergies, said last month that he expects the first phase of the project to be completed in 2025 Sarah Meyssonnier/Reuters
Patrick Pouyanné, CEO of TotalEnergies, said last month that he expects the first phase of the project to be completed in 2025
  • Iraq finalises deal with TotalEnergies
  • Construction of 180km transmission line
  • Land to build facility is secured in Basra

Iraq is proceeding with its first large-scale solar plant, which will be constructed by France’s TotalEnergies.

The 1GW plant will be built in Basra, southern Iraq, as part of a $27 billion investment agreement for an integrated project that includes four oil, gas and renewables facilities.

According to reports it will supply clean electricity equivalent to powering 350,000 homes.

TotalEnergies owns 45 percent of the project, Iraq owns 30 percent and QatarEnergy holds the remainder.

The French energy giant finalised two essential contracts last month with Iraq’s ministry of electricity. The first allows connecting the plant to the national grid and includes the construction of a 180km overhead transmission line and a substation.

The second deal secures the lease for the land on which the facility will be constructed.

Patrick Pouyanné, chief executive of TotalEnergies, said last month that he expects to complete the first phase of the solar project and the initial phase of the associated gas project in 2025.

The government is intensifying efforts to include renewable energy sources in the country’s power mix. It also plans to reduce gas flaring from oil operations to tackle power shortages and reduce its carbon footprint.

According to the International Energy Agency Iraq was using 37 percent of oil and 57 percent of gas for its electricity generation in 2021.

With 44 million people, the Opec member has a growing demand for power generation due to rapid population growth. According to Statista Iraq’s population is forecast to exceed 50 million in 2029.

Although its available capacity was only about 23GW last year, according to the Middle East Institute it needs at least 34GW.

Last year Iraq announced a target of meeting one-third of its electricity needs from renewables by 2030. This would require adding nearly 20GW of renewable energy.

The country’s cabinet has approved a proposal to install 12GW of solar power by 2030. It has awarded projects capable of generating 7.5GW until now. 

PowerChina signed an agreement to build another 750MW solar plant.

Abu Dhabi’s Masdar also plans at least four solar plants in Iraq. The first phase would allow a capacity of 1GW. Construction has not yet started.

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