Iran plans to build two 100-megawatt nuclear reactors on the southeast Makran coast along the Gulf of Oman to generate electricity, a senior energy official says.
It is Iran’s first announcement of a location other than the southwestern coasts along the Persian Gulf for the construction of nuclear power plants which will overall produce 20,000 megawatts of electricity for the country.
The announcement was made Thursday by deputy head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Mohammad Ahmadian in Bushehr, home to Iran’s first operational nuclear power plant.
Ahmadian said the 1,000-megawatt facility has been generating electricity at full capacity since May 13 this year after the completion of maintenance work.
He said studies for the construction of two more power plants in Bushehr are being carried out with the participation of 17 research institutes.
The agreement to build the two 1,000-megawatt units was signed in Moscow in November 2014 by Iran’s nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi and Russia’s state nuclear agency Rosatom Chief Executive Sergei Kiriyenko.
Another deal signed between the two officials envisions possible construction of another two units at Bushehr as well as four more at another location to be determined by Iran.
Kiriyenko said then that the building of eight new reactor blocks in Iran was a big project expanding the two countries’ cooperation for decades to come.
Iran is overwhelmed by a growing demand for electricity as it is struggling to open new power generation capacities for its 80 million people.
At 70,000 megawatts, Iran’s power generation capacity is the Middle East’s largest but the country has to add up to 1,000 megawatts to its grid a year in order to keep pace with the runaway demand.
Iran is also trying to switch to cleaner energies from fossil fuels which make up more than 85% of its overall energy mix.
Nuclear energy is part of the plan, with natural gas being another alternative for cleaner fuel as the country is converting its thermal units to combined cycle facilities.
Iran also plans to build a renewable capacity for 5,000 megawatts of wind and solar power, with its first wind farm established in the north-central city of Qazvin. According to Iranian officials, projects for 1,300 megawatts of renewables are either underway or have been signed.
A recent breakthrough in nuclear negotiations, meanwhile, has drawn the attention of international renewable energy developers and some of them have already headed to Iran to scout for business opportunities.
Last week, a Suzlon Energy executive said that the Indian company, one of the world’s leading wind turbine suppliers, was competing with Germany’s Siemens for renewable energy projects in Iran.
Both companies had sent their representatives to Tehran to test the waters for cooperation.