08/26/2021, 11.58
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Baghdad bets on Beijing to develop solar energy plants

The Iraqi government has signed an initial agreement with the giant PowerChina for the construction of a power plant with a capacity of 2 thousand megawatts. The world's second-largest Opec producer, the country depends on imports from Iran, which is subject to U.S. sanctions. In 2020, it burned about 17.37 billion cubic meters of gas. 

Baghdad (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Iraq has signed an initial agreement with Chinese energy giant PowerChina, for the construction of solar energy plants with the capacity of about 2 thousand megawatts. This was announced yesterday by an official source of the government in Baghdad, according to which in the first phase of the project the plants will have a capacity of about 750 megawatts, which will then increase in the future. 

Supplies from Iraq's main energy network suffer throughout the year from blackouts, which last even several hours a day. However, the problem is exacerbated during the summer months when temperatures regularly reach 50 degrees - especially in the south - and households must rely on air conditioners, heaters and fans. 

Iraq is the world's second largest producer among Opec nations, but it wants to decrease its dependence on electricity imports from Iran. In addition, Baghdad is under increasing pressure from the United States to break free from its ties to Tehran subject to U.S. sanctions since 2018 reimposed by then-President Donald Trump. 

In all these years, the two U.S. administrations (Republican and Democratic) that have come to power have granted waivers to Iraq, to allow it to import energy from the Islamic Republic. The last limit is fixed for December, but from many parts are asking for a decisive intervention in order to put an end to the chronic deficiencies that affect both the daily life of families and the productive sector.

According to the World Bank, Iraq was the second nation in the world for consumption in 2020 (a position it has held for five consecutive years) after Russia, burning about 17.37 billion cubic meters of gas. In addition, the political crisis (and corruption) that has hit the country has hindered several long-term projects aimed at the development of gas extraction. Added to this is the continuing influence of Iran's neighbor, which has also determined its energy policies, and repeated attacks on power lines and high voltage lines by the Islamic State and other fundamentalist groups, including pro-Tehran militias.

This year, the Baghdad government has already signed renewable energy contracts with TotalEnergies and Masdar, the renewable energy arm of Abu Dhabi's sovereign wealth fund, Mubadala Investment Company. The agreement with Masdar includes the development of solar projects with a total scope of about 2 gigawatts and would help achieve the goal of generating up to 20/25% of its energy from renewable sources (equivalent to 12 gigawatts by 2030). Energy import negotiations are underway with Jordan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Cooperation Council nations. 

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