Iraq powers up on grid and solar projects

Written by
28 May 2024
Iraq powers up on grid and solar projects

500MW GCC electricity interconnection project on track for end 2024 completion while government reprises plan for country’s first utility-scale solar plant.

Iraq’s Ministry of Electricity has shared an update on plans to develop the country’s electricity sector, with news that the under-development GCC-Iraq Electric Interconnection project will be completed by the end of 2024.

The first project to be implemented outside the GCC power grid system, upon completion it is expected to provide around 500 megawatts per hour of electric power to help meet burgeoning demand in southern Iraq with potential to increase to up to 2,000 megawatts during summer.

The Iraqi government is also keen to advance clean energy ambition with reprisal of delayed plans to build the country’s first utility-scale solar plant, which is expected to supply enough clean electricity to power 350,000 homes. 

Located in Basra, southern Iraq, the contract for the one-gigawatt Ratawi plant was awarded in 2021 and will be built by France’s TotalEnergies as part of a US$27 billion integrated project that includes four oil and gas, and renewables facilities. TotalEnergies owns 45 per cent of the project, with Iraq and QatarEnergy owning 30 and 25 per cent, respectively. 

In April 2024, TotalEnergies signed off a duo of key contracts with Iraq’s Ministry of Electricity; firstly, a land lease deal, with the second covering plant connection to the national grid, construction of a 180-kilometre-long overhead transmission line, and substation. To be developed in four phases, the plant is expected to be completed by 2025.

According to reported ministry cited data, current electricity demand in Iraq is around 15 gigawatts, with current sub-par supply at just 14 gigawatts. This rises to up to 42 gigawatts during the high demand summer months, outstripping supply of 25 gigawatts. Historically, this has meant reliance on imports from neighbouring Iran.

Iraq’s national strategy to address power shortages and pursue sustainable alternatives is taking shape with the country’s cabinet approving plans in late 2023 to install 12 gigawatts of solar power by 2030. Projects totalling 7.5 gigawatts are power generation have been awarded to date.

Green hydrogen is also set to be part of the future energy mix with a South Refineries Company project, which will also feature a 130-megawatt solar plant, tagged for development with annual production capability of 800 tonnes.
In addition, a new waste-to-energy plant project, to be located in Al Nahrawan district to the east of Baghdad attracted a reported 17 bids with an announcement expected to be made shortly. The design-build-own-operate model plant will be able to treat 3,000 tonnes of waste per day and generate close to 80 megawatt-hours of electricity.

Developments in the oil and gas sector also saw the recent announcement by Iraq’s oil ministry of the results of the country’s sixth energy bidding round, which saw Chinese companies win 10 of the 29 oil and gas field projects over the three-day auction with 13 projects awarded overall.
A total of 22 energy companies prequalified for participation, including Arab, European and domestic entities, with five Chinese companies including Zhongman Petroleum and Natural Gas Group (ZPEC), Zhenhua, United Energy Group and CNOOC securing licences.

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