Monday, 18 June 2012, 07:55 GMT
Steps towards 24 hour power supply

Kurdish Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani speaking at the ceremony of signing the contract for Kar Group and the Czech Export Bank for building a power plant in Erbil, June 7, 2012./GLOBE PHOTO/Safin Hamid

The Kurdish Globe

By 2015 Kurdistan will generate 3,000 MW of power and meet current domestic demands

With the current contracts and projects for power production in Kurdistan Region, the power generation capacity of the region is expected to reach 3,000 megawatts of electricity, which is enough to cater for the current domestic electricity consumption. However, if electricity continues to be wasted as it is now, government and investors have to think of ways of increasing production on a continuous basis.

A new 1000 megawatt power plant project in Kurdistan Region was kicked-off on June 7th in a ceremony in Erbil attended by Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani.

The project is funded by the Czech Export Bank, and implemented by one of the largest Czech construction companies, PSG International with its Turkish Partner Renaissance Construction. The contract was signed with the Kurdish Kar Group, a leader in the petrochemical industry in Kurdistan and Iraq.

The gas-steam power plant has a capacity of 980 MW, and will be built in Erbil. It is the first time that a foreign government bank has funded such an investment project in the Kurdistan Region.

Kar Group Head Office Manager told the Kurdish Globe that the first phase of this project had started in early April of this year and will finish by June 1st 2013. This phase has a capacity of 640 MW. And the second phase will finish by June 30th 2015 and will add 320 MW to the capacity of the plant to reach a total of 980 MW.

Although, the fast development pace in Kurdistan has been a factor behind the increase of demand in all aspects of lighting, agriculture and industry, according to Omed Ahmed, Kurdistan Region's Electricity Control Director, if electricity was not wasted then "we currently produce enough power to meet the demand of the whole region."

On average 2,050 MW of power is generated in Kurdistan. This rate decreases during nighttime but reaches 2,200 MW during daytime.

Electricity is the main cooling method in the summer and the main heating method in the winter, something which is not common in other countries, where there are other alternatives that significantly save energy.

Moreover, the electricity price in Kurdistan is significantly lower than other countries compared to the general income level and hence people do not bother to save energy.

Solar and wind energy are two major sources of power generation that Kurdistan can use, but have not been used until now. If the region invests in these sources, the current energy sources can be used in other ways to develop the region's economy.

According to a source who refused to reveal his name, the cost of producing electricity in the Duhok power plant is USD 3 million per day. This means that the government has to pay approximately USD 1 billion per year to generate 400 MW of power, in addition to the cost of buying more electricity from private companies.

According to Ahmed, Kurdish authorities have tried to meet the market demands as fast as possible, which is why they have resorted to these quick and short-termed power generation methods, while there is a global trend towards using natural gas for power generation again because it is cheaper than other types of fuel.

Kar Group authorities argue that in the Khurmal Refinery, a large amount of natural gas is burned and wasted, and that they are planning to use this gas for their new power plant. However, as the amount of the natural gas might not be sufficient for the plant, they might also use gasoline, which is both more expensive and more harmful to the environment compared to natural gas, but the plan is to minimize the use of gasoline.

Considering the expansion and development speed the region is now going through and the increasing demand for electricity, if the production level is not increased continuously, the region will soon face another electricity crisis. Another possible way to avoid crisis is to control the waste of energy.

Power shortage has been one of the major challenges faced by the region's citizens in the past couple decades. However, the increasing generation capacity of the region through construction of new power plants all around Kurdistan, has given the people hope that this crisis could become something of the past.

Changing the source of generating power from fuel, water and even natural gas to solar and wind energy on the one hand, and raising public awareness about the use of electricity and alternative energy sources for cooling and heating on the other hand, could be a major step towards significantly cutting costs of producing power and using allocated budgets for other critical developmental sectors and services.

Last year, the Region supplied electricity to Kirkuk and this year it is supplying Mosul. Developing a sustainable and efficient production and saving plan will lead to not only meeting domestic demand but also supply other Iraqi provinces with a part of their electricity needs.

The largest power plant in Kurdistan is in Erbil producing 1000 MW through its 8 units.

Suleimaniya power plant generates 750 MW, and Duhok has a 400 MW capacity power plant. 150 MW power is generated at the Baadre Plant and 120 MW at the Darbandikhan plant.

Total power produced in the region is 2,420 MW, but this capacity decreases during the periods of high temperature.

When the new power plant completes, Kurdistan would be able to produce more than 3,000 MW of electricity, while only a few years ago it did not produce 200 MW.