TBY talks to Jafar Mohammadnejad Sigaroudi, Deputy of Planning and Development of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Organization (SATBA), on developing renewable energy and working to attract foreign investors.

 Jafar Mohammadnejad Sigaroudi,
Jafar Mohammadnejad Sigaroudi is the Deputy of Planning and Development of SATBA. He has nearly 20 years of experience in the field of renewable energy and energy efficiency. He has presented more than 30 related papers at national and international conferences and seminars, and has been selected as a keynote speaker for many meetings related to waste energy and renewable energy investment opportunities. Due to the important role of renewable energy in the global energy mix, he is getting a PhD in environmental law.

What is the role of SATBA in Iran's shift toward renewable energy?

SATBA is a national hub and a center for research and technical activities for developing renewable energy and working on energy efficiency. Moreover, it is responsible for creating a proper ground for the implementation of power plant projects with the cooperation of the private sector and providing access to different sources of clean and renewable energy by using the great available potential of the country. We laid the groundwork with our analysis, feasibility studies, and resource assessment in the field of renewable energy and developed different renewable energy projects in the country with the help of pioneering companies from Europe and Asia. We also started pilot projects for each field of solar, wind, biomass, hydrogen, and geothermal power generation. We have an average of 300 sunny days in Iran per year, which demonstrates our potential in the field of solar energy. Moreover, based on our analysis, we have the economic potential to install a 30,000MW wind power plant in Iran. The technical potential is 140,000MW and, based on our studies, there are 15 potent geothermal regions in Iran that have great potential for geothermal power production. Every city in Iran with a population of over 200,000 people has the potential for the installation of a biomass power plant. These studies provide a roadmap for our organization to develop the renewable energy sector in Iran and implement our involvement in this field.

What is SATBA's role in increasing Iran's renewable energy capacity?

The current total installed power capacity in Iran is 75,000MW, of which 10,000MW comes from large hydropower plants. In order to increase the share of renewable energy in the country's energy mix, parliament tasked the Ministry of Energy and SATBA, through the Sixth Development Plan, to increase the share of renewable energy to 5,000MW in the next five years. The share of wind and solar are larger than other sources. SATBA will play a key role in this development. Two years ago we started a new policy to increase the capacity of renewable energy. Rules and regulations provide that the entire 5,000MW should be put in place by the private sector, either Iranian or foreign. SATBA's role is to formulate policies, coordinate the processes, and support the private sector, making the application process easier and less time consuming. We provide contracts to the private sector that will guarantee their return on investment. These guaranteed Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) contracts are between SATBA and private-sector companies and have a duration of 20 years. Throughout this period, investors can be assured that they can sell the generated electricity at a fair price, as the tariff is among the most attractive in the world. Many investors, especially from foreign countries, have expressed their interest in entering the Iranian renewable energy sector, alone or through a partnership with an Iranian company.

What is your outlook for the future?

The renewable energy market in Iran is emerging and attractive because the government and people of Iran are interested in environmentally friendly technologies. Based on our analysis there are many areas in the country that have great potential, especially for solar and wind projects. In the next five years, the Ministry of Energy wants to increase the total power capacity to 100,000MW. Most policymakers in Iran want to increase the share of renewable energy due to the great potential, environmental issues, and the ability of renewable energy to create jobs and deliver electricity to non-developed areas of the country. We are a developing country, and the demand for electricity is increasing. We try to find solutions for the challenges that foreign investors might still see. In addition, the private sector is allowed to export electricity to neighboring countries. We see a bright future for renewable energy in Iran and seek to overcome the remaining challenges and facilitate the process.