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Renewable energy thrives in Iran despite sanctions threats

Nasir Al-Mulk Mosque in Shiraz, Iran, also known as Pink Mosque

Iran’s renewable-energy capacity is projected to grow sevenfold in the next five years, following the Iranian government’s signing Tuesday of a $2.9 billion deal committing Norwegian company Saga Energy to build several new solar power plants in Iran. Fareeh Bahrami, an official at SATBA, a state agency that promotes renewables, told Reuters that Iran has a goal of installing five gigawatts of renewable capacity by 2022.

“Iran is trying to increase the share of renewable energy in the energy mix of the country and also (honor) our international environmental commitments,” he said.

Up to 1.7 of that amount could come from new solar and wind farms that Dutch energy firm Global Renewables Investments (GRI) plans to build within the country. Another European firm, Quercus, has invested half a billion Euros in Iran to help build a solar farm that will be the sixth-largest solar farm on Earth once it is completed.

Iran now has only 340 megawatts of renewable energy in place. And it has agreements with 124 companies in place—including Saga—to install another 2,380 megawatts, according to the Iranian Energy Ministry.

European companies began investing in Iran’s energy sector in earnest after the U.S.-Iran nuclear accord of 2015, which lifted U.S. sanctions. But President Trump’s recent announcement that he might de-certify the deal has raised concerns that U.S. sanctions might resume. Greek energy firm Mytilineos, which built a 10-megawatt solar farm in Iran, said that it is waiting for further White House pronouncements before it makes any new Iran investments.

Other companies will press ahead, however. Quercus and GRI both said that their Iran strategies will not change even if the United States imposes sanctions again.

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