Nothing more sinister than solar panels lurk amid the arid hills of rural Iran, apparently marking the country’s desire to wean itself off
fossil fuel and a contentious nuclear energy programme.
Large-scale solar projects have been implemented under President Hassan Rouhani, whose election last year brought about a change in Iran’s direction and policies.
The Iranian government has allocated $60m this year to develop photovoltaic solar projects compared to just $12m last year.
The Taleghan Renewable Energy Site, 160 kilometres northwest of Tehran, has photovoltaic solar panels and parabolic trough collectors that concentrate the sunlight for energy conversion into electricity
Saman Mirhadi is from the Photovoltaic and Solar Energy Office of Renewable Energy Organisation of Iran: “We are trying to boost the capacity of our renewable energy plants. Iran is planning to increase this capacity up to 5,000 megawatts from our present capacity, which is around 100 to 200 megawatts. Our target is 5,000 megawatts over a five-year period. Over the past two years new laws have been passed supporting the utilisation of solar and photovoltaic energy. The development of solar photovoltaic plants is our agenda.”
Iran has huge amounts of oil and natural gas reserves. However, sanctions have cut into the country’s refining and production capabilities.
Iran’s economy has also faltered, and the country’s push for nuclear energy has come under scrutiny over Western fears the program could be used to build atomic bombs.
Iran’s 300-odd days of sunshine a year make it one of the best spots on earth to launch a solar energy project:
Saideh Nasserabadi is a student of geomorphology from the
University of Kurdistan in Iran:
“Using solar panels could be very useful in Iran because we have long hours of sunlight because of Iran’s geographical situation. Therefore applying solar panels can be very productive.”
While being good for the environment, the panels also offer rural Iran a supply of steady power amid the uncertainty surrounding the country’s contested nuclear programme as it negotiates with world powers.
The government is offering subsidised solar panels for installation to ordinary families showing its resolve to expand solar energy.
Solar panels have been installed at some 1,000 locations across Iran, including the on rooftops of mosques, schools and government buildings.