Wednesday 22 November 2017

Renewable Energies in MAPNA Group

From 1948 onwards, the world has seen a steady rise in the level of average global temperature. Of the 17 warmest years in the last 136 years, 16 of them have occurred since 2001, according to data from NASA. The years 2014, 2015, and 2016 top the chart of the hottest three years in this period respectively.
The adverse impacts of global warming have already created agricultural, economic and sociopolitical crisis in many countries. Global warming, primarily a result of harmful emissions, has not left Iran intact, particularly in terms of access to water. And despite its high rank in terms of power generation capacity, has to cater to an ever-increasing demand under rising temperature.
But the alarming state of global warming today is not merely the consequence of unmonitored industrial activities of big industries, but also a result of apparently innocuous everyday activities of ordinary citizens. It is not only the smoke spewed into the air by coal factories that has created the current crisis, but also the fire that we build up when camping in the middle of a forest or the perfume that we spray against our body when leaving the house.

How can we help?

We all assume social and political roles for ourselves as members of the society. Taking up an environmental role, however minor, and contributing to reduction of greenhouse gases, is of no less significance. But in the battle against greenhouse gases, energy companies indeed shoulder a bigger share of the responsibility than the government or ordinary citizens.
For decades, fossil fuels have served as the main feedstock for power generation. Sources such as mazut, oil and natural gas that run power plants inevitably produce greenhouse gases.
Renewable energies have long been advocated as an alternative to fossil fuel-induced power generation methods: perennial sources of energy such as wind and solar do not hurt the climate, and never cease to exist. Using advanced technologies to harness these sources of energy and put them to use for power generation cannot be overemphasized. This is the power that can be captured and converted into light for our lamps, chill for our air conditioners and power for our cell phones.
Where does Iran stand among the countries that are using renewable countries? Despite being Iran a member of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) since 2012, only less than 1 percent of the country’s energy basket is supplied by renewable sources according to data from Power Ministry. Among private companies active in the energy sector in Iran, MAPNA Group has been a pioneer in the field of renewable energy. The company owns an independent subsidiary, MAPNA Renewable Energies Generation Company, and defines itself as part of the global campaign to combat emission of greenhouse gases and save the planet.

Carbon-free Kahak

“My sole companion is the breeze & Northern Wind/Save the breeze, everyone, in befriending me shall fail” said Iran’s most beloved poet Hafez in the 14th century.
Wind has been an inspiration of the poets and a motif of Persian literature for centuries. Today, more than poets, it is inspiring engineers who try to put it into industrial use. In developed countries, it is now a driver of green economy, helping to decrease reliance on non-renewable fossil fuels. Denmark, a forerunner in wind energy, supplied 42% of its energy demand via wind turbines in 2015.
MAPNA now boasts several wind farms across Iran, the largest of which is in Kahak, Qazvin Province, two-hundred kilometers northwest of the capital Tehran.
Capture of wind power and its conversion into usable energy in an optimal fashion depends on various factors, including possession of advanced technology and the quality of the wind, i.e. its speed and direction. Kahak, located 200 kilometers northwest of Tehran and in the industrial province of Qazvin, has been groomed by MAPNA for its wind energy projects. This is where high-pressure systems blow from north and northwest into the Kahak and Qaqazan region, envelopes the Qazvin Plain.

The massive natural potential in Kahak has intrigued MAPNA technicians to put their technical knowhow into use and exploit the wind power in this area via turbines. The gigantic machines running in Kahak Wind Farm -85 meters their tower, 50 meters their blades- are contemporary versions of their older cousins, the age-old windmills.
What would have been different if there was no Kahak Wind Farm? Akbar Adibfar, CEO of MAPNA Group’s Renewable Energy Generation Company, provides us with some insight. Besides supervising the Kahak Wind Farm project for years, Adibfar has also carried out years of research on wind farms and has written an authoritative book in Persian on the subject.
“If the energy to be generated in Kahak Wind Farm, 100 megawatts, was to be produced through fossil fuels, then we would have needed 11 million trees to absorb the pollutants emitted by the power plant. Also we would have needed 90 million liters of gasoline per day.”
Statistics released by United Nations tell us the same story: that every year of a wind farm operation means an average cutback in emission of 250 thousand tons of CO2, consumption of 2520 thousand cubic meters of water, and 90 million liters of gasoline.
“Kahak Wind Farm is planned to generate 100 megawatts of electricity relying on 40 new generation wind turbines,” Adibfar says. “The turbines are dispersed in an area of 4000 square kilometers across several villages. Of course, only two percent of this area is occupied by our power generation facilities of course, and the rest is for farmers and ranchers to use.”
In March 2017, 22 active wind turbines inaugurated operation in Kahak, generating 55 megawatts of power which is the power needed for over 18,000 households in the area.
Speaking of the existing capacity of wind turbines in Iran, Adibfar says: “While in developed countries where a significant portion of electricity demand is supplied by wind power, in Iran, renewable energies’ share is below 0.5 percent. Compare this to Denmark, which has occasionally reached the ‘golden moment’ where 100 percent of its electricity demand was supplied by wind power. Germany is also a successful country in this area.”
Lack of public awareness is another problem. Akbar Adibfar stresses the key role that NGOs play in raising awareness among citizens about the benefits of exploiting wind power. “Private sector is another missing link in Iran’s energy sector” Mr. Adibfar adds.

Iran’s Golden Moment?

CEO of MAPNA Group’s Renewable Energy Generation Company also points to Iran’s other renewable energy sources. “Solar power’s potentials are more than wind power. Remember, we are a land of shining sun. By installing advanced equipment in our desert regions, we can supply the entire domestic demand of 75 thousand megawatts of electricity. By realizing our wind energy potentials, we can add another 30 thousand megawatts to our energy capacity,” he says.
However, Adibfar reminds us that in Iran, wind power projects are more cost-effective in terms of construction budget and investment rate of return. The price of each kilowatt of electricity generated in solar farms will be significantly higher than that of wind power farms he says.

From Northwest to Northeast

Kahak is not MAPNA Group’s only renewable energy project. The holding is planning construction of a 50-MW wind farm near the ancient city of Nashtifan, a city in Razavi Khorasan Province, northeast of Iran, which is known for its ancient windmills. Class-A winds, much more powerful than those sweeping through Kahak, require stronger turbines in this area. Another region in northwest of Iran is also on MAPNA’s map. “The Aqkand wind farm in East Azerbaijan Province, near the city of Mianeh, is another major project of MAPNA,” Mr. Adibfar informs us. “We will start construction of a 50-MW power plant here.”