Excess Electricity in Iraq?

By John Lee.

Iraq's Ministry of Electricity has announced that some power plants will be shut down due to a surplus of electricity generation, Azzaman reports.

The plants will undergo maintenance before coming on line to meet summer demand.

This may come as a surprise to some residents of major towns such as Baghdad or Basra, and in particular Nasiriyah which suffers frequent rolling blackouts.

The ministry claimed Iraq is now generating 16,000 megawatts on a good day, but that about 6500 MW is lost due to problems with the grid, attacks on infrastructure and other challenges.

In the past, the ministry has blamed other ministries such as the Ministry of Planning for delaying the laying of new power cables, and has even announced that Iraq's electricity problems have been solved.

So why does Iraq still suffer blackouts, and in some cases just 6 hours of electricity a day? The problems are many and much of the existing transmission and distribution system needs to be replaced.

Additionally, rises in family income mean more homes have electrical appliances such as air conditioning units. Demand has surged.

Some reports suggest up to a third of power is lost before reaching consumers, while newly built gas fueled power stations sometimes lack enough natural gas, and a dependence on heavy oil can cause excessive maintenance problems because it wears out equipment. Lower levels in the Tigris and Euphrates have also affected hydro-electric power generation.

Therefore, an increase in megawatts "on paper" does not always mean more homes with power in reality.

Iraq has allocated approximately $13 bn to repair its national grid and aims to generate 22,000 MW by 2015.

(Source: Azzaman)

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