KRG Minister of Electricity Kamal Muhammad Salih Khalil on the projects that will boost the current electricity capacity, renewable energy vision, and the future investments.
How many power stations do you have, and what is the generation capacity in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI)?
We have 14 substations, which generate power using different kinds of fuel: natural gas, HFO, diesel and hydro. Chamchamal, Bazian, Khurmala and Erbil power plants use natural gas. We also have a diesel-powered plant in Duhok. We have Baadre, which uses HFO. We have two hydro power plants: one in Dukan and one in Darbandikhan. A third facility is under implementation in Deralok. We have currently a 6,737 megawatt (MW) installed capacity for generation. About 90% of our generation belongs to the private sector. Some of the output goes to factories, and the rest goes to the public sector and industrial areas. In total, about 65-70% of the power output goes to domestic use. We are also feeding Kirkuk 100MW and 350-400MW to Mosul as well.
What is the current total number of consumers and electricity demand?
The maximum demand is in winter, which goes up to 6,000MW. In summer, it is around 4,000-4,500MW. In spring and autumn, it is around 3,000-3,200MW. As of the end of October 2019, the number of consumers reached 1,574,000. We have supplied 17 hours and 8 minutes electricity per day in 2019.
We are planning to invest $1.2 billion in the next two years. We would distribute these funds to four sectors: power generation, transmission, distribution and control.KRG Minister of Electricity Kamal Muhammad Salih Khalil
What are the projects that will boost the current electricity capacity?
We have three power plants that are still a simple cycle: Karshae in Duhok, Khurmala in Erbil and Bazian in Slemani. Using the existing fuel, we can generate 1,250 megawatts from these three locations. It means that the stored capacity would reach over 8,000MW. We plan to generate 500MW from each plant respectively from the simple cycle, compared to the combined cycle from Karshae and Khurmala. However, due to budgetary constraints, we have not been able to boost capacity.
What are your current transmission projects?
We have 400KV voltage for transmission. Until now, we have focused on meeting this demand by building a 400 KV transmission line between all the governorates in the KRI. Until now we only have 400KV in Erbil. We have a 400KV substation in Slemani, but there is no line to connect. In Duhok, we still do not have a line or a substation. It is important to install a 400KV line in order to reduce losses and transfer a large amount in MW between Erbil, Duhok, Slemani, and the rest of Iraq. We now have five interconnections with Iraq, in Kirkuk, Slemani, Mosul and Erbil. It is important to use a 400KV line because each 400 KV line can carry 1,000 megawatts. However, the existing transmission lines, which are 132 KV, can only carry 100 megawatts. One line would replace 10 existing lines. A 400KV line is urgently needed for our region.
For renewable energy, we have five small hydro projects. Our strategy is to focus on solar and hydro power. We have also surveyed our region for wind power. We conducted a feasibility study for five years.KRG Minister of Electricity Kamal Muhammad Salih Khalil
What are your distribution projects?
We now have smart meters for distribution. We experience significant losses in our system; 30-40% of our energy is lost annually. With the smart meter, which we started using in August 2019, about 55,000 meters have been installed. This project will help us reduce those losses. We are working on getting funding for a SCADA system, which is linked to the control. We do not have a control system in our region to see all this degeneration and what voltage is installed in each governorate. With the SCADA system live screen, it will be easy to see how much energy a governorate is using. That project will require at least 40 million dollars. We are trying hard to guarantee that budget.
What are the projects in renewable energy?
For renewable energy, we have five small hydro projects. Our strategy is to focus on solar and hydro power. We have also surveyed our region for wind power. We conducted a feasibility study for five years. The results show that we only have wind in the winter. In other seasons, we did not get a positive result.
Only 8% of total generation comes from hydro. Gas is about 75%. Now, any new budget approved for generation will only be hydro or solar. There will not be any budget allocation for gas, HFO or diesel.
In the last two months, six companies have submitted offers to generate from solar. Some of the companies have submitted BOO contracts instead of BOT contracts. We have established a committee to study their offers. I think that we will have a clear view of our decision by December 2019. We will seek the approval of the Council of Ministers because no contract is less than 10 years. In this case, I should get a green light from our government to sign a contract with a company.
In the last two months, six companies have submitted offers to generate from solar. Some of the companies have submitted BOO contracts instead of BOT contracts. We have established a committee to study their offers.KRG Minister of Electricity Kamal Muhammad Salih Khalil
How much money has to be invested in the electricity sector in the upcoming year?
Due to existing budgetary constraints, what we are currently doing is only for emergency projects. We have gotten approval from the Council of Ministers once, for 15 million dollars. In November of this year, we also got approval for $20.8 million: $12.8 million for Zakho, $3.5 million for Darbandikhan, and $8 million for Soran.
In our strategic planning, we have reached stage seven. We are planning to invest $1.2 billion in the next two years. We would distribute these funds to four sectors: power generation, transmission, distribution and control. We need to work on them in parallel. Otherwise, the electricity sector cannot be improved.