Although Iraq is ranked as the world's fourth largest
oil producer, it is suffering a power crisis. Last summer was challenging, with
high temperatures and power cuts.
During the summer, the Iraqi provinces suffered about 12 hours of power cuts.
Iraq produces 15.7 gigawatts of electricity, while 23 gigawatts are required to ensure power is not cut off, which is likely to rise due to continuous increase in demand.
Shortage of gas supplies makes the matter worse. This has been caused as a side effect of the counter-terrorism operations.
The Iraqi government is aware of how big the challenges are. Therefore, the national development plan from 2018 to 2022 aims to increase production capacity to 53 gigawatts.
Achieving this objective will require the participation of the government and international and local companies.
General Electric is one of Iraq's oldest energy partners. It says that 2.1 gigawatts can be added by next summer, which is enough to power 2.1 million Iraqi homes.
One way to achieve this is to maintain and increase the efficiency of the electricity infrastructure, which is one of the targets of the Ministry of Electricity.
Another energy-saving source is a technology inspired by aircraft engines, which are power plants on wheels. They take only months to install. While the goal of these solutions is to ensure a better summer for Iraqis next year, they are not enough in the long term.
The majority of power plants in Iraq operate on a simple cycle. These stations are an easy entry point for generating electricity, but converting these stations to the combined cycle means generating about one third more electricity with the same amount of fuel.
The government believes that moving to the combined cycle adds 4.6 gigawatts, which represents a step in securing environmentally friendly electricity. This is the gas associated with oil extraction, which is burned and converted to carbon dioxide. This gas can be converted into electricity generating power.
About 30-40 percent of this gas can be used to generate up to 3.3 gigawatts using modern technologies, one of which is General Electric's H-class gas turbine, which is rated as the most efficient turbine in the world, according to Arab reports.
When talking about efficiency in generating electricity, it means a lot, because increasing the efficiency of operations by only 0.1 percent translates to savings of about $13 million in the use of fuel.
Electricity Minister Loay Khatib directed the Office of the Inspector General of the ministry to investigate the article in the Wall Street Journal that spoke of suspicions of corruption in the Ministry of Electricity, the ministry announced in late November.
The ministry's vision for the next stage focuses on two essential factors that are equally important, which are providing Iraq with the required electricity and ensuring financial and administrative integrity in all departments of the ministry, the ministry said in a statement.
"We stress the need to address all aspects of corruption and to bring corrupt people to justice according to administrative and legal contexts," the statement read, adding that they are also keen that anti-corruption efforts do not undermine the reputation of their employees without evidence.
The ministry called on the paper to provide the documents and evidence of what was stated in its report.
The Wall Street Journal reported earlier about corruption in Iraq's Electricity Ministry and among some businessmen, which the paper said may threaten the electricity development contract with General Electric, the newspaper said.
Independence from Iran
Informed sources said that Iraq set a new plan to dispense with the import of electricity from Iran and to search for alternatives from other countries. The sources said that Iraq's Ministry of Electricity set a plan of independence from Iranian electricity in a year and a half.
They pointed out that the ministry intends to submit the plan to the US to be granted a new period in terms of avoidance of US sanctions, so as to protect the energy sector during this period only, while working to prepare plans and new stations with other neighboring countries.
Observers confirm that Iran, through its people in Iraq, obstructed the construction of power plants in order to keep pressuring the Iraqi people when Iranians feel that their interests are threatened.
Iran has been fueling Iraq since 2007 with four power lines reaching Basra, Amarah, Diyala and Khanaqin, supplying these areas with only 1,200 megawatts, according to contracts signed between Baghdad and Tehran in 2007, 2011 and 2013.
However, this amount of electricity does not address the shortage of electricity in Iraq, as the country needs an additional 8,000 megawatts to fill the deficit in their networks. Iraq needs 23,000 megawatts to achieve full sufficiency, while the country currently produces only 15 thousand megawatts.