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Iran’s electricity blackout crisis

Cities across Iran are reporting lengthy and unannounced blackouts
Cities across Iran are reporting lengthy and unannounced blackouts

Analysis by PMOI/MEK

Iran, July 16, 2021—The Iranian people are suffering from various crises these days, such as the Covid-19, heat and drought. In addition to all these problems, they are facing an electricity crisis.

The electricity crisis is rooted in the Iranian regime's strategy. Instead of solving these problems, this regime spends all of Iran's resources on terrorism and nuclear ambitions and does not care about the fate of the Iranian people.

Iran's vast assets are in the hands of a regime whose goals and desires are to safeguard its rule by all means.

Iran’s wounds and problems have remained open and are continuously deepening for years now.

While the Iranian people have suffered from power outages and water shortages, regime officials acknowledge that electricity is being exported to other countries.

In this regard, the state-run ISNA news agency refers to cases in which the regime sells electricity to fund its proxy forces.

"Iran, with its vast oil and gas reserves, has the ability to exchange energy with all its neighbors that it shares land borders with. We can trade with Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Turkey. In addition, one of our biggest customers is Iraq. Iran has been exporting electricity to Iraq since 2004. Since 2008, a wide range of contracts have been signed to export electricity to Iraq," according to a June 23, 2020, report wired by the semi-official ISNA news agency.

It is noted that the "vast oil and gas reserves" that should be allocated to improving living conditions of the Iranian people, is spent on "increasing gas and electricity exports" to other countries to convert their income into dollars that can be used to export terrorism and crime in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

“Iran has not stopped exporting electricity to Iraq despite sanctions and some other problems,” said Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, according to the ISNA news agency on July 4.

While the Iranian people themselves do not have electricity, the regime is working hard on a 540-megawatt power plant in Latakia, western Syria.

Even though electricity has been rationed in Iran since March 21 (the beginning of Persian new year) and the Ministry of Energy announces electricity outage schedules for various provinces and cities every day, the gap between electricity production and consumption in Iran continues to widen.

"Currently, the electricity industry is going through very difficult conditions. Now the distance between electricity production and consumption has sharply increased due to hot weather, even reaching 11,000 megawatts," said Energy Ministry's Spokesman for Electricity Industry Mostafa Rajabi Mashhadi on Saturday, July 3.

The country’s power plants are currently able to generate only 54,000 MW of electricity which is nearly 12,000 MW less than the power demand, Rajabi Mashahadi said.

Previously, Rajabi Mashahadi indicated that the country's three major power plants were offline. "Repairs are underway in three power plants, including the Bushehr nuclear power plant, Ramin Ahvaz and Bandar Abbas, which are offline, and efforts are being made around the clock to get these power plants back online as soon as possible," he added.

Iran's Ministry of Energy has cited rising temperatures, drought, and declining water reserves behind dams as the main causes of blackouts. However, the aging electricity distribution network and "cryptocurrency mining" in Iran are other factors that increase consumption, increasing the demand from the electricity network.

According to Ministry of Energy officials, the aging network results in the loss of about ten percent of Iran's electricity generation capacity, and cryptocurrency mining demands around "half of Tehran's electricity consumption" from the electricity grid.

In fact, the real capacity of Iran's electricity generation is 62,000 MW, of which 12,000 MW is related to hydropower plants. Due to the drought, the country's hydropower plants are operating at half capacity. In reality, the country's electricity generation capacity is 56,000 MW, not the 85,000 MW that Iranian officials and Ministry of Energy statistics claim.

"If planned restrictions are not applied, there is a very high probability we will be facing widespread blackouts, which would be a disaster. In these very hot days, the people of Khuzestan province are experiencing a series of blackouts that are not desirable for the people," said Qumars Zamani, spokesman for the Southwest Electricity Industry, according to the state-run ISNA news agency, on July 6.

“Temperatures of 50 degrees and above are not tolerable, and blackouts in such circumstances have an people’s lives. Currently, conditions at our hydropower plants have reached a point where they have lost 75 percent of their reserves. Wider blackouts may occur if this issue is not managed,” Zamani added.

Last year, Iran produced about 343 TWh of electricity, of which about 10 TWh was exported and 287 TWh was consumed domestically, with the domestic sector accounting for only 32 percent (93 TWh). A small portion of the country's electricity was consumed in the power plants themselves, and the rest was wasted in the transmission and distribution network.

According to the plan for the past ten years, Iran should have invested $2 billion annually in modernizing its electricity network. However, it has not done so and now the country is suffering $4 billion in electricity losses each year.

The huge investment made in the regime's nuclear initiatives has not provided even the slightest benefit for Iranian people. In fact, it has caused hundreds of billions of dollars in damages to Iran's economy. In 2015, the U.S. Treasury Department estimated the amount of these losses at $500 billion.

In 2013, the Carnegie Institution estimated the damage caused by the regime’s nuclear initiatives, especially in reducing oil revenues and foreign investments, stands at around $100 billion.

This was an assessment of the damages prior to the nuclear deal in 2015. In a report in December 2016 (after the JCPOA’s implementation), the Donya-e-Eqtesad daily wrote that the cost of sanctions resulting from Iran's nuclear program was $400 billion.

For example, the exact cost of the 1,000 MW Bushehr nuclear power plant, located where three tectonic plates collide, with a 1.2 percent share in the country's electricity supply, has never been made public. However, Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the regime’s Atomic Energy Organization, in February 2016 announced that the cost of the Bushehr power plant was five billion dollars. The Carnegie Institution has estimated the cost of the project at $11 billion, citing changes in exchange rates over the years.

The cost of Iran's nuclear activities is as ambiguous as its background. The discrepancies and differences between the figures and statistics announced by regime officials are so great that sometimes the difference in figures reaches several billion dollars.

Mohammad Saeedi, a former deputy head of the regime’s Atomic Energy Organization,  estimated the cost of Iran's nuclear program at less than $2 billion.

The construction of this power plant has taken about 36 years and its second and third phases have not been put into operation yet.

On June 30, the UAE announced that it has launched its 1,177-MW Noor Abu Dhabi solar power plant. This is the world's largest solar power plant and was built in two years at a cost of $870 million.

The official website of the UAE National Water and Electricity Company announced that the power plant has been commissioned with the installation of 3.2 million solar panels in eight square kilometers of land.

“Blackouts are linked to many other issues. Workers' strikes or drought in the deprived areas of Sistan and Baluchestan province, along with the Covid-19 outbreak. All the while, some are attempting to lay the blame on our enemies. They don’t want to hear about some issues. I wish their ears would be washed before it was too late, and before the ‘flood’ arrives to awaken some people form their sleep,” according to a July 6th article published in the state-run Arman daily.

In the past four decades, the mullahs have only managed to maintain their hold on power through violence and deceit. There is no question that the regime lacks the capacity to contain the explosive state of the society. The real question is, when will the next nationwide uprising take place.