High altitude solar plant on "roof of Iran" pays off for cement company

Image: Supplied, Fronius

The building and sourcing of cheaper and more reliable renewable energy by major industrials like Sun Metals in Queensland is a phenomenon that is playing out all across the globe – including at 2,300 metres above sea level in the upper reaches of Iran.
Austrian inverter giant Fronius said last week that it been part of a unique project to develop a 1.5MW smart solar system for a cement manufacturer in city of Shahrekord, also known as the “Roof of Iran”.
As well as being at an extremely high altitude – it is the highest altitude solar plant in Iran – the site is prone to hot summers and cold winters, with ambient temperatures ranging from minus 10°C and more than 50°C.
But despite all this – and using Fronius technology that is proven to perform well in temperatures ranging from -40°C to 60C° – the cement manufacturer’s system is generating 2,953MWh a year, which it feeds back to the grid.
It does this, rather than consuming the solar power directly, because of generous, long-term feed-in tariffs offered by the government. These mean that the €1.2 million system is providing the Shahrekord Cement Company with revenue of €340,000 a year.
Image: Supplied, Fronius

“The situation regarding solar energy plants is very positive in Iran right now,” says Fronius. “The country’s government is supporting the construction of photovoltaic systems with a generous, long-term feed-in tariff.”
To date, in Iran, the company says it has supplied its inverters for hundreds of 5-20kW systems, a few 100kW systems and a 1.2MW system, as well as the Shahrekord plant.
Elsewhere in the country, state-owned news agency IRNA reported earlier this month that the government was planning to develop a 1.5GW solar project along the Tehran-Qom Highway that runs through the nation’s centre, in an effort to help strengthen the grid.
In the report, state-owned utility Qom Province Electricity Distribution Company said it was open to signing 20-year power purchase agreements (PPAs) with residents who installed rooftop solar.
In large-scale solar, the country has recently completed a fifth 7MW project in Hamedan Province, PV Tech reports.
And UK firm Quercus has also revelaed plans to build a 600MW solar plant in Iran as part of an agreement with the country’s government.
Iran’s deputy energy minister and head of the Renewable Energy and Energy and Energy Efficiency Organization of Iran (SATBA) Dr Seyed Mohammad Sadeghzadeh has pinpointed solar as a key part of the country energy future, as prices of the technology continue to fall.
Dr Sadeghzadeh said driving Iran’s own solar prices down and increasing installations to more than 1GW of additional capacity a year would be necessary for Iran’s energy transition, but – as in other countries – this faced challenges in the form of licensing and grid connection.

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