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Iran has a renewable-energy programme

Unbeknown to most lay people and many energy insiders, Iran has more going on in the energy industry than nuclear controversy. Given the global location of Iran provides it with some of the world’s highest solar insolation, there is actually solar research occurring. Much of the research involved concentrating solar-power technologies and the Iranian scientists were working to ensure that Iran had the domestic expertise to design and install solar CSP systems.

To support much of this solar research, Iran has a government-sponsored Renewable Energy Organization of Iran (SUNA) that is part of the Ministry of Energy. The objective of this organization is to develop applications for renewable energy. The staff includes 300 persons with 150 of those engineers and scientists. The budget is approximately $60 m. Iran even has a feed-in tariff for wind and biomass energy of approximately 13 cents/kWh. Additionally, Iran has a renewable-portfolio standard to meet 10% of its electricity from non-hydro renewable-electricity technologies.

I had the privilege of learning of some of these details while joining a workshop this November between Iranian and US energy and solar-energy scientists and engineers. Joining the Iranians was the head of their National Academy. This workshop was arranged by the US State Department with assistance of the US National Academies. As the US and Iranian governments are officially not on speaking terms, it is nice to know that some parts of the governments are finding ways to keep some communication channels open. Sharing ideas on solar- and renewable-energy technologies may help us find a way to share ideas and shed light on renewing cordial relations. Kudos to the US State Department for finding ways to have international relations using science.

About Carey King

Dr. Carey W King performs interdisciplinary research related to how energy systems interact within the economy and environment as well as how our policy and social systems can make decisions and tradeoffs among these often competing factors. The past performance of our energy systems is no guarantee of future returns, yet we must understand the development of past energy systems. Carey’s research goals center on rigorous interpretations of the past to determine the most probable future energy pathways. Carey is a Research Scientist and Assistant Director at the Energy Institute at The University of Texas at Austin, and appointed also at the the Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy within the Jackson School of Geosciences and Business, Government, and Society Department of the McCombs School of Business. Visit his website at: and follow on Twitter @CareyWKing
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