Iran has the capability to set up a 100 per cent renewable energy system for the country by 2030 by investing around $187 billion, according to a study released by a Finnish university.
According to the Lappeenranta University of Technology, the country would need to develop about 49 gigawatts (GW) of solar power, 77 GW of wind energy and 21 GW of hydropower to achieve a zero-emissions grid, said a source.
Iran is heavily dependent on natural gas and oil to generate power and is one of the most energy-intensive countries in the world since state subsidies for fossil fuels encourage inefficient energy use.
Per capita energy consumption in Iran is 10 times greater than in Europe, according to the study.
The university published the research at the 11th International Energy Conference in Tehran, it said.
Water shortage and air pollution, however, is becoming an acute problem for the country of more than 80 million people, forcing officials to embrace the idea of expanding renewable energy capacity.
Existing wind and solar capacity is tiny. According to Renewable Energy Organization of Iran (SUNA), the renewable energy organisation of Iran, there are only 15 wind farms in the country.
Iran is seeking 5,000 MW of renewable energy by 2020, with more than 4,000 MW expected to come from wind power. The country has approximately 141 MW of installed wind power.
The Finnish researchers found that wind and solar power is the most economical clean energy option — 50 to 60 per cent less costly than new nuclear capacity or fossil fuel-based power with carbon capture.
A green grid could also make water desalinisation cost-effective in the face of water scarcity which is becoming a serious problem and affecting almost all Iranian provinces, added the report.