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Iraq wants to spend $100bn in turning its economy green

Iraq is committing to sustainable green investments potentially worth $100bn
Iraq is committing to sustainable green investments potentially worth $100bn

Nizar Amedi, Iraq's Minister of Environment, announced on October 26 the country's commitment to sustainable green economy investments, eyeing a transformative value of up to $100bn by 2035.

The move signals Iraq's first announcement to pivot towards this sustainable economic model and attract foreign investments. Iraq, with its geographical positioning in the Middle East, is endowed with a sizeable solar energy potential. On average, Iraq experiences about 8 to 10 hours of sunshine per day, which translates to approximately 3,000 to 3,650 hours of sunlight annually. The country's high solar irradiance and long sunlight hours are valuable assets in the shift towards sustainable energy solutions.

Speaking at an Arab ministerial meeting, Amedi emphasised the importance of consolidating national and international efforts in developing green technology in the region.

He urged for joint co-ordination and adequate funding from both international and national funds.

The aim is to ensure the top-tier execution of the ministry’s strategic environmental initiatives, priorities, and planned projects while combating the impacts of climate change.

The Iraqi government has prioritised environmental, climate and water-related concerns in its agenda. If successful, Iraq could potentially move away from over-reliance on energy supplies from neighbouring Iran, which it has historically had to import over the past decade.

Amedi said that the ministry has completed a new environmental strategy spanning from 2023 to 2030. The national strategy seeks to enhance the environment, acknowledging regional challenges caused by climate impacts and water scarcity.

Amedi added, “There's a growing emphasis on a gradual shift to a green economy that complements Iraq's current fossil fuel-based economy.”

Amedi said that the ministry is spearheading the green economy initiative.

On the new green drive, Amedi added that Iraq is open to investments in its green technology sphere, with a transformative goal of reaching $100mn by 2030 and 2035.

He added that a portion of the national budget has been allocated to support this direction, including encouraging the adoption of a $1bn project to stimulate comprehensive environmental improvement and boost the green economy in the country.

In March 2023, for the first time in Iraq, Iraqi Oil Minister Hayan Abdulghani said a solar energy project with a capacity of 1,000 MW was set to be contracted. He described the project as "large and exemplary", and an example of using renewable energy.

Abdulghani also said that the ministry is working on several projects, including a project to invest 200mn cubic feet (5.7mn cubic metres) of gas in Nasiriyah, and a project to invest 300 mmcf (8.5 mcm) in Maysan, one of the most promising projects. Power stations that depend on this gas will be installed.

Earlier in 2022, Norwegian energy firm Scatec pulled out negotiations to develop two solar projects in Iraq, saying that the Iraqi government bureaucracy was to blame.

Senior Iraqi government officials and Scatec confirmed that the Oslo-based company had withdrawn from negotiations with Iraq’s Electricity Ministry over plans to build and operate two solar power farms with a combined power generation capacity of 525 MW in southern Iraq.

"The main reason [for Scatec’s withdrawal] was the procedures going slowly," said a senior Oil Ministry official with knowledge of Iraq’s solar power projects.

"The Electricity Ministry was not specific, and the solar legislation was unclear. So with the delays and slow procedures, they withdrew.... These solar projects are kind of new in nature for the government, so time is needed for the legislation."