The role of hydropower in Iran and a comparison with the rest of the world
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The subject of energy is currently a hot topic in Iran as can be observed in the world media. Iran is a relatively dry country with an average annual rainfall considerably less than the world average. It does, nonetheless, have a mountainous topology with numerous rivers flowing off these mountains in which dams currently exist or have the potential to be installed. It is currently the case, however, that not all the water behind the dams is being harnessed for hydropower generation. On average over the past decade, only 7% of the power generated in Iran was through hydropower sources. There are examples of dams in Iran with significant potential for electricity generation, but for which no generation is currently taking place. Some examples are the Nāzlo dam in the province of West Azerbaijan that has the capacity to generate 58 GWh, or a dam on the Kelo River in Khuzestan province that has the capacity to generate 258 GWh of power. One of the main reasons that the actual hydropower capacity in Iran is not being fully utilized is due to the existence of cheap and abundant fossil fuel sources such as natural gas and petroleum. In this paper, the role and potential of hydropower in Iran is initially ascertained, which is then followed by a comparison with the rest of the world in an effort to put the country's current situation into context. Furthermore, guidelines regarding the future development of energy in Iran from a hydropower standpoint are provided.
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