Powering Up with PV: An Interview with Martin Healy

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In October 2012, the Iraqi government announced plans for 400 MW of solar in Iraq at a cost of $1.6 billion, inviting a range of international companies to submit studies. One justification for this, aside from the obviously high solar irradiance that Iraq receives, was that the power plants would not require fuel, which would gradually offset the initial investment cost from the government.
This plan never gained momentum, but Iraq is now re-visiting this unexploited potential. Iraq’s 2018 Reconstruction and Development Framework envisioned over 400 MW over seven installations and while there are still obstacles to achieving this target (touched upon here) circumstances are much more favourable due to the rapid cost reduction in solar power since 2012.  
We asked energy expert and 2018 Iraq Energy Forum speaker Martin Healy to discuss some of the challenges and opportunities facing solar power in Iraq, with a particular emphasis on its range of applications across the region and how these might be applied in Iraq. 
IEI: When we talk about solar power as a solution for countries with high solar irradiation, high energy intensity due to AC demand and growing per capita income, it’s often simply discussed as “solar energy.” But that encapsulates an array of options for a country like Iraq and every arid country faces different choices when it comes to maximizing solar’s potential, ranging from combined cycle plants to concentrated solar power and using solar for enhanced oil recovery. Can you explain more?
MH: Yes, you’re exactly right. Iraq gets an enormous amount of sunlight, with high solar irradiation – or power per unit area received from the sun – and over 3,000 hours of bright sunshine per year.  Solar power should be considered one of Iraq’s greatest national resources and harnessed to…

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