Iraqi olive farmers look to the solar to energy their manufacturing

A employee cleans photo voltaic panels, that are one of many sustainable vitality choices that assist olive farmers, in Mosul, Iraq February 2, 2022. Image taken February 2, 2022. Reuters/Khalid al-Mousily

Fadhiliya, Iraq: Amongst olive groves that have been as soon as a entrance line between Islamic State militants and Iraqi forces, Yunis Salman and some fellow farmers are harnessing what they imagine must be the way forward for Center East agriculture: the ability of the solar.

Photo voltaic panels put in final yr between his household’s 1,500 olive bushes assist to energy water pumping and irrigation, offering sufficient for manufacturing and several other hours of electrical energy every day for his or her dwelling.

The photo voltaic vitality has changed the a number of barrels of gasoline oil a day that they used to devour, Salman mentioned.

“My brother Omar bought the thought after researching inexperienced vitality on-line,” Salman mentioned on the farm close to the northern Iraqi village of Fadhiliya, outdoors Mosul. “He thought this was excellent for Iraq, the place we get a lot solar.”

Omar Salman purchased photo voltaic panels for $12,000 after which appealed to the United Nations Improvement Programme, which has funded and expanded the challenge, he mentioned.

Salman believes solar energy must be the way forward for agriculture and vitality within the Center East, the place stifling summers are getting longer and warmer.

“We undergo each summer time, so why not no less than use it?” Salman mentioned.

In Iraq, a dilapidated nationwide grid typically supplies just a few hours of energy every day, leaving many Iraqis to swelter via temperatures that usually surpass 50 levels Celsius.

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Iraq is attempting to get well from many years of battle, worldwide sanctions and mismanagement. A number of the most devastating preventing occurred within the battle to defeat Islamic State militants, who took over round a 3rd of the nation in 2014.

Combating round Mosul in 2016-2017 destroyed huge quantities infrastructure, together with on this wealthy agricultural space the place buildings have been flattened by air strikes.

Potential Answer 

Iraq, one of many world’s largest oil producers, depends on crude oil exports for round 95 p.c of state income. It’s attempting to enhance the seize of fuel launched throughout oil manufacturing to grow to be extra vitality self-sufficient, however with restricted success.

Fuel imports from Iran gasoline the nationwide grid and periodically halt when vitality consumption will increase. Baghdad owes Tehran billions of {dollars} for energy imports, and underneath U.S. sanctions should at the moment pay these money owed in meals and medication provides.

Solar energy, Salman believes, might assist resolve all these issues for Iraq. At little price past the preliminary photo voltaic panels set-up, his farm produces some 40 tonnes of olives a yr. A number of the produce is offered in Turkey and the Gulf.

The one draw back, Salman says, is the preliminary price.

“Most odd Iraqis could not afford to spend such a lump sum. It ought to come from the state.”

Iraq has signed a number of offers for solar energy vegetation, together with with corporations from United Arab Emirates, Norway, France and China.

The Iraqi authorities didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark.

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Progress on increasing sustainable vitality has been gradual to date, however worldwide assist officers hope tasks like this one may also help to vary attitudes, particularly in official circles.

“Many years of battle and legacies of previous environmental insurance policies imply Iraq’s transition to renewable vitality sources won’t occur in a single day,” mentioned the UNDP’s Iraq consultant Zena Ali Ahmad.

“Photo voltaic vitality for agriculture is a comparatively new idea in Iraq, so whereas it did take the authorities somewhat convincing, what we at the moment are witnessing is a gradual tradition shift, and a higher acceptance towards transitioning into clear, renewable vitality sources,” she mentioned.