Iran: Athos Solar completed two solar parks with 14 MW – yield of 1,800 kWh/kW
The two solar parks, located in the province of Hamadan near Tehran, have a surface area of ten hectares each with a combined output of 14 MW, making them the first of their scale in Iran. In early February they officially commenced operations, with both German Ambassador Michael Klor-Berchtold and Iranian Energy Minister Hamid Chitchian attending the ceremony.
40,000 solar modules from Canadian Solar
Athos Solar completely financed the investment of around 20 million Euros with equity. The Heidelberg based company only needed nine months after first contact with the Iranian developer to complete both green-field plants – despite the considerable logistical challenges the project entailed. 80 percent of the components, including around 40,000 photovoltaic modules from Canadian Solar had to be imported into Iran.
Custom duties up to 25 percent
“Partly the components had to been transported around 4,500 kilometers by truck from Germany”, Christian Linder, CEO of Athos Solar told pv Europe. Additional costs include significant charges (road toll, red crescent, handling fees, etc.) and customs duties up to 25 percent as well as non-deductible import turnover taxes. Locally manufactured components were electronical parts like electrical wiring or transformers.
High security measures – well trained installers in Iran
Safety measures for the solar park include fencing, video surveillance (CCTV) and additionally 7/24 permanent personal monitoring by a security service. “The electrical installations were built almost entirely by Iranian companies. There are very well trained technicians in Iran”, Linder says. The basic assembly of the substructure as well as the assembly of the modules was taken over by the EPC with its European team. The project company of the two plants is a subsidiary of Athos Solar. The Iranian project developer is involved in this project company as a minority shareholder. All legal and financial services have been provided on the spot. Plant monitoring is performed by Athos Sola and the EPC, who also carries out O&M.
Extreme climate conditions – intensive module cleaning
Intensive module cleaning is indispensable, as the sand is blown on the modules by the strong wind and partly also by rain. “The climatic conditions are extreme. The plants are located at 1,800 meters and the temperatures range between -20 ° C and + 40 ° C. In winter, there may be up to 1 meter of snow, so that the snow loads on the module construction can be very high”, Linder says.
Yield of 1,800 kWh/kW – returns of over 10 percent
Despite the challenging conditions and the higher investment costs Athos Solar is expecting a net profit rate in the lower double-digit rate of the two solar plants. The expected system yield is 1,800 kWh/kW. The power purchase agreement (PPA) runs for 20 years with a feed-in tariff (FIT) remuneration of 4,900 Rial/kwh, that’s currently around 12-13 Eurocents/kwh.
Good cooperation with Iranian authorities
“Construction of large-scale solar-energy plants in Iran only became possible since the spring of 2016, when the sanctions were lifted, meaning our systems are the first of their kind,” explains Linder. “The joint endeavour was initiated by two business partners from Iran and England, who also developed the rights to the project and sold them to the newly founded joint holding. We realised the project together with our trusted partners from Germany, and contracted Iranian providers for both preparatory landscaping work and subsequent electrical work.” The interactions with the Iranian authorities, who were extremely cooperative, proceeded smoothly. “You can sense a great deal of openness and enthusiasm in Iran for this type of energy production,” says Linder.
Completely equity financed – bank financing no option
As an investor, Athos Solar completely financed the roughly 20 million Euros needed to construct the two photovoltaic systems using own equity. As Linder relates, “At the moment, that’s the only way to complete projects in Iran like this one. Bank financing simply isn’t an option; even simple transactions are a day-to-day challenge. In this regard, our advantage is that we have sufficient equity to cover the initial outlay ourselves, which allows us to implement such massive projects, even on a tight schedule.”
Further projects planned
At the same time, the two systems represent Athos Solar’s first projects in the Middle East. The experts from Heidelberg profited from their extensive experience in constructing high-performance plants because the guidelines and standards used – like the environmental certification – match those in Europe. Further projects with yearly around 25 MW are planned in Iran, provided the political situation remains stable, Linder says. (HCN)
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