Are the 'Winds of Change' Coming to Iran?
It is a little known fact that Iran, a country which according to the US Energy Information Administration has the 3rd largest oil reserve and the 2nd largest natural gas reserve in the world, is actively pursuing renewable energy sources. Blessed with some of the best wind and solar resources in the Middle East, Iran hopes to gain economic and political leverage by harnessing these natural resources while preserving their fossil fuel commodities for future export. It's a win-win for everyone. Iran can power its own development without the highly troubling political implications of an expanded nuclear program, and it gets to maintain its strategic oil reserves.
But there is a problem. US and EU sanctions prevent technology companies from making any investments in Iran whatsoever, even investments which would support the decommissioning of its nuclear program by providing viable and quick-to-market alternatives. Fines are heavy -- upwards of 1 million dollars. The Danish wind power company Vestas was recently forced to pull out of a 15 year contract with Iranian wind farm Saba Niroo, due to heavy political pressures.
As Nader Niktabe, director of Saba Niroo said, "It's ironic that the West is so vehemently opposed to Iran's efforts to develop nuclear energy (while) it is sabotaging our efforts to develop clean energy sources like wind." The Saba Niroo wind project is now dead, with 50 huge, 70 foot long wind blades lying idle in its warehouse yard. The company may go bankrupt in six months if it is unable to complete and sell the wind turbines.