Iraq's Energy Sector

A roadmap to a brighter future

“In addition to oil, Iraq is blessed with some of the richest solar and gas resources in the world, but it is yet to take advantage of them. Turning that potential into fuel for its own economy and for export would help bring about a more sustainable, reliable and affordable energy future.”
Dr Fatih Birol, Executive Director, IEA


Despite the extraordinary challenges of war in recent years, Iraq has made impressive gains, nearly doubling the country’s oil production over the past decade. But the turmoil has also undermined the country’s ability to maintain and invest in its power infrastructure. This report maps out immediate practical actions and medium-term measures to tackle the most pressing problems in Iraq’s electricity sector. It also takes a detailed look at the country’s oil and gas sector, projecting that Iraq’s oil production will grow by 1.3 million barrels a day by 2030, becoming the world’s fourth-largest oil producer behind the United States, Saudi Arabia and Russia.

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Key findings


	Production growth to 2030	Production growth to 2030
United States	3.39	
Brazil	1.48	
Iraq		1.28
Canada	0.60	
Saudi Arabia	0.55	

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	Flared volume	Associated gas brought to market
2000	7	0
2005	7	0
2010	9	0
2015	15.1	4.5
2018	16.8	11.5
	0	0
2020	14.2	15.5
2025	12.1	29.3
2030	8.1	39.6
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Iraq’s power sector faces significant challenges


Power outages in Iraq remain a daily occurrence for most households, as increasing generating capacity has been outrun by the increasing demand for electricity, spurred by greater cooling needs in the peak summer months. Over the past five years, the size of the gap between peak electricity demand and maximum grid supply of power has expanded, despite available supply increasing by one-third.

	Peak demand	Maximum grid supply
2014	18.653	12.32
2015	21.221	13.4
2016	24.02	14.355
2017	25.581	15.025
2018	27.346	16.4
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Alleviating the power shortages at the height of summer remains one of the most important priorities of the Iraqi government. Here, there is room for cautious optimism, as a number of options are available to help remedy the immediate shortfalls.

For example, consumers should be encouraged to shift non-essential demand away from peak hours, enabling more households to have cooling during the hottest parts of the day.

Improving networks could also provide immediate gains. This would involve identifying the weakest parts of the grid, and concentrating efforts on improving the state of the distribution network. The losses in the Iraqi system are around 40 TWh, four times the total neighbourhood generation in Iraq – addressing this could boost supply quickly.

There are also options with increase available capacity by increasing the number of small generators and larger mobile generators (both oil-based) that can be put in place quickly and can help alleviate the most intense shorages.

	blank	range
Expand transmission	4	6
Upgrade T&D networks	2	4
Utility gas CCGT	2	2
Wind power	1.5	1.5
Utility solar PV	1.2	1.5
Utility oil/gas turbine	1	1
Refurbish generators	0.5	1
Rooftop solar PV	0.3	0.7
Mobile power units	0.1	0.5
Raising HFO use	0.1	0.6
Small oil generators	0	0.3
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There are a number of pathways available for the future of electricity supply in Iraq but the most affordable, reliable and sustainable path requires cutting network losses by half at least, strengthening regional interconnections, putting captured gas to use in efficient power plants, and increasing the share of renewables in the mix. In the long term, all options are available to improve the situation in the power sector.

Where measures are taken to both curb demand and increase available capacity, Iraq could establish a capacity margin by 2030 (where available capacity exceeds peak demand). At that point, grid supply would be available to most consumers 24 hours per day.

	Peak demand unchecked	Peak demand with incentives	2018 available capacity	Raise availability of existing capacity	New capacity	Improved networks
2018	27.346	27.346	16.65	0	0	0
2019	32.1	32.1	16.65	0.12	2.44	0.59
2020	35.6	34.7	16.65	0.37	5.71	1.13
2021	39.4	37.8	16.65	0.74	9.21	1.75
2022	43.2	40.3	16.65	1.25	12.64	2.73
2023	46.9	42.5	16.65	1.91	15.81	4.18
2024	50.1	44	16.65	2.73	16.72	5.39
2025	53.4	45.3	16.65	3.72	17.83	6.87
2026	56.5	46.4	16.65	4.91	18.94	8.14
2027	59.5	47.6	16.65	6.02	20	9.01
2028	62.5	49	16.65	7.03	21.06	9.63
2029	64.9	50.1	16.65	7.93	21.39	9.49
2030	67.8	51.7	16.65	8.7	22.15	9.5
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