China says it is planning joint projects with Iran on solar and wind energy.
This news is potentially very important. I once took a 24-hour bus trip through the Great Salt Desert (Dasht-i Kavir) from Tehran to Zahedan, and I guarantee you there is lots of space there for solar panels, and lots of sunlight will hit them once placed there. China is a world leader in the manufacture of photovoltaic cells and likewise a leader in moving to wind energy.
As for wind energy, not every region or country is well placed to exploit this resource. The US deep south, for instance, is not well suited to wind energy, while Iowa already gets about 20 percent of its electricity from wind.
But in this regard, Iran hit the jackpot. The Global Wind Energy Council writes,
“Despite boasting some of the best wind resources in the region, Iran’s wind energy market has not yet realized its potential. The mountainous landscape of Iran holds unique wind corridors, and preliminary studies have shown an estimated practical wind power potential of at least 6,500 MW, according to the Iran Renewable Energy Organisation (SUNA)1, an executive arm of the Ministry of Power. Iran’s best wind resources are located in the mountainous part of the country, along the Alborz and Zagros mountain chain…”
Obviously, Iran should move rapidly toward wind and solar energy and give up on its nuclear program.
After the disaster at Fukushima, it seems obvious that you shouldn’t build nuclear reactors in highly seismic areas, and Iran is prone to earthquakes. Germany has turned against nuclear plants, and I doubt any new ones will ever be built in Japan. Nuclear reactors produce very dangerous waste, and there is no good solution to storing it.
Iran could, ironically enough, use its petroleum and natural gas profits to create a green-energy infrastructure.
Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei gave a fatwa against nuclear weapons. He said the only reason Iran has a civilian nuclear enrichment program is that the country will need new sources of power as the population grows and moves to the cities. Iran is in danger over time of using all its petroleum itself, leaving nothing for export, and potentially impoverishing the country. New ways to generate electricity will preserve Iran’s hydrocarbon riches not only for transportation fuel (something I hope is quickly phased out) for purposes such as fertilizer, plastics and petrochemicals, which are lucrative exports.
If Iran can become energy-independent through China-assisted alternative energy projects, then Khamenei’s rationale for a civilian nuclear enrichment program becomes null and void. Iran won’t need reactors, and won’t need fuel for reactors. Wind and solar are far more reliable as a path to energy independence than reactors. Who could bomb all of Iowa’s wind turbines?
By moving to alternative energy and mothbolling the nuclear program, Iran could get international sanctions lifted and begin developing its potential as a full member of the international community. If Portugal can get 45% of its electricity from alternative energy, so can Iran.
Green is the color of the family of the Prophet Muhammad, and its very sacredness and nobility should endow it with positive connotations.