A Norwegian solar company has defied US President Donald Trump’s call for further isolation of Iran by signing a deal to invest €2.5 billion ($4 billion) in the country over the next five years.
Norway’s Saga Energy signed the deal with Iran’s Amin Energy Developers to install two gigawatts of solar panels in multiple sites around the central desert region.
The contract was signed at the residence of Norwegian Ambassador to Tehran Lars Nordrum.
“Norway is fully committed to the JCPOA (nuclear deal) and this is proof that we have taken the opening very seriously, and we will see more investment very soon,” Nordrum told AFP.
It comes just days after Trump gave a bellicose speech, imposing further sanctions on Iran and calling for European allies to curb their financial dealings with the country.
The new solar project is being financed by a consortium of European private and state investors, and backed by a sovereign guarantee from the government of Iran.
“We hope to build a factory in Iran to build the panels so that we are also generating jobs,” said Saga’s development manager Gaute Steinkopf at the signing.
“I’d like to thank Norway, which has always been one of the best friends to Iran, for this exciting opportunity,” said Saeid Zakeri, head of international affairs for Amin.
The deal was signed less than a month after UK renewables investor Quercus inked a deal worth over half a billion euros to build and operate another 600-megawatt (MW) solar farm in Iran
The work located in central Iran is expected to take three years, with the project coming online in 100 MW phases every six months, Quercus said of its first project outside Europe.
“As Iran opens for business, we are delighted to be taking a leading role in building the country’s renewable energy infrastructure at such an early stage of its development,” Quercus CEO Diego Biasi said in mid-September.
Iran currently has 63 MW of installed solar capacity, chiefly in the cities of Yazd, Kerman, Isfahan and Hamadan. This figure is meager for a country with over 300 sunny days and an average of 2,800 hours of sunshine.
There is an ambitious plan to expand the renewable capacity in the face of an acute air pollution problem in major cities and towns. Iran’s overall power capacity stands at 77,000 megawatts, which is mostly generated in thermal power plants using fossil fuel.
Before Quercus’s deal in September, contracts for about 950 MW of renewable energy projects had also been signed.
They are part of the plan to add 1000 MW of renewable energy to the national grid each year in the next five years but the ultimate goal is to establish a 26,000 MW renewable capacity with $60 billion of investment.