Hydrocarbon Exports Funding Iraq’s Solar Energy Boom

National Economy

The West Asian country of the Republic of Iraq is bordered by the Persian Gulf, Turkey, Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Syria. The population of Iraq is approximately 42.80 million people[1].

In 2022, Iraq’s economy was ranked 52nd in the world in gross domestic product (GDP)[2]. The country’s economy is dependent on the export[3] of crude oil, refined petroleum, gold, petroleum coke, and natural gas.

Environmental Policies

In 2017, Iraq signed the Paris Climate Agreement[4], but didn’t ratify the agreement until January 2021[5]. Iraq has now committed to a 1% to 2% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, compared to 2021 levels.

Power Generation Capabilities

In 2020, 100% of the people in Iraq had access to electricity[6]. In 2021, Iraq’s power companies used natural gas (77.7%), oil (16.9%), and renewable energy (5.4%) to generate electricity in the country[7]. Hydropower and solar are the dominant types of renewable energy used to generate electricity in Iraq.

Recent renewable energy projects in Iraq include:

  • 2,000 MW Solar Projects – United Arab Emirates renewable energy company, Masdar is continuing work building multiple utility scale photovoltaic power projects in central and southern Iraq.
  • 2,000 MW Solar Project – People’s Republic of China company, POWERCHINA is continuing work on a utility scale photovoltaic power project in the nation’s capital, Bagdad. The project is forecast to be commissioned by year-end 2025.
  • 1,000 MW Solar Projects – French energy company, Total is continuing work building utility scale photovoltaic power projects in the governorates of Babylon, Karbala, Muthanna, Wasit, and Diwaniya.


The first major oil discovery in Iraq was the Kirkuk Field in 1923[8]. In 2021, Iraq was the 4th largest crude oil[9] exporting country in the world.

The export of hydrocarbons is the cornerstone of Iraq’s economy. In 2021, Iraq exported U.S. $72 Billion in crude oil, U.S. $5.49 Billion in refined petroleum, U.S. 542 Million in petroleum coke, and U.S. $157 Million in natural gas.

On 24 February 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine, prompting the European Union, United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand to place economic sanctions on Russian imports and exports. As a result, the crude oil and natural gas prices increased by over 50% from May 2021 to May 2022.

Iraq has significant undeveloped renewable energy resources, including solar, onshore wind, hydropower, offshore wind, and biomass. The government’s goal is to replace oil and natural gas fueled power plants with utility scale solar power plants.

The rise in global oil and natural gas prices has provided Iraq with funding to escalate the development of new solar projects across the nation. Hydrocarbon exports are now funding Iraq’s solar energy boom.


Jack Kerfoot

Website – “Our Energy Conundrum”

www.jack kerfoot.com


Jack Kerfoot is a scientist, energy expert, and author of the book FUELING AMERICA, An Insider’s Journey and articles for The Hill, one of the largest independent political news sites in the United States. He has been interviewed on over 100 radio, podcast, and television stations from New York City to Los Angeles on numerous energy related topics

[1] Iraq Population (2023) –  May 15, 2023, www.worldometers.info

[2] Gross Domestic Product By Country 2022 – Worldometer

[3] The Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC) – Iraq

[4] Carbon Brief – “2015: Tracking Country Climate Pledges”

[5] Iraq Approves Paris Climate Accord In Step Toward Curtailing Oil Dependence by Al-Monitor, January 20, 2021.

[6] World Bank, “Access To Electricity (% Population) – Iraq”

[7] Our World In Data, Iraq: Energy Country Profile by Hanna Ritchie and Max Roser

[8] Iraq and Oil, The View From The Mountain

[9] Crude Oil Exports By Country 2021 by Daniel Workman

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