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Rooftop Solar Takes Hold in Iraq in the Aftermath of ISIS

Home and shop owners in Iraq are installing solar arrays to smooth power outages

3 min read
Photo: Peter Fairley
Power Up: This shop is one of a growing number of small businesses in Iraq that now focus on renewable energy installations.
Photo: Peter Fairley

The souk, or marketplace, keeps buzzing in Sulaimani, a provincial capital in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region, even though the national power grid has just gone off-line. Merchants like Mohamad Romie emerge from shops to fire up their generators or switch over to commercial backup power suppliers.

This switch to local power is a more-than-daily ritual across Iraq, thanks to a stubborn electricity supply gap that hinders Iraq’s development. Renewable power installations could shrink that gap—be they rooftop photovoltaics like those Mohamad and his brother Ali are installing through their company, Romie Electric, or utility-scale wind and solar plants. Rooftop power is already beginning to bridge gaps in Iraq’s grid supply, while large utility projects must still gain domestic support and international investment.

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This photograph shows a car with the words “We Drive Solar” on the door, connected to a charging station. A windmill can be seen in the background.

The Dutch city of Utrecht is embracing vehicle-to-grid technology, an example of which is shown here—an EV connected to a bidirectional charger. The historic Rijn en Zon windmill provides a fitting background for this scene.

We Drive Solar

Hundreds of charging stations for electric vehicles dot Utrecht’s urban landscape in the Netherlands like little electric mushrooms. Unlike those you may have grown accustomed to seeing, many of these stations don’t just charge electric cars—they can also send power from vehicle batteries to the local utility grid for use by homes and businesses.

Debates over the feasibility and value of such vehicle-to-grid technology go back decades. Those arguments are not yet settled. But big automakers like Volkswagen, Nissan, and Hyundai have moved to produce the kinds of cars that can use such bidirectional chargers—alongside similar vehicle-to-home technology, whereby your car can power your house, say, during a blackout, as promoted by Ford with its new F-150 Lightning. Given the rapid uptake of electric vehicles, many people are thinking hard about how to make the best use of all that rolling battery power.

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