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Alstom to Power-Up Power-Hungry Iraq

French power firm Alstom just signed a deal to rebuild and regenerate the electricity infrastructure in Iraq, decimated since the war.

alsthom-iraq

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Electricity is one of the staples of modern life that it’s easy to forget, but you miss horribly when it’s gone: And the people of Iraq have been feeling this recently as the electricity supply infrastructure has been decimated by neglect and fighting.

Demand for electricity has also been growing as Iraq rebuilds itself after decades of war, and this is straining the already damaged supply–the situation was so bad back in 2005 that on average the nation only received nine to 15 hours of power per day. The supply reliability is better in the north of the country, and the new contract that Alstom has just signed with the Iraqi government will try to redress the balance–a new power station for the south is now on the cards. This will cost somewhere between $1.5 billion and $2 billion, and result in a power output of 1.2 gigawatts ready to supply Najaf, the port city Basra and other towns in the south. 

In addition to the new power station, a 180-megawatt plant in Najaf will be “re-established” and Iraqi engineers and technicians will get training to keep the performance of the electrical grid up to standard when the French experts depart. 

All of this will take several years to swing into action, and while it’s fabulous news for Iraq, and Alstom’s investors, there’s one aspect that some watchers will be concerned about: What kind of power stations are we talking about here? The obvious, eco-disastrous type, is one that uses locally-sourced fuel, and has a huge carbon footprint. Yup–this may be all about the oil, again.

Image via Kit Eaton, on Twitter.

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I'm covering the science/tech/generally-exciting-and-innovative beat for Fast Company. Follow me on Twitter, or Google+ and you'll hear tons of interesting stuff, I promise. I've also got a PhD, and worked in such roles as professional scientist and theater technician...thankfully avoiding jobs like bodyguard and chicken shed-cleaner (bonus points if you get that reference!)

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