In an interview with the Strategic Council on Foreign Relations, Afifeh Abedi referred to the holding of a tripartite meeting to connect the power grid of Iran, the Republic of Azerbaijan, and Russia, with the presence of the Deputy Ministers of Energy of the three countries in Moscow as the powers of the electricity of the region, stated that this meeting is in line with the development of regional cooperation of the three countries in the field of energy and was held following the previous agreements to review the progress made in the electricity synchronization plan of the three countries. In recent years, negotiations were held between Iran and Russia for the implementation of the electric connection and synchronization plan (connection and integrated management) of the power grids of the two countries, and considering the connection of the power grid of Iran with the countries of the region, including the Republic of Azerbaijan, these negotiations tripartite and now an Iranian engineering company is following up.
He reminded that the energy ministers of Russia, Iran, and Armenia and the deputy energy minister of Georgia had signed a memorandum of understanding to connect the power grid of the four countries in 2016, and the connection of the power grid of Iran and Russia was targeted by the end of 2017. He noted that in addition, based on the negotiations of 2003 to 2007 between Iran, the Republic of Azerbaijan, and Russia, the 400 kilo-volt line of the Sabalan power plant was built to EMishli (Azerbaijan) to connect the networks of the three countries. In the Republic of Azerbaijan, power transmission lines were also made. Still, due to the lack of construction of the necessary lines between Azerbaijan and Russia, it was impossible to synchronize the three countries’ power grids.
Abedi said Iran and Russia are willing to conclude a comprehensive agreement with other regional countries for electricity grid connection. The issue of electricity exchange between neighboring countries can be analyzed from different dimensions.
This researcher of the Research Center of the State Expediency Council stated that Iran has also put the connection to the Russian electricity grid through Armenia and Georgia on its agenda. She said that in its economic aspect, this action will ensure public welfare and energy security as a commodity. It also becomes strategic and includes reducing environmental pollution and preserving the region’s natural resources. In addition to that, the political and security dimensions of electricity exchange are also significant for the three countries following this link and economic intertwining. Iran’s energy exchange agreement with neighboring countries has both economic benefits and provides many geo-economic advantages due to the implementation of this project.
Abedi explained that energy swap is one of the low-cost and profitable routes for economic cooperation and development of countries, which raises the position of each country to the extent of its centrality in the field of energy. Just as the connection of the electricity networks of these three countries can provide the possibility of electricity transit through Iran to countries like Turkey and Iraq.
She added that connecting the electricity grid to the region’s countries and creating a kind of stability in the grid provides the possibility of offering more needed electricity for the countries at different times of the year. Iran can also keep its power plants active when it needs less electricity and use their maximum capacity. Due to the geographical situation, the peak of electricity consumption in Russia is in winter, and the peak of electricity consumption in Iran is in summer. Connecting the power grids makes it possible to import electricity to Iran in the summer and export electricity in winter.
This analyst of Russian issues, emphasizing the need to strengthen the use of the capacity of the countries in the region, considered the implementation of this memorandum to be effective in strengthening regional security and greater convergence of countries against extra-regional interventions and stated that there are potential capacities for Iran’s cooperation with its neighbors and even surrounding areas. But at the same time, it should be noted that the progress of economic and technical cooperation in the region requires securing the interests of all parties.
According to Abedi, connecting the power grids of Iran, Azerbaijan, and Russia can help reduce political tensions between these countries and prioritize commercial and economic interests.
She added that the big projects and the electrical connection of the countries to each other will help further their political-economic and security interweaving. However, this tripartite plan is still in the initial stages of operationalization, and its progress requires the continuation of tripartite negotiations and cooperation and support for companies that are busy implementing this plan.