Solar panels in desert

Power-starved Iraq on Thursday signed a deal with a Norwegian-led consortium to build two solar power plants, officials said, a day after inking a similar agreement with the UAE.

War-scarred Iraq is the second-largest producer in the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), but the country faces a severe energy crisis and chronic power cuts that feed social discontent.

Thursday’s agreement with the consortium led by Scatec is for the construction of two solar plants south of Baghdad with a total capacity of 525 megawatts (MW), the oil ministry said.

The project will cost around $500 million, with one plant to be built in Karbala and the other in Babel, it said.

“It is a step towards the development of durable energy,” Oil Minister Ihssan Ismail told a news conference.