TEHRAN, May 9 (UPI) -- Tehran announced it set aside an estimated $650 million from a national development fund to help finance renewable energy projects.
A national development fund established by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad designates 20 percent of the country's oil and natural gas revenue for social investments such as renewable energy, the semiofficial Mehr News Agency reports.
Deputy Energy Minister Mohammad Behzad said the $650 million would be doled out to small developers in the form of loans.
"Over 10,000 megawatts should be added to the generation capacity of hydroelectric and thermal power plants by August 2013," he was quoted as saying.
Economic sanctions targeting Iranian banks are inhibiting oil and natural gas sales. The Iranian report, however, notes the development fund is worth about $35 billion.
Yousef Armodeli, managing director of the Renewable Energy Organization of Iran, said the country is on the cusp of commissioning its first geothermal power plant. The pilot project could generate as much as 5 megawatts of power, he said.
Tehran said it expects to export as much as 10 billion kilowatt hours of electricity to its neighbors during the current calendar year, which began March 20.