Wind turbines in Iran's Gilan Province, August 2013.
Michelle Moghtader / REUTERS

After years of exclusion from the global financial system, Iran is pushing foreign firms to invest in its massive oil and gas holdings. But there’s another part of Iran’s energy economy that’s opening up: its renewables sector.

Iran has good reasons to develop its hydroelectric, solar, and wind resources—from popular concerns about air pollution to fluctuating oil prices—and since the completion of the nuclear deal in 2015, it has made some progress in doing so. The trouble is that there are also a number of serious barriers to further growth. Foreign companies, worried about the threat of sanctions, are still reluctant to do business in Iran, and problems in Iran’s electricity market are stifling new projects. Only by addressing those problems can Iran grow its green economy. 


Iran doesn’t seem like an obvious candidate for green energy investment: the country has the second-largest reserves

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  • EMILY BURLINGHAUS is a Research Assistant at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy’s Iran Security Initiative.
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