Renewable energy in Afghanistan
Renewable energy in Afghanistan includes biomass, hydropower, solar, wind power. Afghanistan is a landlocked country located in Asia that holds a spot as one of the countries with a smaller ecological footprint. It has been contended at different levels that hydropower may be an easier source of renewable energy for Afghanistan than other nations due to their geographical location. Their mountainous environment facilitates hydro dams and other facets of hydro energy.
The nation however, is not entirely independent on their sources of energy; they import an annual sum from neighboring countries like Tajikistan. Another form of renewable energy that Afghanistan has been doing is the implementation of Biogas. With the start of Biogas, communities have begun to feel the benefits beyond that of the environment through capacity building as well.
Afghanistan is one of the lowest energy consuming countries in relation to a global standing.
The country continues to feel the effect of the war, and the hardships it has endured in the name of it continue to leave scars. With "looting and lack of maintenance and spare parts mean that generation capacity is far below the potential level […] which in turn is sustainability below the country's need". Afghanistan is not self sustainable with their use of energy, they also have the need to import energy from neighboring countries. One particular country that Afghanistan imports from is Tajikistan. It is known that "the three countries also agreed to set up a joint commission to explore possibilities into the transfer of 500 Kilo Watts of energy from Tajikistan to Afghanistan and Iran". Importing energy is a popular thing among central Asian countries, adding a deeper level of connectedness between governments and citizens.
Annual average solar insolation varies from 4 to 6.5 kWh/m2/day, with over 300 days of sunshine per year.
Traditional biomass energy supplies to 85% of energy demand, such as from wood and dung.
Biogas can be used in many different countries with the same function and uses. The renewable energy sector in Afghanistan is strong though has potential to grow through initiatives like Biogas The "use of biogas produced from anaerobic decomposition of organic material. This biogas typically contains equal amounts of CH4 and CO2." When biogas is converted in the right way, that is when the renewable energy and resource is possible deriving the hydrogen from the waste. Biogas "decompose municipal solid wastes anaerobically and landfill gas to energy projects that directly combust the landfill gas are being implemented." The strength of Biogas is incredible, it has been proven that the "biogas energy corridor can work as a good substitute for nearly 70% of the country's population residing in rural areas. Installation of plants to bottle the biogas can be additional opportunity. The need of a national policy is imperative to bring this technology at farmer's doorstep." The renewable energy that this brings is very strong through reducing the carbon footprint of each community immeasurably. The system of biogas also creates immense potential for capacity building through the community connectedness that goes into the process. The teamwork is inevitable that comes from this initiative with begins with an exchange of knowledge, both shared and new. Then capacity building can begin to form contributing to resources and market development growing rapidly. Advocacy for all parties is the only way for effective participatory renewable energy to be made. The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) spoke on the topic when the Country Program Manager of Afghanistan had this to say,
"UNEP is pleased to endorse the vision and mission of the Biogas Consortium Afghanistan. The majority of the population of Afghanistan uses firewood and coal for their cooking and heating needs; more sustainable energy options are required. […] UNEP has committed to providing higher-level guidance, helping the consortium align its activities towards national policies and strategies. UNEP shall also advocate the benefits and studies that arise from the consortiums work in biogas in Afghanistan"
Afghanistan has significant hydro resources with the river catchment area of 677,900 km2, annual average rainfall of 300 mm and wide spread hilly topography.
Currently there is a 304 MW installed capacity of electricity generated by hydropower, in which 183 MW are in operation.The current system in place in Afghanistan though it works well, is not without its flaws. As Yasah et al. contend, "the common strategy is currently to build micro-hydropower facilities to power single bulbs and maybe a water boiler for the whole community. Such constructions will not deliver sufficient power for electric ovens etc., grid electricity will not stretch out to the rural areas of Afghanistan in the near decades." That being said, hydropower and hydro-eergy are some of the best options that are currently in place. The geographical location of Afghanistan is extremely mountainous which makes the implementation of Hydropower an easier choice though not much has been created and implemented yet. Acknowledging how low Afghanistan's ecological footprint is in terms of their energy consumption talking about a worldwide standpoint, it is not a current possibility to have enough energy. In fact, "the country has 75 billion cubic meters of potentially available renewable water resources are also the main source of recharge for groundwater as precipitation is low in Afghanistan". Water has become such a precious commodity across the globe that makes having an abundance of it, as a natural resource is a fortunate reality for Afghanistan. That being said it is also contended that even though these ideas and proposals for hydro energy would work and have positive effects, the necessary work that is a project such as hydro energy.
Wind power is not the most commonly used tool in Afghanistan for renewable energy though there are vast opportunities. It is contended that the areas which would produce the most wind energy and would benefit the most are in Western Afghanistan and some areas in the Northern region as well.
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