Yerevan, Armenia -- Armenia is set to develop its renewable energy resources in the coming years, announced its deputy minister of energy and natural resources Areg Galstyan. It will set its focus mainly on hydropower plants, but it will put some emphasis on solar energy, as well. However the government is hesitant towards the development of its wind sector.
The Armenian government is taking renewables development very seriously as it has little to no traditional fuel reserves. Without the alternative energy, the country could face serious crisis in coming decades.
"Armenia is highly dependent on imported gas and other energy sources. Today the share of renewable resources in the total energy structure of the country accounts for 23 percent,” according to the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources. “We expect that by 2020 this figure should exceed 50 percent.”
A representative of the Ministry also added: “Since 2006 due to construction of the large number of small hydropower plants our country experienced 2.5-fold increase in electricity production. Now Armenia has 95 small hydropower plants with total capacity of 124 MW, which produce 387 million kWh of electricity. Over the next 10-15 years, the number of small hydropower is expected to reach 164 [MW].”
Construction has already begun on the Megrin hydropower plant, which borders with Iran’s Araks River. According to the representatives of the project, developed by Armenian and Iranian experts, the Meghri hydropower plant will have a capacity of 130 MW and will generate 800 million kWh of electricity. Experts in the Ministry also praised the construction of two hydropower plants in Northern Armenia – the 60-MW Loriberdskoy plant and 75-MW Shnohskoy plant. Construction of the three plants will be completed by 2025.
Solar Entering the Mix
The government also sees great potential for solar energy, as Armenia located in a favorable geographical position for solar resources.
"We have about 80 percent of the average illuminance. In Europe, the figure is amounted only to 60 percent,” estimated Hayk Khachatryan, chairman of the Armenian Renewable Energy Association “Clean Energy.” “Even in the northern parts of Europe they are using solar energy.”
Armenia’s total solar capacity potential to range from 1,700 to 2,300 MW, he estimated.
Wind Power Unprofitable
Armenia has 10,000 MW of potential wind energy capacity, estimated the experts of "Clean Energy." This figure is almost 10 times more than the annual energy produced by nuclear power plants, but the construction of wind power plans in Armenia is still unprofitable.
Ike Shekoyan, an Armenian renewable energy expert, estimated that the construction of an average wind power plant would require about US$1.4 million.
"It turns out that this is very expensive and unaffordable. But we can use the practice of European countries and [use their] modern equipment so that cost will be several times lower," he said.
Lead image: Armenia flower via Shutterstock