Alternatives: Is Armenia’s energy future blowing in the wind?

Alternatives: Is Armenia’s energy future blowing in the wind?
10 June 2004

Special from Caucasus Media Institute

If Armenia’s nuclear power plant at Metsamor should shut down, the
Solaren company is ready to let the wind take over.

“According to the map of wind energy industry of Armenia, today
there is a great wind energy potential in the republic,” says head
of Solaren’s wind energy programs Artur Lalayan.

Reserves surveys show a potential of 400-450 megawatts of wind
energy in Armenia, about one-third of the total energy produced by
the nuclear power station.

For the present moment there are no wind power stations in Armenia,
however, two projects will be implemented within next three years.

According to Lalayan, in the end of 2005 the first two-megawatt wind
power station with capacity of annual 5 million kilowatt-hour capacity
will start functioning in the Pushkin mountain pass. It is constructed
with money from an Iranian-funded grant. Another wind power station
will be ready in three years. This 20-megawatt station is constructed
on the Sotki mountain pass (Vardenis) and will be annually producing
60 million kilowatts per hour.

Solaren believes Armenian winds are sufficient for developing wind
energy industry; only the seasonal nature of getting energy is one
of the program’s negative sides. Winds are stronger in Syunik and
Zangezor, Northern Regions of Sevan Lake, at the foot of Mt. Aragats,
and Karakhach.

Gas resources offer another energy alternative.

The governments of Armenia and Iran have recently signed Iran-Armenia
gas-transmission pipeline construction agreement. Fuel will be supplied
to a thermal power plant (under construction) with a capacity of 250
megawatts through that pipeline. In addition, programs of the European
Union foresee running small hydroelectric power stations of Armenia,
with a total capacity of 140 megawatts.

Small hydroelectric power stations are another source of alternative
electric energy. There are several dozens of them in Armenia. They
are mainly privatized. According to calculations, one kilowatt of
hydroelectric energy will cost seven cents. The potential of small
hydroelectric power stations is valued at approximately 300 megawatts
and production is equal to one billion kilowatts per hour of energy.

Today solar energy is also included in the energy budget of Armenia.

Executive director of Solaren, Victor Afyan says: “If we place solar
water heaters on the territory of 16 square kilometers then we will
satisfy demand for the energy of the whole county.”

The first solar water heaters have already been created here. They
correspond to all international standards and have necessary
documentation. The device costs about $300 and costs $400-600 to
install. But after installation, energy is self-created.

Solaren also tries to get energy from household gas. According to
Afyan, they installed a device with carrying capacity of 25 cubic
meters in Agrospasarkum livestock farm. By means of burning liquid
dung that device produces 20-30 cubic meters of gas. Dung is fermented
and as a result it produces gas. In its turn it burns out producing
electric energy. After burning, the waste is sold to villagers as
fertilizer material.

“If household gas devices are installed in such organizations
functioning in Armenia then it will become possible to get 900
megawatts of energy per hour,” explains Afyan.

According to the director, they are also working on introducing
legislative reforms which will lead to development of restorative

Solaren is sure it is not possible to shut down the nuclear power
station without having alternative energy sources. It is necessary to
have serious financial assets both for deactivation and detoxification
as well as for conducting construction works of devices producing
alternative energy sources. And even if there are such assets it can
take tens of years for getting and gaining energy using alternative