Armenia to focus on solar energy
Economic Times reported that landlocked Armenia has long relied on Russia for its energy needs, but the government is hoping to reduce that dependence by tapping a resource that is plentiful in the region: the sun. With few fossil fuel resources of its own and its sole nuclear power plant nearing the end of its working life, Armenia is banking on renewable energy to reduce its dependence on its former Soviet master, which accounts for nearly 83% of gas imports.
And with Armenia much sunnier than most of Europe according to government figures, it receives 1,720 kilowatt hours per square metre of sunlight every year, compared to an average of 1,000 in Europe solar energy looks to be the most promising.
The ex-Soviet republic's Deputy Energy Minister Hayk Harutyunyan told AFP that "To ensure its energy security and independence, Armenia, like any other country, strives to diversify energy sources.”
Within four years, up to eight percent of the country's energy needs will be covered by renewables, according to the government's policy paper.
The document estimates the country's potential capacity of solar energy production at up to 3,000 megawatts enough to meet domestic demand and even make Armenia a net electricity exporter.
Mr Harutyunyan said that a consortium of investors from 10 countries will soon start building a solar plant capable of producing 55 megawatts of electricity.
One of the backers, the World Bank, has earmarked some USD 60 million for the project, as part of its initiative to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions.
So far, three solar power plants with capacity of one megawatt each have been built across the country and seven more will follow by the end of 2018.
Next year, the headquarters of the Armenian cabinet of ministers will fully switch to solar energy, subsequently followed by all governmental buildings.
A pilot project was launched in March to install rooftop solar panels in remote villages across the country to provide households with electricity and hot water.
In late 2015, an Armenian tycoon with business interests in Russia, Samvel Karapetyan, bought out Armenia's indebted electricity distribution company from a Kremlin-controlled holding, Inter RAO.
Karapetyan's Tashit Group is investing in solar projects and has already spent some USD 500,000 in building a solar power plant in the mountainous tourist town of Tsaghkadzor.
In addition to increasing the share of renewables, the Armenian government is seeking to reduce that of natural gas and oil by more than a third by 2020, compared with 2010 levels.
Source : Economic Times