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WIREs Energy Environ.

The renewable energy sector in Afghanistan: Policy and potential

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Afghanistan has one of the lowest rates of access to and usage of electricity in the world. Fuelwood, charcoal, agricultural, and animal waste still dominate in meeting energy needs for cooking and heating, with a large percentage of the population using kerosene, candles, and gas for lighting. Yet the situation has changed significantly since the U.S. and coalition combat operations that began at the end of 2001. The period through to the present day has seen a fivefold increase in the electrification rate; agreements with Central Asian countries and Iran for importing electricity; the implementation of thousands of small‐scale renewable energy projects in rural areas; the development and rehabilitation of several large‐scale energy projects; the (partial) development of the institutional, policy, and regulatory landscape; and the expansion of transmission lines and distribution networks. Although accurate information is scarce, Afghanistan has both substantial fossil fuel reserves and renewable energy potential. The country's wind power potential alone looks likely to exceed projected power demand for several decades ahead. Similarly, both the estimated hydropower and solar photovoltaic (PV) potential each exceed projected 2032 power demand. The institutional context of the Afghanistan energy sector is complex, comprising multiple ministries, government agencies, aid agencies, and intergovernmental organizations. Nonetheless, given suitable coordination, the technologies, natural resources, and capabilities are available for transforming the sector and the lives of many people. WIREs Energy Environ 2018, 7:e280. doi: 10.1002/wene.280

This article is categorized under:

  • Energy Infrastructure > Climate and Environment
  • Energy Policy and Planning > Economics and Policy
  • Energy Policy and Planning > Systems and Infrastructure
(a) Renewable power potential (nominal installation capacity) for Afghanistan relative to 2015 and projected 2032 demand (log scale). (b) Renewable power potential (nominal installation capacity) for Afghanistan relative to 2015 and projected 2032 demand (normal scale). Sources for (a) and (b): hydropower (Ministry of Energy and Water, ); solar PV and CSP (Anwarzai & Nagasaka, ); wind (Chaurey et al., ); geothermal (ICE, 2016); biomass (Ministry of Energy and Water, ). Except for solar PV and CSP, these are nominal installation capacity values that do not take into account operational availability factors. For solar PV and CSP, source GWh values have been legitimately divided by 8760 because the GWh values already include availability factors. Where multiple estimates exist, the conservative values as described in main text are used. Overall, the values should be seen as indicative only, given the difficulties that the source texts refer to in relation to accessing accurate, relevant data
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Afghanistan's first wind farm in 2008: 10 turbines in Panjshir Valley. The windfarm was installed by Empower Consultants in NZ and delivers 75 kW of electricity for government facilities in the Panjshir Valley (Scoop Business, ). Photograph by Daniel Wilkinson (U.S. State Department), U.S. Embassy Kabul Afghanistan, Public Domain (https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22226462)
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Energy Policy and Planning > Economics and Policy
Energy Policy and Planning > Systems and Infrastructure
Energy Infrastructure > Climate and Environment

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