Afghanistan’s High Economic Council has approved a plan to deploy 100 MW of renewable energy generation capacity across the country. Local TV channel 1TV reports that the plan includes 65 MW of solar, 14 MW from wind power projects, 13.5 MW from biomass and 7.5 MW from hydropower plants.
The government said that seven companies have expressed interest in developing the 30 projects of the plan, and that two unnamed developers were deemed eligible.
According to a document released by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) in October, the solar projects selected in the government tender range in size from 1 MW to 30 MW.
The largest project is a 30 MW solar diesel hybrid system located in the southern province of Kandahar, which is especially plagued by electricity shortages. In February 2016, president Mohammad Ashraf Ghani said that the energy issues of the region would be also be solved by, among other things, solar energy’s transmission from the Ghazni province.
The second and third biggest projects are a 10 MW solar hydro hybrid plant and a 5 MW rooftop PV system, which will both be located in Kabul. Another 5 MW solar project will be developed in the province of Ghor, while a 3 MW installation will be built in Helmand province. The remaining projects have a capacity between 1.5 MW and 1 MW and are located in other provinces.
Overall, these solar projects are expected to require an aggregate investment of $221.5 million.
Afghanistan’s Ministry of Energy and Water aims at installing 500 MW of PV plants by 2020. The country’s renewable energy policy is targeting 4 GW to 5 GW of new renewable energy capacity by 2030.
According to a report published in July 2016 by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), which is the U.S. government’s oversight authority on Afghanistan reconstruction, the status of the country’s electricity supply, which still depends on massive imports from neighbor countries, remains quite precarious. Afghanistan, in fact, has one of the world’s lowest rates of access to electricity with a per capita consumption of about 100 kWh per year.
According to the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD), over 100,000 solar home systems have been installed in order to electrify various remote parts of the country.
The German Corporation for International Cooperation has been supporting the Afghan Government in its efforts to develop renewable energies since 2007. According to the agency, Afghanistan has adopted five different renewable energy laws and strategies to date.