Afghanistan announces EoI for 2 GW solar tender

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In a bid to reduce dependence on energy imports, improve energy access for the around 70% of the Afghani population still lacking it, and to meet the expected increase in energy demand over the coming decade, the government of Afghanistan is rolling out a number of new tenders to increase domestic installed capacity.

One of these is a 2 GW solar tender, which aims to install 400 MW of grid connected PV in each of the provinces of Kabul, Nangarhar, Kandahar, Herat, Balkh. As a first step, the Ministry of Energy and Water has issued a call for expressions of interest (EoI) to be submitted by December 20.

The minimum bid capacity is 50 MW, and each project may comprise several locations within a province. The land for each project, however, will be allocated by the government.

“These Projects are located in large and populated areas of the country where national grid is available and the demand is also very high,” reads a government document. It adds, “This package will provide reliable power access to residence, businesses, schools and governmental institutions in general to ensure a success and the replication of the projects afterwards to all over the country.”

Parallel to the EoI, the government says it will also work on a feasibility study, and identify and allocate land for the projects.

Annual energy demand in Afghanistan is projected to increase at 12-15% over the next decade, which will result in a supply shortfall of over 6 GW by 2023 says the government.

Currently, it says that domestic power supply is around 1.073 GWh or 22% of total supply, while power imports from central Asia and Iran account for 78% of total supply.

“Afghanistan only generates around 504 MW of electricity mainly from hydro power followed by fossil fuel and solar power. It is estimated that the country will need more than 3000 MW to meet its need by 2020, implying the need for a fundament up-shift in generation,” continues the document.

Just over 30% of the population of Afghanistan is said to have access to electricity, with a large disparity in the locations of supply. Indeed, the government says that while 70% of the Kabul population has almost 24-hour access to electricity, the majority of the rural population does not have access to even basic forms.

In addition to its solar plans, the government is also working on a number of other energy projects, including hydro, wind, coal and gas. It says it has already awarded five, comprising one hydro, two solar and two gas to power projects.

In September, the International Finance Corporation, part of the World Bank, agreed to help tender and develop a 40 MW solar power project, which is planned for an unidentified location in the country.