Herat’s renewable energy brings hope for bright future

The vast plain of the western province of Herat is blessed with renewable energy resources including wind and solar energy. The Afghan ministry of energy and water, in an attempt to reduce country’s dependency on energy import, have taken new initiative in Herat to generate renewable energy, which is a clean and cheap source of energy throughout the world.   

Najibullah Juwaini, head of the River Basin Management, says Herat is rich in renewable energy resources including solar and wind energy resources. He notes there will be no need to import power from foreign countries if the government and private sectors invest on renewable energy.

For the time being, Herat industrial town needs over 30 kw power supply to run 300 factories. This industrial town was working on power mainly imported from the neighboring Iran, but as early as last year, Iranian authorities cut power supply to Herat, leaving Afghan industrialists on the horns of a dilemma.

The Afghan ministry of water and energy states the country is ripe to produce 67,000 megawatts of electricity from wind energy, 220,000 megawatts electricity from solar energy, 4,000 megawatts of clean energy from biomass and 23,000 megawatts of electricity from water resources annually.

A mega project of power plant, capable to generate 400 mw, is under construction in Herat province. Three wind turbines, capable to generate 300 kW energy, are operational in the province. As many as 3250 solar panels, capable to generate 1.7 mw power, are also operational in Herat.

Local officials say that 4,200 acres of land have been designated to power plant program in Zendajan and Guzara districts of Herat province.   

Hamidullah Khadim, head of Chamber of Industries and Mines in Herat, said a Chinese company is prepared to invest worth of USD 70 million to build solar power plant on 700 acres of land. “Proposal of the Chinese company has already been sent to the Office of the President, and we are waiting for president’s order to approve the proposal,” he said.  

Though Herat city is relatively peaceful, the Taliban insurgents still pose security threat to almost all Herat districts.    

Kamran Alizai, head of Herat Provincial Council, calls on the government to ensure security and safety of private companies that are willing to invest on power plant.

Renewable energy is the only clean source of energy in the world. Experts say Afghanistan is naturally rich to develop mega projects of renewable energy but security concerns remain the only threat which hinders renewable energy projects throughout the country. Mr. Juwaini says two other foreign companies are interested to invest on renewable energy sector in Afghanistan but they are concerned about the worsening security situation.