Wind power is one of the fastest-growing renewable energy technologies. Its usage is on the rise worldwide, in part because costs are falling. Wind is used to produce electricity using the kinetic energy created by air motion. This is transformed into electrical energy using wind turbines or wind energy conversion systems. Wind first hits a turbine’s blades, causing them to rotate and turn the turbine connected to them that changes the kinetic energy to rotational energy, by moving a shaft which is connected to a generator, and thereby producing electrical energy through electromagnetism. The amount of power that can be harvested from wind depends on the size of the turbine and the length of its blades. The output is proportional to the dimensions of the rotor and to the cube of the wind speed. Theoretically, when wind speed doubles, wind power potential increases by a factor of eight.
Wind-turbine capacity has increased over time. In 1985, typical turbines had a rated capacity of 0.05 megawatts (MW) and a rotor diameter of 15 meters. Today’s new wind power projects have turbine capacities of about 2 MW onshore and 3–5 MW offshore. Commercially available wind turbines have reached 8 MW capacity, with rotor diameters of up to 164 meters. The average capacity of wind turbines increased from 1.6 MW in 2009 to 2 MW in 2014.
According to the wind resource potential map published by ministry of energy and water of Afghanistan, Afghanistan has a potential of 147563 MW and its visible wind energy capacity is 366726 MW. Badghis, Herat, Farah, Nimrooz, Badakhshan, Balkh, Takhar and Parwan are among the provinces with highest potential for production of the wind energy.
Energy can be harnessed directly from the sun, even in cloudy weather. Solar energy is used worldwide and is increasingly popular for generating electricity or heating and desalinating water. Solar power is generated in two main ways:
Photovoltaics (PV), also called solar cells, are electronic devices that convert sunlight directly into electricity. The modern solar cell is like an image and most people would recognize – they are in the panels installed on houses and in calculators. They were invented in 1954 at Bell Telephone Laboratories in the United States. Today, PV is one of the fastest-growing renewable energy technologies and is ready to play a major role in the future global electricity generation mix. Solar PV installations can be combined to provide electricity on a commercial scale or arranged in smaller configurations for mini-grids or personal use. Using solar PV to power mini grids is an excellent way to bring electricity access to people who do not live near power transmission lines, particularly in developing countries with excellent solar energy resources. The cost of manufacturing solar panels has plummeted dramatically in the last decade, making them not only affordable but often the cheapest form of electricity. Solar panels have a lifespan of roughly 30 years and come in variety of shades depending on the type of material used in manufacturing.
Based on the report produced by Ministry of Energy and Water of Afghanistan, the country has a potential of 65982912 MW solar energy and feasible area in MW is 222852. Helmand, Kandahar, Herat, Farah and Nimrooz are among the provinces with highest potential and capacity for producing solar energy in Afghanistan.
Hydropower is energy derived from flowing water. More than 2,000 years ago, today it is among the most cost-effective means of generating electricity and is often the preferred method, where available. In Norway, for example, 99% of electricity comes from hydropower. The world’s largest hydropower plant is the 22.5-gigawatt Three Gorges Dam in China. It produces 80 to 100 terawatt-hours per year, enough to supply between 70 million and 80 million households. Small-scale micro-hydropower projects can make a big difference to communities in remote locations.
The basic principle of hydropower is using water to drive turbines. Hydropower plants consist of two basic configurations: with dams and reservoirs, or without. Hydropower dams with a large reservoir can store water over short or long periods to meet peak demand. The facilities can also be divided into smaller dams for different purposes, such as night or day use, seasonal storage, or pumped-storage reversible plants, for both pumping and electricity generation. Hydropower without dams and reservoirs means producing at a smaller scale, typically from a facility designed to operate in a river without interfering in its flow. For this reason, many consider small-scale hydro a more environmentally friendly option. Considering the mountainous geographical condition and climate of Afghanistan, the country has more great water resources with different water basins across the country.
The report published by Ministry of Energy and Water in 2014 states that the country has a total hydro energy production of 23310 MW. According to the report, Panj and Amu river basis have more than 18,000 MW of this potential while Badakhshan has more than 20,000 MW out of this potential.
Bioenergy use falls into two main categories: “traditional” and “modern”. Traditional use refers to the combustion of biomass in such forms as wood, animal waste and traditional charcoal. Modern bioenergy technologies include liquid biofuels produced from bagasse and other plants; bio-refineries; biogas produced through anaerobic digestion of residues; wood pellet heating systems; and other technologies. About three-quarters of the world’s renewable energy use involves bioenergy, with more than half of that consisting of traditional biomass use. Bioenergy accounted for about 10% of total final energy consumption and 1.4% of global power generation in 2015. According to the available data and official reports produced by Ministry of Energy and Water of Afghanistan in 2014, Afghanistan has a potential of producing 35269739 MW/h every year energy from biomass resources. This can be done through municipality solid wastes mainly available in urban areas, crops residues, and animal manure which can be more accessible in urban areas of Afghanistan.
The environmental advantages of renewable energy, including lower carbon emissions and reduced air pollution have been widely known for decades. The renewables profoundly impact the climate change, health, and employment. Its numerous socio-economic benefits, however, have only become apparent in recent decades, as the deployment of renewable energy technologies has become more widespread.
Wind, solar and hydropower produce little or no air pollution. Other renewable energy technologies, such as biomass and geothermal, do emit air pollutants, but at much lower rates than most conventional fuels. Air pollution has become a critically important issue in many developing countries, where up to 2.9 billion people still rely on wood, coal and charcoal for cooking and heating homes. Cleaner options, including biomass and solar technologies, can play a role in this regard.
Over one billion people lack access to electricity, while a further one billion have an unreliable supply. Improved reliability, rapidly falling technology costs and supportive policies have made stand-alone and mini-grid renewable electricity solutions viable for the 80% of those without access in rural areas or small developing island states. One of the most compelling arguments for off-grid solutions is that they are decentralized, and because project development activities occur locally, job creation is also localized. Based on world bank report only 36% of the Afghanistan population have access to energy which is very low among the neighboring countries.
The energy transition is a pathway towards the transformation of the global energy sector from fossil-based to zero-carbon by the second half of this century. At its heart is the need to reduce energy-related CO2 emissions to limit climate change. Decarbonization of the energy sector requires urgent action on a global scale, and while a global energy transition is underway, further action is needed to reduce carbon emissions and mitigate the effects of climate change. Renewable Energy and energy efficiency measures can potentially achieve 90% of the required carbon reductions. The energy transition will be enabled by information technology, smart technology, policy frameworks and market instruments. Afghanistan has great potential for the production of a higher amount of renewable energy for domestic use as well as exporting to neighboring countries. Taking the advantages of Afghanistan’s renewable energy resources full potential will help the region and the world in the reduction of carbon dioxide at a great level.