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Armenia considers plan to abandon nuclear power and go for renewables

Armenia Debates Shift Away From Nuclear Power, Eurasia Net  December 6, 2017 – Oksana Musaelyan 

With its aged nuclear power plant scheduled to close in a decade, Armenians are discussing the feasibility of a shift to renewable energy.

A new Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement with the European Union has helped catalyze the renewables discussion. Metsamor, the only nuclear plant in the Caucasus, provides about one-third of Armenia’s energy needs, but it is already past its original retirement date. As of now it is scheduled to close in 2026.

A provision in the EU partnership document calls for: “the closure and safe decommissioning of Metzamor [sic] nuclear power plant and the early adoption of a road map or action plan to that effect, taking into consideration the need for its replacement with new capacity to ensure the energy security of the Republic of Armenia and conditions for sustainable development.”

Armenia’s Justice Minister Davit Harutyunyan recently raised eyebrows by suggesting, contra previous government assurances, that the country wasn’t necessarily committed to nuclear power………

Advocates of renewable energy say that it is particularly well suited for Armenia because of its particular geopolitical situation: its borders with Azerbaijan and Turkey are closed, and its dependence on natural gas and uranium from Russia has led to an uncomfortable degree of political dependence on Moscow.

Armenia was the first country in the region to easily offer permits to construct small solar, wind, and hydro power generation plants, and today renewable energy accounts for about 12 percent of Armenia’s total power consumption. That’s projected to grow to up to 18 percent in the next two years, according to Astghine Pasoyan, head of the Armenian Foundation to Save Energy.

Most of Armenia’s renewable energy today comes from small hydropower plants; solar and wind represent only a tiny portion of Armenia’s total electricity generation. But that portion is growing: Solar panels with a capacity of 3.5 megawatts have been installed over the last 10 years, with more than two-thirds of that total built only over the last year, Pasoyan said.

Further expansion is in the cards: in May, Armenia’s Energy Ministry issued a tender for a 55 megawatt solar power facility and a contractor, Arpi Solar, said in December that it will start work on the plan “very soon.”
“We started with a very small number and the trend is huge,” Pasoyan said. “I hope that the growth is not just in large-scale generation, but in average individual families, taking control of their energy needs and by doing that also helping the country strengthen its energy security.”

Pending changes in legislation would further liberalize the energy market. “For a lot of local communities and local businesses this will be a good opportunity to invest in renewable energy,” said Alen Amirkhanyan, director of the Acopian Center for the Environment at the American University of Armenia.

Amirkhanyan said that with sufficient investment in renewables, “there will no longer be a rationale for investing in very expensive technology, like building a new power plant.”……… http://www.eurasianet.org/node/86381

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December 7, 2017 - Posted by | EUROPE, renewable

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