Solar panel arrays have been popping up throughout farmlands in Afghanistan to show arid land into fertile floor. This has been extensively evident within the area’s burgeoning poppy market, the place solar-powered irrigation methods are boosting opium cultivation.

According to UNODC, the UN physique answerable for monitoring and tackling illicit drug exercise, virtually 80% of all Afghan opium now comes from the south-west of the nation.

In complete, Afghanistan is believed to be answerable for greater than two-thirds of the world’s illicit opium provide, opium that gives the resin to make the extremely addictive drug heroin.

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The complete opium-poppy cultivation space in Afghanistan was estimated at 263,000 hectares in 2018, with Helmand being the main cultivating province.

However, your complete area has been closely affected by drought and poor water administration in recent times. As a consequence, the poppy harvest and opium revenue declined drastically.

The conventional Kareze irrigation system utilized by native farmers not equipped the wants of Afghanistan’s rising agricultural sector. The system is an historic one which makes use of tunnels and wells to switch water over nice distances to farmland.

The resolution, nevertheless, was present in photo voltaic panels linked to a pump that pulls up groundwater to be used when the irrigation canals dry up. Farmers drill down 100m (325ft) to succeed in groundwater, put in an electrical pump and join it to photo voltaic panels inflicting water to circulate.

Before photo voltaic, farmers needed to run the pump with a diesel generator. However, very costly gasoline was limiting the quantity of water they might pump. Now, a farmer can fill a big reservoir utilizing two arrays of 18 photo voltaic panels powering two electrical pumps.

An upfront cost of $5,000 – $7,000 will procure an array of photo voltaic panels and an electrical pump. Once put in, the system pays for itself on account of virtually zero operating prices.

According to BBC reporter Justin Rowlatt the usage of photo voltaic expertise is changing into widespread quickly. The first Afghan farmer used PV in 2013 and the next 12 months merchants began stocking just a few photo voltaic panels in Lashkar Gah, the capital of the Helmand province. Since then development has been exponential, with sources counting 67,000 photo voltaic arrays simply within the Helmand valley.

Future plans

Afghanistan’s electrical energy combine is dominated by electrical energy imports which are complemented by home hydropower. The nation has restricted pure sources of electrical energy and is importing from 4 neighbouring international locations: the Islamic Republic of Iran, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.

The nation is about to extend renewable power with a concentrate on photo voltaic. In late 2019 Afghanistan’s Ministry of Energy & Water issued a tender for a 40MW photo voltaic venture at an unspecified location in Herat province, within the northern a part of the nation.

The venture can be primarily based on the mannequin danger allocation, documentation and methodology developed beneath the World Bank Group’s ‘Scaling Solar’ initiative.

Scaling Solar is an open, aggressive and clear method that facilitates the speedy improvement of privately-owned, utility-scale photo voltaic PV initiatives, providing a ‘one-stop-shop’ bundle of contracts, financing,
ensures and insurance coverage. The initiative will see a number of tenders being launched sooner or later.

Afghanistan is among the many poorest international locations on this planet and the financial system closely depends on agriculture. Poppy cultivation has turn out to be a key supply of revenue for Afghan farmers and a key part of the nationwide financial system.

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The submit Solar sows surge in Afghan opium harvest appeared first on Power Engineering International.

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