Clean Energy as a Driver of Development

A regular electricity supply is something very few Afghans can take for granted. Although the Afghan government is implementing a new master plan for the electricity sector and has a national strategy for renewable energy, still only around a quarter of the population are connected to the power grid.

Context

Approximately three quarters of all Afghans live in the countryside, where barely ten per cent of the people enjoy access to a regular electricity supply.

Afghanistan’s electricity grid is not set up to deliver electric power reliably to all parts of the country. Not enough electricity is generated, transmission lines are obsolete or entirely lacking, and distribution grids are worn out or underdeveloped.

This situation results in many power losses and blackouts that sometimes last for days. This is compounded by the people’s high electricity consumption. At times, inefficient methods of heating water account for up to 40 per cent of the electricity load. There is an urgent need for energy efficiency measures, an increase in grid supply capacity and the expansion of decentralised electricity generation and local grids.

The Afghan government has set itself the target of increasing the country’s electricity production from natural gas and renewable energy (wind, hydro and solar power) from around 560 megawatts in 2019 to 2,300 megawatts in 2032.

Objective

Conditions are being improved for the promotion of renewable energy and energy efficiency in Afghanistan. To this end, the programme supports the Afghan government in implementing selected strategies for the energy sector, developing a market strategy for the private sector and training public employees and university staff for the energy sector in transition.

Measures and Results

On behalf of the German government, the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH is advising the Afghan Ministry of Energy and Water (MEW) and other public, private and academic institutions on planning for a sustainable energy supply. Employees of these institutions are learning how to develop and implement financing strategies and mechanisms for the energy sector, and to increase the efficiency of their work processes. Small and medium-sized enterprises and end consumers are to use the financing mechanisms in order to invest in renewable energy and energy efficiency.

 Supporting the implementation of new laws

The Afghan government has already adopted a number of important strategies for the energy sector and has put a legal framework in place. Renewable energy sources are now accepted as a serious and economically viable alternative to conventional means of generating electricity, and they are increasingly being included in planning processes. To further improve the way the new legislation and political strategies are implemented, ESIP is promoting cooperation between the main actors in Afghanistan’s energy sector at national, provincial and local authority level. The main focus is on carrying out a tariff reform based on transparent and uniform electricity charges that cover the actual costs, and on technical training for employees of the regulatory authorities, enabling them to define and implement procedures for setting tariffs.

Improving the energy market value chain

The programme is supporting efforts to improve the value chain in Afghanistan’s energy market. It is doing so by introducing standard components for solar power systems and voluntary standards for installation technicians. This will ensure the quality of the systems, from their procurement through to installation. This is meant to encourage small and medium-sized enterprises to invest in renewable energy generation systems and to operate and maintain them sustainably.

Training experts for the energy sector

The training of energy engineers should better prepare them for the changing energy sector. A programme of training for the sustainable operation of renewable energy facilities is to be integrated into their vocational training. The development of university curriculums in the field of renewables is also being discussed.

Expanding rural electricity supply

Renewable energy has the potential to contribute to rural development, as well as to the conservation of ecosystems and biodiversity. The programme aims to expand the supply of electricity to the rural population of Afghanistan’s north-east, and to enhance the people’s resilience to the effects of climate change. Micro-hydropower facilities are being rehabilitated and expanded, and off-grid solar power systems introduced. Afforestation and greening initiatives are being carried out close to micro-hydropower plants, to prevent erosion. Meanwhile, by introducing measures such as promoting the use of more efficient electrical appliances, the programme is improving the energy efficiency of micro-enterprises and households.

At a glance

Programme:
Energy Sector Improvement Programme (ESIP)
Commissioned by:
German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Partner:
Afghan Ministry of Energy and Water (MEW), Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat (DABS – Afghanistan’s national power utility), Afghan Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD), Afghan Ministry of Higher Education (MoHE), Universities, Afghanistan Renewable Energy Union (AREU)
Implementing organisations:
Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH
Provinces:
Badakhshan, Balkh, Herat, Kabul, Kunduz, Samangan, Takhar
Programme objective:
To improve the supply of environmentally sound, climate-friendly energy to urban and rural populations
Overall term:
December 2007 – June 2021