Alexan Avagyan, a radio physicist by training, is convinced that Armenia is among the countries with the best potential in the world for solar energy. Avagyan says that solar energy could be a viable alternative to thermal power, securing 30 percent of the electricity produced in the country.
“In European countries, 1 megawatt of power generates 1.2 million kilowatt/hours of electricity, while this figure is 1.7 million kilowatt/hours in Armenia. The sunlight is stronger here. And it’s no coincidence that we built this solar power station in the Vayots Dzor community of Gladzor. This is the best location in Armenia to generate solar energy. The number of sunny days and the brightness of the sun are both very high, our 4000 panels absorb that sunlight,” Alexan Avagyan, executive director of the Arevadzor Solar Station, explained.
Arevadzor Solar Station has been functional for a year and was built with funding from the European Union as part of the “Enhancing small and medium enterprise competitiveness through promotion and wider use of sustainable innovative technologies” programme. The solar power station is built at an elevation of 1400 metres and produces enough energy to meet the needs of 500 families. The solar panels that have been installed are resistant to adverse weather conditions and can be used up to 25 years.
“In 2016, the European Union announced a grant competition, the purpose of which was to support the local economy in Armenian communities and help them overcome poverty. Our Tourism Regional Centre NGO also submitted an application and we won a grant. The European Union is helping our region become economically more competitive,” said Avagyan.
As part of another component of the project, new jobs will be created for villagers that convert their furnished homes to bed-and-breakfasts after the necessary minor renovation.
This project, supported by the European Union, facilitates the development of ecotourism in Vayots Dzor. Solar energy helps makes this objective a reality by making available services more sustainable. More than 200 local residents, SMEs, potential employers, and jobseekers gained knowledge in the ecotourism sector and energy conservation technology, which they applied to their tourism businesses.
“The project provided grants to 17 families, allowing them to make their homes more environmentally friends and host their first guests. The photovoltaic station will ensure the sustainability of this programme,” Avagyan said.
The Arevadzor solar station has a capacity of 1 megawatt and produces 1.7 million kilowatt/hours of electricity a year, which is converted to a direct current, then an alternating one, after which it is fed into the national electric grid. The income from selling this electricity to the Electric Networks of Armenia is directed to the development of tourism in the region, creating new jobs, new tourist routes, information points.
“The income we get from selling the electricity maintains the sustainability of this project. The B&Bs and solar station are different components of the same project, but they share a common objective – overcoming poverty in Vayots Dzor marz by creating new jobs, mainly in the ecotourism sector. There will also be a tourism information centre, the objective of which is to provide technical support to new B&Bs being established in distant villages of the region, as well as to continue the programme that was established with EU support,” Avagyan noted.