Solar Power Proves a Successful Energy Alternative in Armenia’s Basen Community
Residents of Basen, a rural community in Armenia’s Shirak Province, have been using solar power to heat their kindergarten and grow vegetables in a hothouse.
The use of solar power is the result of a UNDP financed project to construct and operate solar heating systems and increase energy efficiency in communities throughout Armenia.
The US$34,000 project kicked off in Basen in 2013 and the community contributed $15,000 from its own budget.
Basen Mayor Hamlet Petrosyan says that the community’s contribution was also in the form of sweat equity.
“We set out to break the stereotype that a hothouse operation couldn’t be started in Shirak Province and be successful. We carried out the hothouse project with the Biosofia Environmental NGO,” says Petrosyan.
Basen’s mayor estimates the community has saved one million AMD (US$2,089) by installing the solar power technology. Computers for the kindergarten have been purchased with the savings.
Petrosyan points to the 440 kilos in crops collected from the 60 square meter hothouse.
12 Basen households have installed solar water heaters and the mayor has built a 250 square meter hothouse using the same technology.
Seeing the success of solar power, many others in Basen, a community that isn’t supplied with natural gas, have expressed a desire to use solar to heat their homes and water.
“I am convinced that very soon expensive power generators will be replaced by equipment running on the solar grid,” said Mayor Petrosyan.
Basen residents are so enthused about the new technology that they have created a Basen Community Development Fund with a $44,000 reserve to expand the worms composting plant on site.