Potential of solar photovoltaic and wind power plants in meeting electricity demand in Afghanistan

Date of Award


Degree Name

M.S. in Renewable and Clean Energy


Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. Graduate Renewable and Clean Energy Program


Advisor: Robert Brecha


This thesis analyses the potential of large-scale grid-connected solar photovoltaic (PV) and wind power plants in two of Afghanistan's most populous provinces (Balkh and Herat) to meet a fraction of growing electricity demand. The analysis is performed by quantifying resource quality, variability and cost of energy generation. First, the quality of solar and wind resources is quantified by characterizing wind speed and solar radiation and calculating capacity factors and energy yields from hypothetical power plants using measured wind speed and typical solar radiation data. Second, variability of wind and solar resources is quantified by comparing their daily and seasonal profiles with electricity demand profiles, analyzing their impacts on load duration curves and determining their penetration and curtailment levels for various demand scenarios. Finally, cost of energy generated from solar PV and wind power plants is determined. The research shows that future solar PV and wind power plants in Balkh and Herat provinces could achieve very high penetration levels without significant curtailment meaning less reliance on unpredictable and unstable power purchase agreements with neighboring countries, longer life of limited domestic fossil fuel resources such as coal and natural gas, and less imports of diesel fuel with rising costs and unfriendly environmental impacts.


Solar power plants Afghanistan Planning, Wind power plants Afghanistan Planning, Renewable energy sources Afghanistan Planning, Afghanistan Energy consumption Planning, Electrical Engineering, Energy, Environmental Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Afghanistan, Solar PV and Wind Power Plants, Electricity Demand, Resource Quality, Resource Variability, Cost of Energy Generation

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