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Kristine Aghalaryan

Mini Hydro Plants Have Destroyed Armenia's Large River Eco-Systems

Ever since Armenia regained independence the number of mini hydro-electric plants has increased by 136 from the 13 operating in the Soviet era.

They produce 665.3 million kilowatt/hours of energy annually. 

Another 77 are in the process of being built and will soon come on line.

These statistics were provided by Armen Hayrapetyan, Executive Director of the Mini Hydro-Plants Union” at a conference entitled “The Future of Energy in Armenia: A Conference on Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency in Armenia”.

Hayrapetyan is an outspoken supporter of such plants as a important renewable energy source and says they pose a negligible environmental risk.

Aram Gabrielyan, who represents the Khazer NGO, took issue with Hayrapetyan’s favourable assessment, arguing that while water is indeed a renewable resource at issue is the entire eco-system and that it is hardly renewable.

Gabrielyan noted that it isn’t the overall energy sector in Armenia that is being promoted but rather mini hydro plants.

“We have lost all our large rivers. There isn’t one left that can be regarded as a complete eco-system,” Gabrielyan told the conference, citing the examples of the Hrazdan and Vorotan rivers.

He went on to say that there aren’t enough rivers left in Armenia to serve another 77 hydro plants.

Photo: Yeghegis River, Vayots Dzor