Cablegate: Good Security Allows Panjshir to Develop Sustainable
DE RUEHBUL #3087/01 3360421
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 010421Z DEC 08
FM AMEMBASSY KABUL
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6260
INFO RUCNAFG/AFGHANISTAN COLLECTIVE
RUEKJCS/OSD WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KABUL 003087
DEPARTMENT FOR SCA/FO, SCA/A, EUR/RPM
STATE PASS TO AID FOR ASIA/SCAA
NSC FOR WOOD
OSD FOR WILKES
CENTCOM FOR CG CSTC-A, CG CJTF-101 POLAD
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SGNV ENRG PGOV AF
SUBJECT: GOOD SECURITY ALLOWS PANJSHIR TO DEVELOP SUSTAINABLE
1. Summary. Panjshir province has become a model for "clean"
energy, with virtually 100 percent of electricity coming from
renewable sources. Recent projects include Afghanistan's first wind
farm providing power for the provincial government center, multiple
micro hydro-electric systems, and solar-powered health clinics.
Panjshir's unique security environment allows such energy projects
to be built and sustained, free from interference or sabotage.
Additionally, these clean energy projects will allow Panjshir to
maintain its relatively pristine environment - a key element in the
province being able to develop its tourism potential when
Afghanistan's overall security situation improves in the future.
POWERING THE PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT
2. First Vice President Ahmed Zia Massoud inaugurated Afghanistan's
first power-generating wind farm on November 13. The wind farm
project, funded by the Panjshir PRT at a cost of USD 977,000, has a
capacity of 30 kw of electricity, expandable to 100 kw. The ten
turbines of the wind farm serve as the primary power source for the
new provincial government complex.
3. Providing power on a consistent basis to the government complex,
the wind farm has enabled the governor's staff and key ministry
personnel to be co-located which significantly improved coordination
among provincial officials. Prior to transferring to the compound,
officials were scattered throughout the province and were often
operating in facilities that were inadequate at best.
A LEADER IN SUSTAINABLE ENERGY
4. The wind farm is only the latest example of the application of
renewable energy technology in the Panjshir Valley. Approximately
25 percent of the province's population has access to electricity --
virtually all of it from renewable sources. Lacking a provincial
power grid, and given Panjshir's rugged mountainous terrain, the
valley presents an ideal setting for decentralized, renewable energy
projects. Additionally, Panjshir is endowed with all the right
ingredients for "green" energy -- swift-running rivers, ample
sunshine, and, near-constant wind at higher elevations.
5. In addition to the wind farm, the province has 27 PRT funded
"micro hydro-electric" projects either completed or in process. A
single micro hydro-electric system can provide electricity for
approximately 500 people, enough to power most of Panjshir's
villages while having little effect on the river's flow. The
province is also considering the feasibility of a significantly
larger power-generating dam project in the valley. Such a project,
if built, could potentially power not only most of Panjshir, but
also areas beyond the valley.
6. Additionally, solar power is playing an increasingly important
role in the electricity mix of the valley. Solar-panels on health
clinics throughout Panjshir will power water purification systems.
The water purifiers will not only provide clean water for the
clinics, but also for surrounding villagers, helping address the
problem of water-borne illnesses in the province.
7. While green electricity is becoming increasingly important in
Panjshir, Panjshiris must still rely on traditional fuels for
heating, including wood and dried animal dung. As trees are already
a scarce resource in the rocky gorges of the valley, fast-growing,
high-altitude "hybrid Poplar" trees that provide a ready source of
firewood and building material are being considered as a potential
project for the province.
SECURITY MAKES IT WORK
8. Projects such as the Panjshir wind farm are relatively expensive
and vulnerable to sabotage. While not suitable in all areas of
Afghanistan, they work in Panjshir because of the secure
environment, free from Taliban or other insurgent actiity. Such
projects serve as a powerful and hghly visible demonstration of
what is possibl when security is present. First Vice President
Massoud, brother of the late Ahmed Shah Massoud -- the legendary
"Lion of Panjshir," notd in his remarks at the wind farm opening
KABUL 00003087 002 OF 002
that "Security will always be a concern for anything we develop in
this country...but Panjshir's geographical location and
well-esablished security made this province a good choie to usher
in the development we hope to bing to our country."