Emission of Greenhouse Gases by Hydropower Reservoirs in Afghanistan
European Scientific Journal May 2019 edition Vol.15
Emission of Greenhouse Gases by Hydropower Reservoirs in Afghanistan
Mohammad Anwar Shareefy 0
0 Assistant Professor at Parwan University , Afghanistan
Studies show that hydropower reservoirs produce 35-70 times more greenhouse gas (GHG) when compared to thermal power plants. The emissions not only depend on the type of eco-region in which the reservoir is located but also on the reservoir characteristics and water quality parameters. This paper explains the emission of greenhouse gases of hydropower reservoirs in Afghanistan. This paper focuses on the introduction and explanation of the main factors for the production of carbon dioxide and methane . This indicates, how much or how large, the quantity of greenhouse gases which are produced by hydropower reservoirs when compared to other sources of greenhouse gas emissions in Afghanistan. In addition, this paper includes the results of emissions of greenhouse gases of the Noghlu power dam in the Surobi district of Kabul. The Noghlu power dam has not been cleaned up in the last thirty years. It has deposited up to 15 meters of animal, vegetable, and trash. The deposits of these years have reached up to hundreds/thousands of ton. All the animal, vegetable, and trash materials that are transferred by the Kabul River from the Kabul city, from Maidan Wardak and Logar provinces by the Logar River, from Punjshir, Parwan, and Kapisa provinces through the Punjshir River, from Tagab and Alasai districts through the Tagab River are all transferred and settled in the Noghlu dam. As a result, these materials are converted to greenhouse gases of carbon dioxide and methane through aerobic and anaerobic oxidation.
Methanotrophic; Dam; Oxycline; Biogeochemistry; Aerobic and Unaerobic bacteria; Greenhouse gas
where the source of these gases is in the hydroelectric power station and
Greenhouse gases reach the atmosphere of a water reservoir or rivers
from different ways. When the water passes through the turbine, it releases a
lot of gases. The procedure of methanotroph causes the reduction of methane.
When compared to thermal power plants, the hydroelectric power plants add
and generate more greenhouse gases to the environment. Hydroelectric
reservoirs, especially those in the tropics, are an important human source of
greenhouse gas emissions.
In this paper, hydroelectric power plants which are more involved in
environmental pollutions in Afghanistan are presented with pictures. There
are also factors that have transformed these power suppliers into more
dangerous producers of greenhouse gases than any other sources of
greenhouse gas emission. This is as a result of incuriosity of people living in
proximity of these power stations and lack of attention from the government
officials. Another cause of this is the lack of public awareness on
urbanization. Therefore, this paper aims to provide solutions which will help
in reduction of greenhouse gas emission.
First: Afghanistan?s Hydroelectric Power Plant
In the midst of Mohammad Zahir Shah?s kingdom (1960-1966),
surveys began on the energy sources of Afghanistan. This includes the
construction of dams in order to produce electricity and other sources of
electricity like oil and gas. These sources of electricity include: Mahiper,
Sarobi, Naghlu, Kajaki, Daronta, Jabal Saraj, Parwan Power Plant,
Pul-eKhumri, Mazar-e-Sharif power and fertilization industry, Sarde Dam, and
Chak dam to name a few.
Afghanistan?s hydroelectric power plants include the following:
? Naghlu dam in Kabul province
? Qargha dam in Kabul province
? Shah wa Arus dam in Kabul province
? Sarobi dam in Kabul province
? Mahiper dam in Kabul province
? Daronta dam in Nengarhar province
? Band-e-Amir in Bamyan province: A total of six dams are called
Band-e-Amir: Band-e-Gholaman, Band-e-Qambar, Band-e-Haybat,
Band-e-Zulfiqar, Band-e-Podina, and Band-e-Panirak
? Kajaki dam in Helmand province
? Gereshk dam in Helmand province
? Dehla dam in Kandahar province
? Salma dam in Herat province
? Sarde dam in Ghazni province
? Sultan dam in Ghazni province
? Chak dam in Maidan Wardak province
? Sar-e-Hawz dam in Baghlan province
? Zenakhan dam in Baghlan province
? The Kunar dam may be completed in the next six years and it will
have a capacity of 300 MW
? The Manogi dam which is located in the Kunar province will be
completed in the next 4 years and it will have a capacity of 1000 MW
There are two dams of Afghanistan which are the main causes for
emission of greenhouse gases (Arez, 1361).
This dam is located within 80km of Kabul province with a capacity of
100 megawatts, and it is considered to be the major source of power
production. Its height is 110m and it is 280m long with a capacity of
The Naghlu dam was built during 1960-1968 by the Soviet Union over
Punjshir and Kabul rivers in the Sarobi district of Kabul province. The main
goal of building this dam is for the production of electric energy. The Naghlu
dam has 4 turbines. Thus, each turbine has a capacity of 25MW and a total
capacity of 100MW.
This power reservoir is built with a length of 280m, 110m height, and
with a storage capacity of 550 million cubed meters of water. Perhaps the
Naghlu power station could generate electric power for the five next years.
However, the severe crisis in the decrease of water storage capacity is
threatening the electricity supply of this dam. The serious challenges that are
facing the Naghlu dam include the risk of lack of power generation in the next
few years and the sediments that has been deposited at the bottom of the
Naghlu dam over the past 30 years. While designing a hydroelectric power
plant, the drainage system is built at the same level as the bowl of the dam in
order to discharge the dirt and deposits. The excessive materials that are
collected in the bowl will empty continuously over time by the drainage
system of the dam. This helps to protect the storage capacity of water in the
bowl. This is in addition to saving the turbine screens from damage.
The Naghlu power station also has a drain bowl as its drainage system.
Nevertheless, for the past 30 years, the drainage system of the bowl sediments
has been inactive, and the sediment has not been discharged.
Recently, World Bank prepared an Emergency Power Rehabilitation
Project (EPRP), and international experts on hydroelectric power plants have
conducted a study on the deposits of the Naghlu dam. According to this study,
40% of Naghlu dam?s bowl is occupied with sand and dirt (Sabaoon, 1396).
The Kabul River is one of the sources of the Naghlu power Dam which
are connected in the city of Kabul with a heavy load of materials. In many
months of the year, the Kabul River does not have enough water. Thousands
of cubic meters of materials and dirt are stored by people in the seabed (Figure
1). Thus, in the rainy seasons including March, April, and May, all of the
wastes of Kabul River are transferred to the Naghlu power plant and it is
stored there. In addition, the Logar River transfers animal and plant materials
from Maidan Wardak and Logar to the Lugar River during the rainy seasons.
The Punjshir River is one of the most important and permanent sources
of the Naghlu dam. The Jabel Saraj, Salang, and Ghorband Rivers are also
connected to the Punjshir River. They are connected to the Naghlu dam while
moving from Kapisa and Parwan provinces where they transfer animal and
plant materials themselves. The Tagab River is connected to the Naghlu dam
for three months during the rainy seasons. This river transfers materials
including plant materials while moving from the Ala Sai district to Naghlu
dam and it is stored there. However, the sediment deposits in the Naghlu dam
have reached its critical climax.
B) Kajaki Dam:
This dam is in Helmand province which is 161km to the northwest of
Kandahar with an area of 1800km square, a height of 100m, and a length of
270m. This dam has a capacity of and it was built during
19511953. In 1975, two generators were installed to this dam with a capacity of
16.5MW by the assistance of USAID. The Kajaki dam has a storage capacity
of 640 million cubic meters water, and it is able to produce 42MW of
electricity. The water supplies of the Kajaki power plant originate from areas
which transfer animal and plant materials to the dam. This has resulted in the
loss of 15% of water storage capacity in the bowl of the dam due to sediments.
However, through the biological, physical, and chemical processes of
the materials with the help of aerobic and anaerobic oxidation, the stored
materials of both hydroelectric dams and underwater stores has been converted
to greenhouse gases of carbon dioxide and methane. This has more greenhouse
effects when compared to the other sources of greenhouse gases, and it is
released to the atmosphere.
Second: Emission of Greenhouse Gases by the Hydroelectric Power
Plants of Afghanistan
Recent studies have shown that electricity generated by hydroelectric
reservoirs is not considered as neutral energy. This is because forest plants are
brought to the reservoirs by floods and then they perish. They are no longer
able to absorb carbon dioxide and the leaves are deposited to the reservoir
bed. The bacteria break down the organic material to produce carbon dioxide
in aerobic conditions. These gases can be released into space where they
increase human greenhouse gases which leads to global warming. Today, the
problem of greenhouse gases and their impact on global warming is an
important issue both in science and politics.
Carbon dioxide and methane are two important human
greenhouse gases. The key to dealing with these two greenhouse gases is that
the global warming potential of methane is 21 times longer than carbon
dioxide over a hundred year period. This means that methane is much
more harmful than carbon dioxide .
Water reservoirs plays an important role all over the world with
differences in terms of conditions, latitude, productivity, and the location of
water habitat. For example, ice, tropical climate, ways of connecting reservoir
storage, flood area, and etc. To explore the earth?s biochemistry, a major focus
is on a reservoir. For example, the Naghlu power plant and the images of the
two other power plants (Sarobi Kabul and Kajaki Helmand) can be viewed in
Third: The Emission of the Two Important Greenhouse Gases: Carbon dioxide and methane CH4 in Afghanistan
Emissions of greenhouse gases from hydroelectric power plants vary
according to the characteristics of each hydroelectric power plant. Greenhouse
gases of hydroelectric power stations are less produced in dry areas than the
wet areas. About 90% of the total greenhouse gases of methane and 40%
carbon dioxide are released from the reservoirs of the wet areas.
The emission of carbon dioxide gases is higher than methane
in both dry and wet areas. As can be seen, the emission of methane and
carbon dioxide is much higher in warm places than the cold ones. This is
in addition to the greater difference in the emission of greenhouse gases in
different regions. Weather changes in the area of a reservoir can also have a
significant effect on greenhouse gas emissions (Noristani, 1350).
The most important product of methane oxidation is the
methanotrophic bacteria oxidation. In fact, the global warming potential of
methane is more than carbon dioxide because of the amount of
carbon dioxide that is converted into mineral rocks. This is one of the positions
of a power plant where the oxidation of methane happens in its oxyclyne.
Hence, methane by reaching the Oxic conditions is released to the top where
the methanotrophic bacteria exist. These bacteria are stained with methane,
and it is oxidized to receive oxygen for referral energy.
Another position for methane oxidation is the sediments where there
is enough oxygen available. This is the reason why the places including under
the lakes, the water in the lowest layer of the nonfreezing lakes, are cold and
have a low amount of oxygen. This is where the reaction of methane oxidation
takes place. For this reason, carbon dioxide is used for its first product under
the lake such as the dive of carbon dioxide.
Researches have recently been made by the International Committee
on Climate Change (IPCC) on the use of methane and carbon dioxide. Based
on this assessment, the effect of methane in global warming is 72 times higher
than carbon dioxide over the course of 20 years which is 25 times more in the
period of a hundred years. The Global Warming Potential (GWP) by the IPCC
has proven that the one-year-long methane radiation from a large power plant
affects the warming of a hundred years. This is equal to 2.6 billion tons of
The methane oxidation happens with the help of methanotrophic
bacteria. Equation (
With the help of genetic bacteria, the methane combines with glucose
and carbon dioxide.
As a result of decomposition under the Oxic conditions, glucose
converts to carbon dioxide, water, and energy.
Decomposition takes place in the absence of air or non Oxic with the
help of nonaerobic bacteria or methanogenetic. The following reaction of
The methane produced by methanogenesis is transformed again into
water and carbon dioxide, equation (
) (Kohistany 1395).
Some other factors, such as physical and chemical parameters of
water in a hydroelectric power plant, also play an important role in greenhouse
emissions and its release to the earth's atmosphere. Under the aerobic
conditions in a hydroelectric power plant, gases such as the Nitrous oxide or
laughing gas can also be produced. Nitrous oxide or laughing gas is
another greenhouse gas which can also be emitted to the atmosphere. In this
paper, more explanation has not been given due to unavailable required
statistics about nitrous (Bahram 2007).
In addition, all the soft organic materials which are stored at a great
quantity at the bottom of Naghlu power plant are dissolved by bacteria as long
as oxygen exists there and they produce carbon dioxide. In the lower layer of
the non-frozen lakes (hypolimnion), other oxidants are used instead of oxygen
such as n , sulfate ion , and carbon
dioxide . On the other hand, on the surface layer of the non-frozen lakes
(epilimnion oxic), there is dissolved oxygen which can oxidize the organic
material. In layers of soil, oxidation occurs by the methanogenic bacteria
because there is no oxygen in soil layers of lakes and power plants. Vegetable
materials such as leaves, shrubs, and plants are mainly decomposed in the first
three years after flooding. Vegetable materials with high cellulose levels such
as tree trunks (boles) are dissolved by microorganisms such as fungi. Thus,
the trunks of the tree boles can remain in a hydroelectric power plant for up to
100 years. In addition, water flooding contains a certain amount of organic
carbon. This amount of carbon depends on the type of soil and the type of
carbon?s quality. Due to the fact that the peat saves a large amount of carbon
and it is produced in the electric power plants, such soils have a high potential
for greenhouse gas emissions in the electric dams (Shirzad 1397).
Water reservoirs, in addition to their biological effects on the
environment, such as the destruction of the flooded area play an important role
on greenhouse gas emissions in the air. Water reservoirs have the potential for
a lot of greenhouse gas emissions, such as carbon dioxide and methane
which has a significant contribution to global warming.
Decomposition of the organic materials is the main reason for emission
of greenhouse gases. The importance of different organic material sources can
change the age and life of the reservoir. They also depend on the climate of
the area in which the reservoir is constructed.
There are many ways in which greenhouse gases are emitted into the
environment. Studies show that emissions of greenhouse gases, particularly
methane and carbon dioxide , occurs from the surface of the water
reservoirs. In addition, most greenhouse gases are also released in the turbines
of a water reservoir where the water flows into the river.
Most importantly, methane is oxidized by the methanotrophic
bacteria which is a key factor in reducing the amount of methane released
to the atmosphere. These are the ways to minimize greenhouse gas emissions
in a hydroelectric reservoir. Nonetheless, there is still a need for further
research in this area.
The best source of energy is the energy of the sun. The energy of the
sun is the first energy source for animals and plants and its energy lasts for an
infinite period which does not have any side effects. Also, it does not pollute
To prevent the emissions of the greenhouse gases, the following steps must be taken:
The sediment discharge system of the Naghlu power plant must be
regenerated and re-activated. The bottom of the reservoir and its sediment
must be washed, and the sediments should be regularly discharged and
controlled. Due to the proximity of the Naghlu and Sarobi power lines,
sediment discharge must be carried out simultaneously on both power lines. A
permanent solution must also be chosen for the dust in the Kabul River. If the
above items are not carried out within the next five years, the turbine blades
of Naghlu power plant will be destroyed by particles of sand and other surplus
materials. As a result, the turbine will not be able to work anymore. The
storage capacity of the Naghlu bowl will severely decrease, and Naghlu will
be converted into the Dipper Dam.
Similarly, the release of two important greenhouse gases, methane and
carbon dioxide has also increased. They also produce the most greenhouse
gases than any other sources of greenhouse gas emissions, such as thermal
power generation, transport, bricks manufacturing, and cement production
1. In Afghanistan, the weather is mostly sunny. Therefore, solar energy
is very economical and it can be used since it is free from
2. Electric reservoirs should be built in areas where water has not crossed
between fields and forests.
3. Metal joints should be used at the seamounts (water sources) while also
removing the vegetable and animal materials from the metal joints
from time to time.
4. The responsibility of all residents living on the waterway side of these
livestock is to refrain from throwing garbage in the rivers.
1. Arez Ghulam Gailany ( 1361 ). General Geography of Afghanistan, Kabul University. pp. 45 - 78 .
2. Bahram Ghulam , M. ( 2007 ). Agricultural Program Planning . Kabul University. Kabul University Press. pp. 1 - 3 .
3. Kohistany Nesar Ahmad ( 1395 ). Environmental Protection, Kabul University. pp. 105 - 1021 .
4. Noristany Akbar , M. ( 1350 ). General Geography of Afghanistan, Kabul University. pp. 33 - 42 .
5. Sabaoon Naseem , M. ( 1396 ). Afghanistan Recognition , 2nd volume, Police Academy of Kabul . p. 27 .
6. Shirzad Dawood , M. ( 1397 ). Statute of Environment. Kabul University. pp. 15 - 27 .