Recently Ayb School started using solar water heaters, so we asked Mr. Aram Pakhchanyan, Director of Ayb School, about their experience of working with solar technologies, benefits and possible issues, as well as potential of solar power development in Armenia
Ayb School is progressive in everything, including application of new technologies. Recently you installed a solar water heater. Did you make the decision more for ideological or economical reasons?
Ayb school is an environment for ideas in the first place, we strive not just to succeed, but also to share the success and be an example. Inefficient examples wouldn’t work, however that is not the case here – we definitely gained even higher efficiency compared with an ordinary apartment. Placing natural gas boilers in the schools is prohibited, so the boiler room should be located outside. Pumping hot water to the longer distances means higher thermal loss in the pipeline, especially when the consumption of hot water is relatively low.
So is the investment justified?
Absolutely. In winter, however, when cloudy days are more frequent, the amount of hot water doesn’t satisfy our need, that is why we think of installing the second solar water heater. We only postpone it because of the new building construction being underway as all funding from our sponsors goes to financing the construction. The new building, by the way, will definitely have solar water heaters installed.
Are the students aware of this technology?
We have a course of Ecology at the school which includes various topics related to energy efficiency. It can be dangerous to take the students to the roof where the solar water heater is located, so we don’t have the opportunity to show them how in works in practice. However, I think most of them are aware that the school uses this kind of technology.
Renewable energy and energy efficiency are discussed widely today. How can an average citizen practically benefit from it? Is it affordable at all?
I think solar water heaters should become a common thing on our roofs, since the payback is very short. Moreover, it’s not just a matter of payback. Use of solar water heaters gives psychological freedom too, since the cost of hot water becomes equal to the cost of cold water. Admittedly, there is an investment, and the equipment has its cost, however it doesn’t “wear out” from more water heated, so if previously when taking a bath you would be cautious not to waste too much hot water, now, especially in hot summer days, you are free to enjoy the pleasure of freshness brought by several showers a day without any worry.
What is the perspective of solar energy in Armenia?
It shouldn’t be limited to only water heating, solar power becomes more and more affordable each year. On the other hand, energy saving LED lamps, which provide the same amount of light, and consume ten times less than traditional lamps become more popular. If the authorities take this seriously and initiate stimulation projects (for example, by introducing preferential loans), significant part of Armenian territory will be secured with electricity, thanks to big number of sunny days and quite warm weather throughout the year. At the same time construction requirements and criteria should be reviewed to ensure that new and renovated buildings comply with high standards of energy-efficiency. I believe that the alternative to Metsamor nuclear power plant is not constructing new power plants, but reducing energy consumption and developing solar energy.