Hopefully, the fish will soon be growing faster and bigger under a new renewable energy project at a private fish farm near the village of Hovtashat in Armenia’s Ararat Valley. The project was developed with the help of the ME&A-led, United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Advanced Science & Partnerships for Integrated Resource Development (ASPIRED). Under ASPIRED, ME&A collaborates with the USAID/U.S. Global Development Lab/Center for Data, Analysis, and Research (DAR), the U.S. Geological Survey and other relevant institutions to pilot innovative technologies for water conservation and fish farms; establish transformational partnerships; and promote evidence- and science-based water resource monitoring, planning and management. In addition, ME&A also works with the private sector, academia and other donors to leverage their resources and expertise in the Armenian water and energy sector.
USAID/Armenia awarded ASPIRED to ME&A in 2015 as a task order under the Water and Development Indefinite Delivery Indefinite Quantity Contract (WADI) providing the USAID Bureau for Economic Growth, Education, and Environment with services and technical support to assist USAID’s Missions, Bureaus, and Offices worldwide in the implementation of the Agency’s Water and Development Strategy. ME&A assists the Government of Armenia in developing consistent policy and technical solutions for a more regulated use of the nation’s vital groundwater resources. ASPIRED will assist the fishery with installation of a 30-kilowatt photovoltaic system aimed at minimizing the fishery’s energy consumption.
Since purchasing the fishery in 2019, owner Artyom Torosyan has made critical improvements to apply water-saving technologies for more efficient use of water and reduced energy consumption. In consultation with the ASPIRED engineering team, Mr. Torosyan introduced a water recirculation system that replicates the technologies piloted by the ASPIRED Project at the government’s Aquaculture Technologies Transfer Center.
Mr. Torosyan’s fishery uses air lift pumps for enriching water with oxygen and passive settlers for sludge removal. However, recirculation technologies consume more energy, and this increases production costs. That is where the solar application comes in. Use of the solar voltaic system is an environmentally friendly alternative to compensate for extra energy costs of aerators and recirculation pumps.
The farm produces about 90 tons of fish annually and uses only 40 liters of water per second. The production rate is 2.25 tons of fish for the water flow of one liter/second, which is nearly three times more fish than the industry accepted standard of 800 kilograms. The energy saving is estimated to be 46 megawatt hours annually while the total energy consumption of the fishery is about 350 megawatt hours annually. By reducing energy consumption while increasing the output of fish, the farm is contributing in a small but sustainable way to confront the challenge of climate change.