Moderator   •   almost 2 years ago

Problem Statement 15-19: "Build a model to analyze energy, environmental (water), and economic (E3) data for a minimum of 3 micro-hydro technologies used at aquaculture farms."

NOTE: This is a featured problem statement. Featured problem statements have been qualified for post-Fishackathon engagement by both the submitting party and by our expert panel. While all of the submitted problem statements qualify for the prizes, these have vetted for contunuation beyond the event itself.

There are many micro-hydro technologies available from international manufacturers that may be suitable for application at Armenian fish farms. However, micro-hydro technologies installed at Armenian fish farms should be sustainable from energy, environmental, and economic (E3) perspectives. The technology should: produce enough energy to power aerators and other on-site energy consuming devices; facilitate water and energy conservation; and be economically feasible for average Armenian fish farm owners.

An E3 analysis of micro-hydro options for Armenian fish farms will require data gathering on pressure and flow rates for fish farms to estimate the energy that could be generated with a micro-hydro system. Data will also need to be gathered from equipment manufacturers and local installers on costs to import and install the technologies. USAID Armenia has some of this information already and is able to access more detailed information through current networks, fish farms, and the Fish Farm Association.

Problem Statement
Build a simple model to analyze energy, environmental (water), and economic data; populate the model with data specific to Armenian fish farms and micro-hydro technologies; and use the model to analyze at least three micro-hydro technologies applied to at least five Armenian fish farms and weigh the options against E3 factors. The output must be an easy-to-understand matrix of fish farms and micro-hydro technologies ranked by suitability. The model must be simple and accessible. The resulting model and output will be used by USAID Armenia as part of its Advanced Science & Partnerships for Integrated Resource Development (ASPIRED) program Science, Technology, Innovation & Partnerships (STIP) Signature Effort, under which at least two technologies with the objective of increasing energy efficiency and/or renewable energy generation will be developed, piloted, and evaluated. The analysis provided by the Fishackathon team will feed directly into the site and technology selection process for those pilot projects.

Additional Background
According to Yale University’s Environmental Performance Index, 70% of Armenia is under water stress, which impacts economic development and threatens livelihoods, food and energy security. Addressing groundwater resources in the Ararat Valley is a matter of utmost urgency as expressed by the Government of Armenia (GOA) and other stakeholders.

Water shortages are exacerbated by the growing groundwater demands by fish farmers in Armenia. Fish is one of few net export commodities for Armenia, making it a valuable industry for the country. However, increased unregulated water use causes significant pressures on available resources. Currently Armenian fish farms produce about 11,000 tons of fish annually and the Ministry of Agriculture’s strategy calls for increasing output to 25,000 tons. In 2013, groundwater use by fish farms exceeded sustainable levels, and the total use by all sectors in Ararat Valley was 1.6 times the level of available resources. Many water users self-report their water use, meters are easily tampered with, and illegal fish farms appear overnight.

Armenia possesses few raw materials, has no direct access to fossil energy, and imports over 80 percent of total energy resources, mostly from Russia. Fish farms present an opportunity to explore the energy-water nexus because they have significant water flow, both from the well and from cascading water from higher pools to lower pools at which it is possible to install micro-hydro electricity generators. Electricity produced from micro-hydro systems at fish farms could be used to power on-site aeration, lighting, heating, cooling, or other purposes. Micro-hydro systems would assist Armenia in achieving greater energy independence and security.

The GOA is reluctant to set policies without better understanding of the fish farm industry. A lack of understanding of the current state of aquifers and lack of reliable monitoring and geospatial data impedes enforcement and response from the government. Thus donors like USAID face challenges about how and where to focus resources. Lack of data to inform responsible water planning and permitting means that groundwater extraction will continue to occur at unsustainable levels.

Core Category

Organization Name

Organization Address
Embassy of USA, 1 American Ave, Yerevan, Armenia

Organization Point of Contact (Name)
Patrick Meyer

Organization Point of Contact (Title)
Science & Technology Advisor

Organization Point of Contact (Email Address)

Focus Area

Solution Category


  •   •   almost 2 years ago

    Possible sources of data for this challenge include:
    • Armenian National Statistical Service.
    • The Global Trade Analysis Project (GTAP) database -- global database describing bilateral trade patterns, production, consumption and intermediate use of commodities and services. GTAP-8 contains some specific data about the Armenian economy, produced using official data provided by Armenian Ministries and Departments including the National Statistical Service, the Customs Authorities, and the Tax Authorities.
    • World Development Indicators -- provided by World Bank, 60 different time series of development-related indicators for Armenia, dating back to 1990. All data appears to be at the country-level, not disaggregated into regions.
    • -- open educational resource with a variety of country-level indicators for Armenia.
    • National Statistical Service of Armenia -- provides some national-level statistical data. Links to a lot of original publications by the NSSA, most of which are in Armenian and Russian.
    • Global Footprint Network -- estimates of “ecological footprint” and “biocapacity” for Armenia, dating back to 1991. They have some more explanation of how these measures can be used in assessments of sovereign credit risk. Data is at the country level, without any regional disaggregation.
    • PennEnergy Research -- report with 50 data series on supply & demand of oil, gas, coal and power, with annual figures from 1990 until 2009.
    • -- page on “Planning a Microhydro System” gives a simple description of how to assess whether a site is suitable for microhydro energy generation. The discussion focuses on micro-hydro energy from streams, not artesian wells. I’m not sure how one would estimate the pressure and flow rate from an artesian well to get at the potential amount of energy available.
    • Lucid Energy -- company developing in-pipe turbines that generate energy from flowing water in municipal pipes. They recently installed a demonstration project in Portland that should be able to power about 150 homes.

  •   •   almost 2 years ago

    Q: How many fish farms are there in Armenia's Ararat Valley?
    A: Total farms = about 267; Total farms in operation = about 190.

    Q: How many wells for fish farms in the Ararat Valley?
    A: For fishery purposes, the Ministry of Nature Protection has issued permits for 576 wells for intake of 43,154.1 l/s or 43.2 m3/s, or 1,362.3 Mm3/year. About 470 of these are in operation, plus another approx. 44 that are pumping water.

    Q: What is the total fish production of Armenia, in tons per year?
    A: More than 11,500 tons; roughly two-thirds of this production is generated by a small group of 20 to 25 farms in the Ararat Valley.

    Q: Types of fish grown?
    A: Mostly cold temperature species, including sturgeon and trout, but with some catfish grown in larger, less water-demanding farms.

    Q: Water sources?
    A: Nearly all fish farms use artesian ground water, which does not need to be pumped. Only a very few farms have experienced complete loss of their artesian water source, at which point they then need to start pumping groundwater to supply their farms.

    Q: Artesian water source characteristics?
    A: Typical temperature = 13 degrees Celsius; typically oxygen = saturated w/ ~10 mg/L dissolved oxygen; typical total dissolved mineral content = ~1000 mg/L, typical suspended solids = 0 mg/L (i.e., very clear water); typical trace water contamination with ammonia-nitrogen, phosphorus, etc. = quite low

    Q: Artesian water well pressure head?
    A: The ambient artesian pressure head has been dropping over the past few years, and also depends upon the location of the farms and wells within the valley due to associated variations in the sub-surface layering of the valley's complex, folded tectonic bedrock conformation. Past artesian pressure heads measured at several meters in head are now believed to have dropped to 1 to 2 meter levels, although these ambient pressure head levels are variable from farm to farm relative to site specific plant elevation, and subsurface conformation of the highly stratified artesian groundwater layers.

    Q: Water consumption rates?
    A: Highly varied. Large farms may be using 0.75 to over 1 cubic meters per second. Small farms will be using much less water, at 0.05 and even lower cubic meters per second.

    Q: Typical farm configuration?
    A: Single-pass tanks, front to back flow schemes, with limited to nil water recycle. Tanks depths usually about 1.5 meters.

    Q: Typical farm construction?
    A: Large systems usually built with concrete wall and floor construction. Smaller farms usually built with bermed earthen tanks.

    Q: Typical farm operational technologies?
    A: A small number, i.e., the very largest fish farms, are fitted with real-time water consumption instrumentation (i.e., typically ultrasonic flow meters), plus real-time temperature monitoring, plus real-time dissolved oxygen analyzers, plus mechanical water aeration equipment. Most smaller to mid-size farms have no on-line instrumentation, and may at best use portable analyzers to measure flow or temperature or dissolved oxygen levels.

    Q: Typical farm water treatment technologies?
    A: Only a few of the very large farms may be using water filtration. The vast majority of farms do not have any sort of water treatment technology.

    Q: Post-farm reuse of fish farm water discharge?
    A: Very, very infrequently, perhaps in conjunction with local farmland or orchard irrigation. Almost all farms directly discharge their effluent waters directly to surface discharge channels/streams.

    Q: What happens to the fish produced in these farms?
    A: A few of the smaller farms may handle their own fish processing and local sales. The majority of farms appear to sell their mature fish to larger handlers...who may also be large fish farm operators...through which these fish are processed, distributed, and marketed.

    Q: Fish farm energy consumption?
    A: Small farms may have no energy consumption whatsoever, assuming that their water supply is artesian in origin. Aeration hardware may represent the highest energy demand for those farms using such technology, using a wide range of rotating surface brushes, paddles, fountains, jet pumps, etc., and will have power demand levels ranging from ~100+ to ~1000+ Watts.

    Q: Secondary value-added fish farm production?
    A: Larger farms may generate sturgeon caviar as a value-added product to complement conventional fish production. These farms require a more advanced farm configuration suited to growing selected female sturgeon to far higher maturity levels reaching approximately 8 to 12 years in age.

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