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close this bookSustainable Energy News - No. 12 March 1996 (INFORSE, 1996)
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Renewable Energy Sources in Mongolia

By Bolormaa Batsukh from IRE Mongolia presently at the Folkcenter for Renewable Energy, Denmark

Mongolia is a land-locked country of approximately 1,6 million square kilometres sandwiched between Russia and China. The population is only 2.5 million, of which half live in the rural areas and mainly are nomadic livestock herders. Around 198,500 Mongolian families in rural areas rely on animal husbandry. The livestock population is more than 28 million, comprised mainly of horses, cattle, yaks, sheep, goats, and, in the Gobi, also camels. The most rural families are dependent on (fuel wood or) cattle dung and candles for their cooking, heating, and lighting energy.

The needs for electricity in the rural areas are obvious, and there are no methods of producing or supplying electricity to these areas other than by means of small diesel or gasoline generators (Honda). Due to lack of infrastructure (electricity lines) and the widespread population, renewable energy systems have extremely good potential for improving the lifestyle and welfare of the herders and their families in rural areas.


Mongolia is rich in renewable resources. Over the last ten years, maps have been made of Mongolia marking the solar and wind-energy potential of selected rural areas. The Institute for Renewable Energy (IRE), a member of the Global Renewable Energy and Ecology Centres for Action (GREECA), is the key institution for Research and Development of renewable energy sources in Mongolia.

The IRE was founded in 1985 and is headed by Chadraa Baataryn, vicepresident of the Mongolian Academy of Sciences. The main IRE building is located in Ulaanbaatar, and the institute's testing sites of wind, biogas, solar facilities are in a suburb, Central Aimak, about'90 km far from the Capital city. Today, the IRE belongs to the Ministry of Energy and gets all of its funds from the Ministry of Science and Education.


Mongolia has significant potential for biogas, in the form of 10 million tons of cattle dung per year. Four simple pilot digesters for cold climates with volumes of 1, 5, 40, 100 cubic meters, respectively, have been built and installed by IRE in Mongolia for demonstration purposes. Large-scale use of biogas has been considered as option at cattle farms, but the breakdown of the state co-operatives presents institutional problems in introducing the technology. As the private livestock herders' companies become larger and more organized, the single farm biogas plants may be considered by such groups, if they are convinced of the usefulness of such technology. However, there is a much greater gain to be made by installing simple rural household plants to be operated on cattle manure.

Solar Water.Heaters

Mongolia has about 300 sunny days per year, from which the solar radiation received is about 1,000 W/m . The Institute of Renewable Energy is the centre of expertise on solar energy in Mongolia and has developed, fabricated, and disseminated 5 types of solar water heaters.

Activity peaked in 1991, when more than 2000 m of solar collectors were manufactured and installed in tourist centres, children's pioneer camps, and sports centres that are occupied only in the summer. The production in 1993 had fallen considerably as a result of the difficult economic climate.

Solar PV

The Ministry of Energy,Mining and Geology distributed 3000 small photovoltaic lighting systems imported from China. Each unit comprised an 11Wp amorphous silicon module manufactured by Harbin Chronar of China and a Chinese manufactured lantern unit These lightning units were modified by the IRE to incorporate rechargable batteries and output for powering radios.

More recently, the IRE, in collaboration with the Japanese government is evaluating some 200-PV systems for livestock-herding families. Each system includes a 204-Wp PV array, a 200 Ah battery, and an inverter, which allows the use of standard domestic appliances such as 18-W fluorescent lamps, 75-W colour TV sets knife sharpeners, etc.


Mongolia has significant wind energy resources. In almost every part of the steppe region, the average annual wind speed is no less than 5 m/sec., while mean wind speeds of 5-6.5 m/sec are available in the Gobi region. Wind energy is a practical and economical solution for the nomadic families and at bag-centres. A bag is the lowest level in the Mongolian administrative system and is the service unit closest to the nomadic livestock herders.

The most significant recent development of wind energy in Mongolia is the introduction of the 50-Watt MONMAR battery charger. This product was the result of a successful technology transfer which took place from 1989 to 1992 via the British company MARLEC Engineering Co. Ltd., and the Mongolian enterprise, MONMAR Engineering Co. Ltd.

More than 2000 units have been installed for use by herdsmen all over the country during the last 4 years. The 2000 MONMAR windmills represent an installed capacity of 100 kW, but there are no large-scale commercial wind turbines installed in the country.

Future Projects:

Given the large potential for renewable energy, the main purposes of future activities on sustainable energy in Mongolia will be:

· Fund-raising for projects such as those listed below.

· Implementation of one Danish type farm biogas plant (with the Folkecenter for Renewable Energy).

· Implementation of 5-8 super-insulated small-scale household biogas plants (INSEDA, India, see p. 9)

· Assessment of other prospects for the use of biogas plants.

The Project for Technology Transfer of Small Stand-Alone Wind Systems (1-5 kW).

More Info: Dr. Chadroa Baataryn at the Institute for Renewable Energy (IRE), P.O Box 52/40, 210152 Ulaonbautar, Mongolia, ph/fax: 976-1342377/-342377; or, at the Mongolian Academy of Sciences, Sukhbautar Square 3, Uluanbautar, Mongolia. Ph/fax: +976-1-327827,fax, +976-1321638.