By Kamila Aliyeva
Growing energy demand and environmental problems associated with production of traditional energy have pushed the mankind to seek other ways of obtaining it -- using renewable sources of energy which tend to have much lower emissions.
Azerbaijan, the country rich with hydrocarbons, also aims to ensure the development of the alternative energy and make the use of renewable sources as widespread as possible. The country has adopted a number of measures to advance this area. Under the leadership of the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, the state program for the development of this type of energy until 2020 is being successfully implemented.
Recently, Azerbaijan conducted financial and profit-loss analyzes to determine the most appropriate forms and locations of renewable energy installations. The findings and assumptions reflected that the electricity generation from renewable energy sources with existing electricity tariffs is profitable for investors.
The State Agency on Alternative and Renewable Energy Sources of Azerbaijan has determined areas, capacities, amounts to be invested in producing 4,200 megawatts in 2018-2020 and other required information.
In the coming years, the agency plans to implement 23 projects worth about 13 million manats as part of the Strategic Roadmap for the Development of Public Utilities (Electric and Thermal Energy, Water and Gas).
The projects include construction of wind, hydro and biofuel power plants with a total capacity of 4,200 megawatts. This is while 3,500 megawatts will account for wind power plants, 500 megawatts for solar power plants, and 200 megawatts will account for biofuel power plants. The cost of building wind power plants will be 10.2 million manats, solar - 1.48 million manats, and biofuel - 1.16 million manats.
The power plants will be able to generate 11,937 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year. The implementation of these projects will help achieve natural gas savings of 2.986 million cubic meters of gas per year, as well as significantly reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere.
Meanwhile, Azerbaijan also intends to be a business player on the alternative energy market by exporting solar panels.
Azerbaijan is preparing to export more modern solar panels to the international market, Deputy Director of the State Agency for Alternative and Renewable Energy Sources Jamil Melikov told Trend.
Taking into account the appearance of modern solar panels, it makes no sense to supply the old type panels to the international market, since no one will buy them, he noted.
“Therefore, in order to move forward we must first apply new technologies, set up the production of modern and high-performance solar panels, and only thereafter enter the markets of neighboring and other countries,” Melikov said.
The issue of modernization of the plant for the production of solar panels of Azguntex company is on the agenda, he said.
“It is not yet possible to specify the dates when the work in this direction will be completed, as the discussion of contracts and the definition of the amount of funds required for this work continue now. It is necessary to agree with the technology supplier, to determine commercial conditions and on this basis, to supply the necessary equipment,” Melikov said.
The modernization of production will allow for increasing the power capacity of the panels from 250 to 330 watts. New solar panels will be able to accumulate more solar energy.
The work is estimated at 150,000-200,000 euros. The annual capacity of the plant after modernization will grow from 25 to 60-65 megawatts. The two production lines with a capacity of 100,000 panels per year will operate after completion of the modernization.
The Azguntex plant, producing solar panels, has been operating since April 2012. The service life of the produced solar panels is 30-40 years. The solar panels manufactured at the Azguntex plant will be used on two new solar power plants set to be commissioned in Azerbaijan in the near future
Presently, solar power plants in Azerbaijan operate in the cities of Gobustan and Samukh, the Baku settlements of Pirallahi and Surakhani. The power plant in Baku’s Sahil settlement is fully ready for operation. After the start of its operation, it is also planned to commission a similar solar power plant in Sumgait city, where the work has almost been completed.
Today, the share of alternative energy sources in the electricity supply of Azerbaijan is 9.5 percent. In recent years, the development of renewable energy sources in Azerbaijan, the largest South Caucasus state on the Caspian shore, has been in the focus of attention.
Currently, the country is able to fully meet its own energy needs, and seeks to supply power to the European market.
Azerbaijan was able to build a strong power system in less than 20 years, conducting reconstruction and renovation of old generating capacities and creating new ones.
The energy rich country generates power through hydroelectric, wind and solar power plants, as well as biogas installations. At the moment, the capacity of Azerbaijan’s electricity system exceeds 12,000 megawatt. The total potential of renewable energy sources exceeds 25,300 megawatt.
A major part of the country’s capacity in this area accounts for solar energy, while its potential is estimated at 5,000 megawatts. Some 4,500 megawatts accounts for wind power, 1,500 megawatts -- for biomass, 800 megawatts -- for geothermal energy, and the remaining 350 megawatts -- for the small hydro power plants (HPP).
In January 2013, Azerbaijan announced the plan to raise investments in alternative energy by over $7 billion by 2020, and increase total renewable capacity to 2,000 MW or 20 percent of the nation’s overall power needs.
To export surplus electricity, Azerbaijan eyes several major projects, including the Energy Bridge Azerbaijan-Georgia-Turkey, which will allow Azerbaijan to export to Europe about 700 MW of electricity a year.