By Ofeliya Afandiyeva
Clean environment is what modern civilization needs urgently. Conservation of natural resources, clean air and at the same time ensuring future generations’ energy security. How can one combine these factors? Azerbaijan is presently looking for answers to these questions. A formula is being developed that will not only help avoid putting energy security and ecology on conflicting positions but will also create conditions for using the opportunities bestowed upon our country by the nature.
We are talking about alternative energy sources - the Sun, the wind, which Azerbaijan is rich in.
Alternative energy is the future of mankind. It is no coincidence that one of the main topics of the 50th World Economic Forum in Davos was the ecological situation in the world and climate changes that have lead to global warming. One of the ways to solve the problem is the transition to the environmentally friendly alternative energy.
It should be noted that there is no problem with energy supply in Azerbaijan. Even more - in the report of the Davos Forum, our country ranks second in the world in terms of energy availability. Azerbaijan is open to innovative ideas. Today, it has chosen the course towards the implementation of alternative energy, and this process is supported at the highest level.
On December 5, 2019, President Ilham Aliyev signed a decree “Actions for implementing pilot projects on the use of renewable energy sources”.
“Early this year, two large companies signed relevant agreements with Azerbaijan on the construction in our country of new wind and solar power plants with a capacity of 440 megawatts. Work will begin this year and funds will be allocated for these purposes through the state. Thus, the generating capacities, power lines, transformers, substations, the entire electric network will fully meet international standards,” President Ilham Aliyev said while addressing engineers at the opening ceremony of the Dubendi substation in Absheron.
The contracts that Aliyev mentioned were signed by the Azerbaijani Ministry of Energy on the implementation of pilot projects on alternative energy with ACWA Power (Saudi Arabia) and Masdar (UAE) companies - both have considerable reputation in the global energy sector. Thus, ACWA Power's renewable energy production portfolio is 8,000 megawatts, and the production capacities created by Masdar in this field are estimated at 4,000 megawatts.
Under the conditions of the contracts, ACWA Power will build a 240 megawatts wind farm, and Masdar will build a 200 megawatts solar power plant. These stations are expected to become the largest in the region of their kind and will produce a total of 1.400,000,000 kWh of electricity annually.
In 2018, a memorandum was signed between BP-Azerbaijan and the Ministry of Energy of Azerbaijan in order to jointly study the potential for the development of renewable energy. As part of the memorandum last year, a special team was set up in London and Baku to develop a relevant project. BP has already submitted a commercial proposal to the Azerbaijani government. By the way, analysts pay special attention to the fact that the implementation of projects related to alternative energy will contribute to the increase of investment attractiveness of the country.
In early February, at the conference on the results of the implementation of the State Program on Development of Regions, the head of state touched upon the issue of using renewable energy sources. “Now in several countries, especially those not rich in natural resources, similar projects are being implemented. Our policy is as follows: despite the fact that we have both oil and gas, we should use renewable energy in order to use them economically and to direct them more to exporting. Especially when you consider that we have plenty of sun and wind, "President Ilham Aliyev stated.
Total economic potential of alternative energy sources in Azerbaijan is estimated at 26.900 megawatts, including solar energy – 23,000 megawatts, wind energy – 3,000 megawatt, hydropower - 520 megawatts, bioenergy - 380 megawatts. At the same time, the share of renewable energy sources, including hydropower resources, in the total primary energy consumption is still 18 percent. However, according to the Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources of Azerbaijan, Mukhtar Babayev, it is planned to raise this figure to 30 percent by 2030.
In general, Azerbaijan will implement more than 20 projects in the field of alternative and renewable energy with a total cost of about $7,6 million. This includes projects for the construction of wind, hydro and biofuel power plants with a total capacity of 4200 megawatts, which will be able to generate 11,937 kwH of electricity per year. The opening of these plants will save 2,986,000 cubic meters of gas per year, and significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere.
Over the past 5 years, much has been done in Azerbaijan for the implementation of alternative electricity.
Soon, through the Azerenerji, the construction of a new wind farm should begin. Recently, a plant with a capacity of 50 megawatts was commissioned. The generating capacity of the second plant will be 84 megawatts.
In December 2015, a solar power station was opened in the Babek district of the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic. Today, the Nakhchivan solar power plant annually generates more than 30 million kilowatt-hours of electricity and plays an important role in supplying the region with local resources.
In October 2018, the opening of the 50 megawatts Yeni Yashma Wind Power Park took place on the territory of the Yeni Yashma and Shurabad villages of the Khizi district. Yeni Yashma Wind Power Park was reconstructed by the German company Berlin Wind. There are 20 wind turbines installed, giving about 9 million kWh per month.
In 2019, small solar power plants appeared in the Shirvan and Gizilaghaj national parks. Solar panels were installed with the support of the Japanese corporation ITOCHU Corporation. As the director of the Department of Biological Diversity and Specially Protected Natural Areas of the Ministry Hikmet Alizadeh noted in an interview with reporters, in the future it is planned to transfer other specially protected natural territories to alternative energy sources. This decision is motivated by the fact that the use of alternative energy sources contributes to the protection of nature.
In general, Azerbaijan has great potential in terms of the development of alternative electric power. Particularly great potential is possessed by the sun and wind, which in the country, and especially in Absheron, exist almost all year round. Absheron peninsula is particularly favorable for wind farms. Also in this regard, the Ganja-Dashkesen zone and the Sharur-Julfa region of the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic are favorable. Back in 1999, the Japanese company Tomen, together with Azerbaijani scientists, determined that the average annual wind speed on Absheron was 7.9-8.1 m / s, and a feasibility study was prepared for the installation of windmills with a total capacity of 30 megawatts in Gobustan region.
With regard to the potential of solar energy, according to experts, the number of sunshine hours in Azerbaijan is 2400-3200 hours during the year, which means that we have more sun rays falling on the territory of the country than in other countries. Surprisingly, Azerbaijan turned out to be the sunniest country in this regard. And therefore, we can with full certainty talk about the high potential of using solar energy to solve energy problems in the regions.
Biomess can be sited as another source of alternative electricity. This word is associated with the world of science fiction. But in reality, biomass is industrial waste - waste from forestry and the timber industry, crops, municipal solid waste, waste in areas contaminated with oil and oil products. According to experts, the available volumes of biomass can be successfully used to heat houses in large industrial centers of the country.
In Spring, Azerbaijan will host an auction on the implementation of projects in the field of renewable energy sources, the Chairman of the Management Board of the Energy Regulatory Agency revealed in October 2019. The auction is planned to be held in 8 pre-selected geographical areas. Five of them are intended for wind energy and three for solar energy.
The auction is intended for foreign investors and is likely to attract foreign companies in Azerbaijan’s alternative energy sector.
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