By Ayya Lmahamad
Azerbaijan is seriously committed to promoting alternative energy and bringing its share in total energy production to 30 percent by 2030.
This statement sounds quite achievable, as Azerbaijan is one of the countries, rich in renewable energy sources. To date, the share of alternative energy in the country’s total energy production is about 17 percent.
In recent years, global climate challenges and the green energy strategies of the world’s leading countries have had a significant impact on the energy sector.
Nowadays, all experts agree that renewable energy sources will play a very important and possibly key role in the future energy mix.
On this path, Azerbaijan signed agreements with various international companies and institutions.
In this context, in January 2020, implementation agreements on the pilot projects in the renewable energy field were signed with Saudi Arabia’s ACWA Power [240 MW wind power plant] and the United Arab Emirates’ Masdar [230 MW solar power plant].
As a result of this project with ACWA Power, 200 million cubic meters of gas will be saved per year, and the volume of emissions will be reduced by approximately 400,000 tons per year. At the same time, the solar power to be built will produce about 500 million kWh of electricity annually, save 110 million cubic meters of natural gas and reduce carbon emissions by 200,000 tons.
Moreover, Azerbaijan is taking measures to develop the Karabakh region into the “green energy zone”. In this regard, the country’s Energy Ministry and BP have signed an implementation agreement to build a 240MW solar power plant in liberated Zangilan and Jabrayil regions.
In April, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the Energy Ministry and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) on offshore wind energy cooperation to develop renewable energy sources in Azerbaijan.
Khizi-Absheron wind power plant
On January 13, 2022, a groundbreaking ceremony for the 240 MW wind power plant to be built in Azerbaijan by Saudi Arabia’s ACWA Power was held.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Saudi Arabian Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman al-Saud attended the groundbreaking ceremony.
The construction of the power plant is expected to take about 18 months and will be located in the country’s Khizi and Absheron regions.
Once commissioned, this power plant is expected to produce 1 billion kWh of electricity per year, which means that about 300,000 houses will be provided with electricity.
The project will attract $300 million of foreign investment.
Putting this plant into operation will save 220 million cubic meters of natural gas, which means preventing the emission of 400,000 tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Largest power plant
Azerbaijani energy expert Ilham Shaban told local media that the 240 MW Khizi-Absheron wind power plant will be the largest wind power plant in the country. Until now, the largest wind power plant in Azerbaijan has been a hybrid power plant at Gobustan test site of alternative energy.
Noting that currently, more than 90 percent of all electricity in Azerbaijan is generated by burning natural gas at thermal power plants, Shaban added that hydropower plants and alternative energy sources account for 6 percent of the generated electricity.
The expert underlined that the transition to green energy is an urgent task on a global scale, noting that Azerbaijan has taken the biggest step in this direction.
“The commissioning of the Khizi-Absheron wind power plant will save 200 million cubic meters of natural gas a year. Traditional types of energy carriers pollute the environment when burnt. Putting this wind farm into operation will allow us to save natural gas and prevent damage to the environment. The Khizi-Absheron power station will contribute to the energy security of Azerbaijan," he said.
Gas exports increase
The deputy head of the public relations and events department at Azerbaijan’s state oil company SOCAR, Ibrahim Ahmadov, told local media that the growth of renewable energy production will increase gas and, possibly, electricity exports, which will provide additional revenue to the country’s budget.
"Additional revenue from gas and electricity exports could serve the further development of renewable energy and, thus, ensure the sustainability of its development," he said.
Ahmadov said that against the background of the rapid growth of gas production and export in Azerbaijan in recent years, the level of domestic consumption of gas is also growing steadily. He noted that natural gas is one of the most important sources of electricity in the world and the main source of its production in Azerbaijan.
“Against the background of gasification of more than 96 percent of households in the country today, it is advisable to gradually replace gas in electricity production with more sustainable sources," he said.
Attracting foreign investors
Trend Deputy Director-General Sahil Karimli told local media that the Khizi-Absheron wind power plant project is of special importance from the point of view of attracting foreign investors and increasing the inflow of investments.
He noted that the investments of a Saudi Arabian company in Azerbaijan testify to the trust in the country on the global level and strong friendly relations between the two countries.
“In the future, we will witness the implementation of new similar large-scale projects. Diversification of energy supplies and growth of energy exports to foreign countries will strengthen Azerbaijan's economy even more,” he said.
Noting that such projects occupy a special place in Azerbaijan’s energy security policy, Karimli stated that at a time when the global demand for electricity is constantly growing, Azerbaijan’s energy potential looks even more attractive.
"Azerbaijan has been redrawing the energy map of Europe and becoming a reliable energy supplier for several years,” he said.
Additionally, the Baku-based news website Day.az also reported that several years ago, the International Renewable Energy Agency noted in its report the high potential of renewable energy in Azerbaijan.
"Despite the fact that the country now relies on oil and gas, it has excellent wind and solar resources, along with the significant potential to carry out biological, geothermal, and hydropower projects,” the website said.
To date, the total installed capacity of renewable energy sources in Azerbaijan is 7,538 MW.
Currently, most of the electricity produced in Azerbaijan comes from traditional energy sources, which are mainly gas power plants. For instance, around 93 percent of electric power produced in the country last year comes from gas, and the remaining comes from renewable energy sources.
Ayya Lmahamad is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @AyyaLmahamad
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