Alternative ways of energy supply in Azerbaijan
By Nigar Orujova
Resource-rich Azerbaijan also has a wealth of favorable climates that can enlarge the energy sources of the country.
Azerbaijan, which is turning from oil-based economy to the non-oil sector, is now developing alternative ways of power production.
Some regions of the country are prospective in terms of developing wind and solar energy, the most common alternative energy sources in Azerbaijan.
The share of alternative energy sources in the total energy production, including small hydro power plants in the country, is currently two percent.
Azerbaijan plans to increase the figure to 20 percent by 2020.
The territories that are promising in terms of developing wind energy are located on the coast of the Caspian Sea, from northern Shabran to Sumgait, the Gobustan district, the Absheron peninsula, and the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic.
Moreover, the whole Kur-Araz lowland area, Absheron peninsula, Gobustan district and Nakhchivan AR, the sunniest areas of Azerbaijan with 250-300 sunny days a year, have good potentials for solar energy production.
The share of solar energy in the total volume of alternative energy in Azerbaijan is estimated to reach 40 percent, while the wind power will hit 28 percent by 2020.
The State Agency for Renewable & Alternative Energy Sources (ABEMDA) told AzerNews that the alternative energy sector will continue its development this year.
"The construction and equipping the solar power station with an initial capacity of 2.8 megawatts has started in the framework of building the Aqroenerji complex in the Samukh region," the agency said.
The first step of the complex construction is building a new settlement for 300 families and providing over 2,000 people with work.
The settlements will be provided with the needed infrastructure for the supply of ecologically harmless power of the sun, wind, geothermal, and biogas energy sources.
In addition, gyms equiped with alternative energy sources will be opened in the Siyazan and Shaki regions, while hybrid power stations, each with 10 MW capacity, will be built in Nakhchivan AR, Neftchala, Oghuz, Gadabay, and Balakan, the agency said.
The agency plans to build solar power stations with a total capacity of 2,065 MW, solar heating power stations with a total capacity of 4,500 MW, biomass stations with a total capacity of 515 MW, wind power stations with a total capacity of 512.5 MW, and small water electric stations with a total capacity of 60 MW in 2014-2020.
Current alternative energy power plants are also forging ahead. The landfill on alternative sources of energy in the Gobustan region has started delivering energy to Gobustan by means of a "smart network" system, which will automatically control the production-consumption regime of the ABEMDA's energy in Azerbaijani regions.
The Gobustan landfill will supply the whole Gobustan region with energy power in the future. For this purpose, additional solar panels with 1.2 MW capacities will be installed in the landfill.
Azguntex Azerbaijan, the company that produces solar panels, plans to produce 400,000 panels a year in the future, which will be installed at education, health protection, culture, and sport facilities in Baku and across the country.
Azguntex is expecting to install the second line capable of producing 25 MW or 100,000 panels in the second quarter of 2014.
Pleasant variety of sources
Besides solar and wind energy, Azerbaijan can also enjoy geothermal energy.
ABEMDA plans to complete the realization of a project provided as part of the construction of geothermal power plants in 2015. The project's coverage area includes Khachmaz, Lankaran, Masalli, and other regions of Azerbaijan.
There is also a great potential for hybrid power stations in Azerbaijan, and the alternative energy company plans to have hybrid power plants in the majority of Azerbaijani cities by 2020.
Ecologically friendly energy
The usage of alternative sources of energy contributes to cutting carbon emissions.
Monitoring 1,879 enterprises in Azerbaijan in 2013 revealed that emission allowances were exceeded in every fourth company in terms of water resources pollution, and in every fifth company in terms of air pollution.
Notwithstanding the fact that Azerbaijan is believed to produce 0.1 percent of the worldwide greenhouse gas emissions, Azerbaijani scientists associate the increase of global warming, and in particular in Azerbaijan, with these emissions.
Alternative sources of energy can help Azerbaijani people to improve ecological situation in the country in this regard as well.