By Aisha Jabbarova
The UNDP Resident Representative to Azerbaijan, Alessandro Fracassetti, has said that Azerbaijan has excellent potential to develop solar, wind and bio sources of energy. Fracassetti also said that the UNDP is ready to support Azerbaijan in its efforts to develop alternative energy and to take action on climate change. Below is the full text of the interview with Alessandro Fracassetti.
How would you evaluate Azerbaijan's efforts to develop its alternative energy sector as well as the country's potential in this field?
Such efforts are very much welcomed as they can contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and provide a valuable alternative to fossil fuel. Azerbaijan has excellent potential to develop solar, wind and bio sources of energy. Renewable energy should be an integral part of all countries’ climate pledges. Shifting to renewables can create far-reaching development impacts, trigger an economic stimulus and widespread health benefits. This can also help the world get back on track in meeting the Paris Agreement obligations, limit global warming to 1.5 degrees and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. At UNDP we stand ready to support Azerbaijan to take bolder action on climate change, particularly through the newly re-established Climate Change Commission.
In what ways will the development of alternative energy resources affect the country’s economy?
Under the current low tariffs on natural gas and electricity, it may be difficult to attract national and international investors in alternative energy sources in Azerbaijan. This is why it is crucial to provide greater support and more funding to alternative solutions - such as energy efficiency for example. This will help support the country’s economic diversification process by creating jobs. In countries where we managed large scale energy efficiency projects in public buildings we have witnessed significant financial savings, a reduction in energy consumption and environmental pollution but also the development of a market for energy efficiency products and energy audit companies.
UNDP has helped implement one of the first energy efficiency projects in Azerbaijan, showcasing the energy savings potential in buildings. We are currently building up on that and working together with the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources and the Global Environment Facility on a new project to introduce an enhanced energy management information system in Azerbaijan which we aim to start this year.
Over the last few years, we also partnered with the State Oil Company (SOCAR), supporting them in greening their operations through some demonstration projects in the transport, building and gas capturing areas. One of the most beneficial projects that we have launched with SOCAR is in the mountainous area of Siyazan. In this project we introduced gas-capturing techniques to turn methane - a greenhouse gas that is usually released by oil wells into the atmosphere and affects global warming - into clean fuel that can now be used for heating and cooking for over 2,000 people living in remote areas. By doing that, we have managed to save about 20% of all emissions of methane on on-shore oil wells, as well as helped reduce deforestation by providing clean heating sources to the population of these mountain villages. This clearly demonstrates that the private sector, and here particularly oil companies, can make significant reductions in emissions by increasing energy efficiency and investing in research and development.
We are also cooperating with the Ministry of Energy on drafting key legislation in the energy and alternative energy sectors to provide the legal framework for the growth of an alternative energy market in Azerbaijan.
How do you think SME's (Small and medium-sized enterprises) can benefit from alternative energy resources?
As the usage of renewable energy grows on global level, opportunities that SMEs businesses can benefit from, will be emerging.
According to the International Renewable Energy Agency’s (IRENA) Renewable Energy and Jobs report, in 2018, 10.3 million people around the world, 5.3% more than the previous year, had green jobs. In the coming decade, this number could rise to 18 million worldwide. The global trends towards greener, more sustainable technology are creating many opportunities for entrepreneurial-minded individuals.
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