President Ilham Aliyev’s renewable energy vision – Azerbaijan as magnet for global investments
Azerbaijan’s achievements in the realm of oil and gas cooperation, particularly with European countries, could serve as a model for any nation involved in energy exports, according to Azerbaijan in Focus, reporting Trend. What sets Azerbaijan apart from other countries is its proactive engagement in initiatives dedicated to advancing clean energy in the region. While the country has established itself as a dependable provider of conventional energy resources, Azerbaijan is not resting on its laurels. The nation’s ambitious objectives for exporting green energy are picking up steam and are already translating into tangible projects.
The initiation of electricity exports derived from renewable energy sources signifies the dawn of a new chapter in Azerbaijan’s energy strategy. President Ilham Aliyev has accorded top priority to the expansion of renewable energy sources, aiming to elevate the proportion of renewable energy in the total electricity production capacity to 30 percent by 2030.
Azerbaijan boasts a renewable energy potential that surpasses 27 GW, encompassing wind and solar energy on land, with an additional 157 GW of wind energy in the Azerbaijani sector of the Caspian Sea.
During a meeting with the people of the liberated Aghdam on May 18, 2021, President Ilham Aliyev announced that the entire Karabakh region would be transformed into a “green energy zone”.
Azerbaijan has set ambitious targets for its energy future. By 2027, the country aims to generate 3 GW of wind energy and 1 GW of solar energy, with the intention of exporting 80 percent of this production. Looking ahead to 2037, Azerbaijan anticipates expanding its capacity to a minimum of 6 GW.
Azerbaijan recently achieved a significant milestone in the pursuit of its ambitious energy strategy with the inauguration of the 230 MW Garadagh Solar Power Plant. The agreement for the construction of this largest solar power plant in the South Caucasus was signed in 2020. Finally, on October 26, President Ilham Aliyev officially initiated its operation.
During the opening ceremony of the plant, President Ilham Aliyev said that this is a historical moment in the country’s history, noting that it is the first among many to come.
Additional agreements have been inked with Masdar, outlining the execution of green energy ventures with a combined capacity of 1000 MW. These projects encompass the construction of a 445 MW solar power plant in Bilasuvar, a 315 MW solar power plant in Neftchala, and a 240 MW wind power plant in Absheron-Garadagh.
“We plan to work together to produce in phases up to 10 gigawatts of renewables and that will be a total revolution in the energy development of the region, because Azerbaijan is a country where the first oil in the world was produced in the middle of 19th century. The first oil from offshore fields was produced in the middle of the last century. And now, having in mind that still we are rich in fossil fuel resources, we are moving towards green agenda. This is a deliberate choice. This is our contribution not only to the future development of Azerbaijan, but to the issues related to the climate change,” President Ilham Aliyev said.
Azerbaijan, known for its reliability as an oil and gas supplier to Europe, is committed to bolstering the energy security of its European partners. A recent significant initiative in this direction involved the signing of the strategic partnership agreement for green energy development and transmission among the governments of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Georgia, Romania, and Hungary. This single agreement alone underscores the high demand for Azerbaijani energy resources in Western Europe.
As part of this project, there are plans to lay a 1,195-kilometer power transmission line with a 1,000 MW capacity connecting Georgia and Romania, along with the installation of a digital connecting cable.
“Among our plans is to work actively with our partners to create energy corridor, Caspian-EU energy corridor. Last December, a corresponding agreement was signed. We have already started our activity, the steering committee already gathered couple of times. In several months, we will have a full feasibility study of the new energy security project – Green Energy Corridor, integrated transmission production and consumption facilities, including the electric cable under the Black Sea. At this moment, the feasibility study is being prepared for 4 gigawatts of renewables,” President Ilham Aliyev said in this regard.
Consequently, Azerbaijan is actively advancing specific initiatives aimed at augmenting its electricity production through renewable energy sources and facilitating the provision of clean energy from Azerbaijan to Europe in the years to come. As an illustration, on January 9, 2020, agreements were signed to launch pilot projects in renewable energy with the participation of Saudi Arabia’s ACWA Power and the UAE’s Masdar. These agreements entail the execution of pilot projects, including the construction of a 240 MW wind power facility in collaboration with ACWA Power and a 200 MW solar power plant with Masdar.
Moreover, on December 30, 2020, a series of fresh investment agreements on power purchase, grid connectivity was formalized in conjunction with ACWA Power. On January 13, 2022, a groundbreaking ceremony marked the commencement of the Khizi-Absheron wind power station project in collaboration with ACWA Power.
On December 15, 2022, Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Energy and the Australian Fortescue Future Industries (FFI) inked an agreement for joint cooperation in the exploration and development of renewable energy and green hydrogen ventures in Azerbaijan. This agreement encompasses research and the execution of renewable energy and green hydrogen projects, with a combined capacity of up to 12 GW in Azerbaijan.
Azerbaijan has entered into memorandums of understanding and corresponding contracts with three prominent energy companies. According to their statements, they plan to generate 25 GW of renewable solar and wind energy both onshore and offshore. Of this capacity, Masdar will be responsible for producing 10 GW, Fortescue – for 12 GW, and ACWA Power has committed to delivering 2.5 GW of energy. This signifies a truly substantial potential.
The world’s leading corporations are prepared to make substantial investments in prospective ventures in Azerbaijan, spanning beyond the energy sector and encompassing various other domains. With renewable energy poised to be a cornerstone of electricity generation, international investments in the country are poised for significant expansion. Azerbaijan possesses the essential prerequisites for this growth, including abundant potential, a governmental commitment to advancing alternative energy, and a modern legal framework. These factors collectively form the linchpin of success for the Azerbaijani economy.