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President: As host of COP29, Azerbaijan has to be among frontrunners on green transition

President Ilham Aliyev

Despite its wealth of energy resources and global recognition as an energy exporter, Azerbaijan remains committed to developing its renewable energy sector. This strategic decision isn’t just about enhancing energy security, it is also fostering new industrial sectors, creating jobs, and promoting sustainable economic growth.

Under President Ilham Aliyev’s leadership, Azerbaijan’s energy security policy prioritizes expanding the usage of renewable energy sources. As reported by Azernews, in the first five months of this year, the share of green energy in Azerbaijan’s electricity production reached 14%. The country’s installed capacity for renewable energy sources stands at 1748.6 megawatts, constituting 20.86% of its total electricity production capacity.

The head of state has emphasized Azerbaijan’s shift towards green energy in his interviews with the international media. He highlighted Azerbaijan’s appeal to investors in both the traditional energy sectors and renewable energy projects, positioning the country for sustainable economic development.

President Aliyev underscored Azerbaijan’s key partnerships in renewable energy projects, particularly mentioning “Masdar” as a strategic partner. He noted the recent inauguration of three solar and wind energy stations with a combined capacity of 1 gigawatt, illustrating Azerbaijan’s commitment to sustainable energy production.

“Masdar is our strategic partner in the field of renewable energy. Last October, we inaugurated the first 230-megawatt solar power station. Today, we marked the groundbreaking ceremony for three solar and wind power stations with a total capacity of 1 gigawatt.”

Notably, in collaboration with Masdar from the UAE, Azerbaijan commenced operations at the Garadagh Solar Power Station (GES) last year, marking a significant milestone. The Garadagh GES is the first station built in Azerbaijan with foreign investment. Moreover, during Baku Energy Week on June 4, Azerbaijan laid the foundation for the Neftchala, Bilasuvar Solar Power Stations, and Absheron-Gobustan Wind Power Station in cooperation with Masdar. Together, these stations will boast a total installed capacity of 1000 MW.

The stations are expected to generate 500 million kilowatt-hours of electricity annually, save 110 million cubic meters of natural gas, and reduce carbon emissions by more than 200,000 tons. Azerbaijan’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions is reflected in its pledge to cut emissions from energy production by 40% by 2050 and establish “zero-emission” zones in recently liberated territories. Significant strides are already underway in this direction.

President Ilham Aliyev also highlighted commitments related to transitioning to a green economy.

“This is just the beginning, as we plan to implement all the contracts and MoUs, and that means up to ten gigawatts in mid-term and up to five gigawatts until 2030,” the head of state said.

Besides, the President emphasized Azerbaijan’s potential in renewable energy and the importance of attracting investments in the country’s capital environment. Investments in this sector are currently among the top priorities.

It’s worth noting that Azerbaijan offers a favorable capital environment. According to the World Bank, Azerbaijan ranks 30th globally in terms of business opportunities, aligning with its strategy and potential for attracting investments in renewable energy.

Azerbaijan’s primary strategy in transitioning to green energy, despite its reputation as an oil and gas nation, involves directing revenues towards renewable energy fields as planned. This approach effectively utilizes oil revenues to diversify the economy.

“There is a good investment climate. It really demonstrates how a country that generated wealth from fossil fuel is now channeling this wealth into renewable energy. As a host country of COP29, this is also our obligation to be among the frontrunners on green transition,” the President said.

While discussing significant efforts towards transitioning to green energy, it’s important to acknowledge initial challenges within the country. The President noted that every new venture carries uncertainties, but Azerbaijan benefits from strong partnerships.

“We have great partners, Masdar, as I said, is a strategic partner but we have also ACWA Power, bp among our investors, and many more companies from different countries that are planning to work with us. So, in oil and gas, we know the whole alphabet. Here we just start. Therefore, the challenges could be with the national energy grid, because we need to reinforce it to be able to absorb as much as we can offer to investors”

It’s important to highlight that ACWA Power, a prominent Saudi Arabian company, is currently implementing a 240 MW wind power station project in Azerbaijan.

In 2022, Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Energy and ACWA Power signed a Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation in offshore wind energy. The memorandum aims to establish basic principles for collaboration in offshore wind energy, evaluate potential profitable investments in Azerbaijan’s renewable energy projects, and facilitate cooperation.

On January 13, 2022, the foundation laying ceremony for the “Khizi-Absheron” Wind Power Station, built by ACWA Power in Azerbaijan, took place with the participation of President Ilham Aliyev and Prince Abdul Aziz bin Salman Al-Saud, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Energy.

The “Khizi-Absheron” WPS, with a capacity of 240 megawatts, will be Azerbaijan’s largest electric power station in the renewable energy sector. Operations are slated to commence in 2025.

The station is expected to produce one billion kilowatt-hours of electricity annually, save approximately 220 million cubic meters of natural gas, and prevent over 400,000 tons of carbon emissions from entering the atmosphere.

This joint project with Saudi Arabia holds significant importance, contributing to Azerbaijan’s energy security, creating numerous jobs, conserving natural gas, and reducing environmental impact.

The “Shafag” solar-electric station, planned in collaboration with bp on recently liberated lands, will play a crucial role in achieving these goals and contribute to initiatives in Garabagh and Eastern Zangazur.

When discussing substantial efforts towards transitioning to green energy, it’s crucial to mention SOCAR’s plans to connect electricity cables to offshore platforms, aiming to reduce natural gas consumption at facilities within Azerbaijan’s territory. SOCAR also plans to construct an underwater cable project across the Black Sea for transporting green energy from Azerbaijan to Europe.

President Ilham Aliyev emphasized that the primary goal is exporting energy derived from renewable sources, necessitating robust collaboration with neighboring countries to strengthen energy grids. He reiterated the importance of international partnerships and highlighted the role of direct foreign investments in Azerbaijan’s energy sector during Baku Energy Week.

In conclusion, Azerbaijan’s strides towards renewable energy, despite its oil and gas prominence, signify a strategic shift towards sustainability. President Ilham Aliyev’s commitment positions Azerbaijan as a key player in the global energy transition and a pivotal hub for international cooperation in the energy sector.

About Fidan Abdullayeva