President Ilham Aliyev's green energy strategy: optimal model for regional development
BAKU, Azerbaijan, March 22. Azerbaijan's success in oil and gas cooperation, especially with European partners, may be an example for any energy-exporting country. The advantage of Azerbaijan, compared to other countries, is that the country has already launched projects aimed at developing green energy throughout the region. Having established itself as a reliable supplier of traditional resources, Azerbaijan does not plan to stop there. The country's ambitious green energy export plans are gaining momentum and are already beginning to materialize in concrete initiatives.
The project of the Southern Gas Corridor (SGC), initiated precisely by Azerbaijan at the time, was able to largely ensure the energy security of Europe. Today, many European politicians thank Azerbaijan and President Ilham Aliyev for the fact that during the global energy crisis, Azerbaijan extended a helping hand to its partners.
And now, by analogy with the SGC, Azerbaijan is creating a green energy corridor that will not only supply Europe with the additional energy resources it needs today but will also meet the global agenda for decarbonizing production.
At a recent meeting with German businessmen during his visit to Berlin, President Ilham Aliyev stressed that, soon, green energy from Azerbaijan would be as important as natural gas.
"So, we really will transform into an important green energy supplier to Europe. And taking into account our successful experience in building oil and gas pipelines, already existing history of cooperation with countries and companies in Europe on energy security, full support by European Commission to our plants, energy dialogue between European Commission and our Ministry of Energy, which started more than a year ago. So, all these factors really demonstrate that green energy from Azerbaijan will soon be no less important as natural gas is today," President Ilham Aliyev said.
By declaring Karabakh a green energy production zone, Azerbaijan has taken a major step towards decarbonization, striving for global trends and developing its own economy.
The large-scale projects that are currently underway in Azerbaijan, including on the liberated territories, are the basis for the country's development as a producer and, in the future, an exporter of alternative energy.
One of the most significant renewable energy projects on the liberated territories is a joint project with the British bp company for the production of solar energy. It is expected that in two years the power plant will fully function while "cleaning" the oil and gas production in Absheron. The project, which is being implemented by a company of this scale, shows that, firstly, Azerbaijan's renewable energy potential is quite high, and secondly, Azerbaijan is a reliable and stable partner.
In total, Azerbaijan's renewable energy potential is more than 27 GW of onshore wind and solar energy and 157 GW of wind energy in the Azerbaijani sector of the Caspian Sea. By 2027, the country plans to produce 3 GW of wind and 1 gigawatt of solar energy, 80 percent of which will be exported. By 2037, Azerbaijan expects an additional capacity of at least 6 gigawatts. Only one global energy company already plans to invest 10 GW of green energy in Azerbaijan.
As part of the state strategy, in the period from 2023 to 2025, the Ministry of Energy of Azerbaijan will be engaged in studying and assessing the prospects for the use of renewable energy sources, specifically hydropower, geothermal energy, and bioenergy, as well as hydrogen technologies, and carrying out activities for energy storage and hydro accumulation.
One of the latest key steps taken by Azerbaijan to implement the start of alternative electricity exports to Europe was the signing of the "Agreement on a strategic partnership in the field of green energy development and transmission between the Governments of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Georgia, Romania and Hungary." Only this one document already indicates the extent to which Azerbaijani energy resources are in demand in the West.
As part of this project, it is planned to lay a 1,195-kilometer power transmission line with a capacity of 1,000 MW between Georgia and Romania and install a digital connecting cable. To this end, with the support of the World Bank, it is planned to prepare a technical and economic justification of the project by the end of 2023.
In general, Azerbaijan is considering several ways to supply green electricity to Europe. The first of them is the Azerbaijan-Türkiye-Europe Energy Corridor through Nakhchivan; the second is through Georgia and Türkiye; and the third is an underwater electric and digital communication project across the Black Sea, which will connect Azerbaijan, Georgia, Romania and Hungary.
Furthermore, Azerbaijan is already working on a new line from Zangazur to Nakhchivan and from there to Türkiye and Iran. Within this context, the creation of the Jabrayil energy hub and the construction of the 330-kV Jabrayil substation are of strategic importance.
The path that will pass through Nakhchivan, in fact, is an element of the Zangazur corridor. Nakhchivan's role in this regard is very essential. According to the head of state, along with Karabakh and Eastern Zangazur, it is also planned to turn Nakhchivan into a green energy zone.
"There is a big potential of hydropower station building in Nakhchivan. And also there was an expertise recently conducted there and probably soon we will have some developments with respect to construction of the 500 megawatt solar power station. At the same time, traditional power station in Nakhchivan is also more than welcome because Nakhchivan has a great export potential," President Ilham Aliyev said.
So, repeating its oil and gas success story, Azerbaijan implements plans to export green energy in specific projects. The policy pursued by the head of state aimed at integration into the global economy has already turned Azerbaijan into the main investment hub in the region.
The world's largest companies are ready to invest huge amounts in promising projects, not only in the field of energy but also in many other areas. And now, when renewable energy becomes the basis of the dynamics of electricity production in the coming years, international investments in the country will only grow. There are all the necessary conditions for this, such as a rich potential, the priority of state policy in the field of alternative energy development, and a new legal framework. All this is the key to the success of the Azerbaijani economy.