By Binsal Abdulkader
ABU DHABI, 19th May, 2022 (WAM) — An oil-rich Azerbaijan wants to be a net exporter of renewables, a top official told the Emirates News Agency (WAM), adding that the Southwest Asian country’s partnership with the UAE will play a crucial role in that ambitious journey.
“Azerbaijan has been traditionally an oil and gas producer and exporter, and a net exporter of electricity as well. Now we are dynamically developing the renewable sources of energy. Together with our partners, including the United Arab Emirates, we are going to be a country that will export the green energy as well in future,” said Parviz Shahbazov, Minister of Energy, Republic of Azerbaijan.
The former Soviet republic, bordered by four countries – Russia, Georgia, Armenia and Iran, and the Caspian Sea, is home to the world’s first oil well, dug in the mid-1800s.
Ambitious renewable energy plans
Azerbaijan has now embarked on an ambitious journey of producing renewables, Shahbazov pointed out.
“We have just recently laid foundation for a new solar power station. It is the first industrial scale renewable energy project with 100 percent investments from the UAE,” the minister told WAM on the sidelines of the World Utilities Congress in Abu Dhabi last week, where he was a speaker.
Shahbazov was referring to the 230-megawatt (MW) Garadagh Solar photovoltaic (PV) Plant in Azerbaijan, being constructed by Abu Dhabi-based Masdar, one of the world’s leading renewable energy companies. Masdar announced the formal start of its construction in March 2022, which is Azerbaijan’s first foreign investment-based independent solar power project.
Masdar signed agreements to develop the Garadagh project, located nine kilometres northwest of the Alat settlement, in April 2021, with the plant expected to start commercial operation in 2023.
UAE-funded project to power 110,000 homes
The project will help generate half a billion kilowatt-hours of electricity annually, enough to meet the needs of more than 110,000 houses. It will also reduce emissions by more than 200,000 tonnes a year and create valuable jobs.
The Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD), the UAE’s development financing institution driving sustainable development at home and abroad, is a key finance partner for the project and is keen to support Azerbaijan further over its efforts to achieve renewable-energy goals.
Masdar also signed agreements related to developing additional clean-energy projects across Azerbaijan.
The energy minister continued, “We are going to continue this successful cooperation with the UAE in the future.”
Renewing 2030 renewables target
Asked about Azerbaijan’s targets in renewables, Shahbazov said, “We are going to increase the share of renewables in energy mix up to 30 percent by 2030. However, this is also not the ultimate goal. I am sure that we will, in the coming years, review this target. Maybe we will enhance the target.”
Azerbaijan has an estimated solar energy potential of 23,040 megawatt (MW), according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).
Elaborating on the cooperation with the UAE, the minister said, “We are in a very intensive discussions about broader and comprehensive participation of the UAE in our energy sector. We have very ambitious plans to realise together with the UAE.”
Given the excellent relations between the leaderships of both countries, he pointed out, “We want to cooperate even closer, and I am sure that we will have very comprehensive cooperation in the energy sector in the coming years.”