• © Stiftung Offshore-Windenergie | Weserwind | Detlef Gehring | 2008

The role of sustainable energy in promoting the green economy: the model of Azerbaijan

Article of  H.E. Mr. Ramin Hasanov, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the Federal Republic of Germany


Energy landscape

Azerbaijan is endowed with abundant fossil fuel resources. For a long period of time, the hydrocarbon reserves encompassed the cornerstone of the country’s economy. After regaining its independence, Azerbaijan initiated international energy pipelines to ensure regional and European energy security, as well as diversify energy supplies and routes. Azerbaijan is also an electricity exporter to the neighboring countries. The country holds one of the highest energy self-sufficiency ratios on a global scale. As one of the significant energy producers and exporters of the world, the country also promotes transparency, good governance and accountability in the extractive industries. Azerbaijan has established itself as a very reliable partner and provided an inspiring stimulus for the leading transnational energy corporations to landmark their presence in the country. Such impressive developments in the energy sector had positive spill-over effects on other sectors of the country’s economy, including renewables.

Sustainable energy vision

The country is also blessed to have an extensive potential in the field of renewables, and the establishment of sustainable energy system is one of the economic priorities. The revenues generated from the oil-gas sector are being channeled, among other economic sectors, to the development of renewables as well. Renewable energy development will accelerate economic diversification, ensure energy security, improve export potential, promote environmental sustainability, enhance the introduction of innovative technologies, create new job opportunities. Azerbaijan’s promising perspectives in solar, wind, hydro, bio-mass and geothermal sources position the country as the regional leader in the sphere of renewables as well. Advantageous sites for the renewable energy sources are widely distributed throughout the country, especially in Baku, Absheron peninsula, Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, the regions located along coastlines of the Caspian Sea, Kura river basin, Greater and Lesser Caucasus Mountains. The factors such as country’s economic power, essential infrastructure, favorable geographic location and climatic conditions play an exception role in maximizing renewable energy generation.

The State Program on “Using alternative and renewable energy sources in the Republic of Azerbaijan” has opened ambitious horizons for intensification of renewables development. The matters related to renewables have been duly embedded at the national development concept entitled “Azerbaijan 2020: the vision into the future”, as well as the strategic roadmap for the development of utility services. The recently-issued Presidential Decree on “Measures on the implementation of pilot projects in the area of using renewable energy sources” will provide a further impetus to the expansion of the renewables and attracting private investments. Moreover, Azerbaijan continuously improves business and regulatory climate, promotes favorable business opportunities, as well as offers multiple incentives to advance the deployment of renewables, especially through attracting foreign investments and supporting private entrepreneurship.
Among renewables, hydropower has the highest installed capacity complemented by wind, bio-mass and solar PV. In order to fully benefit from Azerbaijan’s untapped renewable energy potential, the country continues to increase the quantity of its power plants. The present share of renewables in the total energy mix is estimated to be equivalent to approximately 20% by the end of 2020. The country’s target is to increase the current share to 30% by 2030. In order to unlock its vast potential, Azerbaijan expands its cooperation on bilateral and multilateral scope. The country is an active participant of the European Union’s “INOGATE” and “EU4Energy” Programmes.

Waste management and circular economy

Azerbaijan has developed a solid agricultural sector and this aspect creates enormous opportunities for bio-energy generation. In this respect, Azerbaijan is keen to substantially expand waste processing and recycling. Sustainable disposal and waste management constitute integral components of the country’s socioeconomic policy directions. There is a significant potential for generating energy from household bio-degradable wastes. The Presidential Decree on “Improvement of solid household waste management in Baku city” and National Strategy on “Improvement of solid waste management in the Republic of Azerbaijan” have been vital milestones in advancing circular economy. Baku Waste-to-Energy Plant is a prominent example of waste incineration system. State-owned “Tamiz Shahar” company has been empowered with the function of management of household wastes based on modern standards, particularly to optimize environmental situation. Balakhani landfill acts as a disposal site for the daily-collected municipal solid waste. Thanks to the implemented expedient measures, municipal solid waste management system operates quite efficiently in Baku. Hovsan Aeration Station is the largest wastewater cleaning centre in the South Caucasus and it is planned to construct a bio-energy plant to generate an energy from the accumulated waste.  At the same time, industrial companies are continuously upgrading their waste management practices, especially through updating technologies.

Success stories

“Yeni Yashma Wind Park” is the largest operating unique wind facility in the South Caucasus. “Gobustan Experimental Landfill and Training Centre” is the first hybrid-type renewable energy power plant built in Azerbaijan that includes wind, solar and bio-gas. “Samukh Agro-Energy Residential Complex” is powered by renewables, for electricity-heat generation, including solar, geothermal, and locally-produced bio-mass waste. “Wind Island-1”, to be installed in Pirallahi and Chilov islands, will be one of the first wind farms to be built in offshore oil production zone. Another outstanding project is related to the plant construction for the development of bio-fuels in Sabirabad district. Furthermore, in future, floating solar panel network is envisaged to be introduced in Azerbaijan. Moreover, thanks to the favorable opportunities available at the Caspian Sea, the tidal and offshore wind power also offer tremendous prospects. Besides, power generation, mainly in the country’s mountainous regions, from deep geothermal resources offers favorable perspectives.

Environmental security

Azerbaijan attaches utmost importance to mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and therefore joined global efforts on combating climate change. Azerbaijan has provided its contribution to international solidarity to address climate change and favors a low emission policy. Although, Azerbaijan is mainly positioned on the receiving side of the negative effects of the climate change, the country contributes to the global reduction of CO₂ emissions.  
In order to support the universal endeavors to tackle global warming, Azerbaijan targets the substantial reduction in the level of greenhouse gas emissions (35%) by 2030. Among other measures, the domestic industrial production patterns are being continuously modernized via applying cutting-edge technologies, know-how and expertise. In this regard, boosting Azerbaijan's renewables sector will be a crucial driver for the eco-sustainability.

SOCAR: mainstreaming renewables in the environment-friendly practices

Being of the world’s leading multinational energy companies, SOCAR heavily invests in renewables to be used in its business processes. As part of its zero-emission target, SOCAR has established the Environmental Park, in Baku, to contribute to the ecological sustainability and promote clean energy. The Environmental Park has been laid out over the surface completely-cleansed from oil contamination. Wind power turbine and solar panels are installed in the eco-park. Although SOCAR mainly focuses on conventional energy sources, the company uses the renewables at its oil-gas fields, and is considering renewable energy options for supplying power to its offshore facilities. Keeping an eye on future, SOCAR plans to expand solar and wind energy system to its other production fields, as well as application of environment-friendly technologies and methods at its sites. Green Building and Gas Capture Programs, including eco-driving and sustainable transportation system are also obvious examples of the environmental sustainability activities implemented by SOCAR.

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