Speech by Ilham Aliyev at the groundbreaking ceremony for Garadagh Solar Power Plant

15 march 2022, 11:51
Speech by Ilham Aliyev at the groundbreaking ceremony for Garadagh Solar Power Plant

Dear ladies and gentlemen.

Dear guests.

It is a very significant day in the energy sector of our country today, as the foundation of the Garadagh Solar Power Plant is being laid. I sincerely congratulate you and all the people of Azerbaijan on this occasion. It is indeed a very important event. This 230-megawatt plant will meet the growing energy needs of our country and contribute to the expansion of our export potential.

I am very glad that this great project is being implemented by Masdar, a world-renowned company with extensive experience in this field. As I mentioned, Masdar has a great deal of experience in this field and has been operating successfully in many countries for many years. Of course, the investment of this company in Azerbaijan is very commendable. This shows again that Azerbaijan is a very attractive country for foreign investment, an open country. Azerbaijan has a very good investment climate. At the same time, Azerbaijan is fulfilling all its obligations to foreign partners. One of our main priorities is to attract major foreign investment to Azerbaijan’s non-oil sector. Because over many years, 10 billion dollars have been invested in the oil and gas sector. This has allowed us the opportunity to achieve what we want in the field of energy. Today, Azerbaijan is also an exporter of crude oil, natural gas, oil products and electricity. We have great potential in terms of electricity exports. We are already exporting to four neighboring countries, and I am confident that we will access other markets with our electricity in the future. With this in mind, the construction of each new station, as I said, increases our export potential.

Masdar represents a friendly country for us – the United Arab Emirates. Our bilateral relations are at a very high level. We are successfully cooperating in political, economic and other fields. Our trade relations are growing. There are ample opportunities in the field of tourism, and I am glad that growth in this area is obvious as well. In a nutshell, the relations between the United Arab Emirates and Azerbaijan have great prospects. I am glad that cooperation in the field of renewable energy production is starting today. In fact, the executive agreement between the Ministry of Energy of Azerbaijan and Masdar was signed a year ago. Preparations were underway during this time, and today we are gathered for the groundbreaking ceremony.

I must say that very important steps have been taken in the energy sector since the beginning of this year. In January, ACWA Power, a well-known Saudi company, laid the foundation for a 240-megawatt wind farm. A 385-megawatt power plant built by AzerEnergy was inaugurated in February, and the foundation of a 230-megawatt solar power plant is being laid today. In other words, new generation capacities with a capacity of 855 megawatts are being created in less than three months. A capacity of 385 megawatts has already been created. I am confident that additional capacities will be included in our overall system in 2023, and this is just the beginning. Because the development of renewable energy is a priority for us. We have been working to resolve this issue for many years, and today we are seeing tangible results. In general, the existing stability in Azerbaijan, the economic development, our relations with neighboring countries, our transport, communications and close contacts with neighboring countries in terms of power lines have created a unique situation that Azerbaijan is not only a major producer of crude oil, oil products and natural gas, but also a major producer and exporter of electricity. I am sure that we are already seeing the manifestations of this work. We must also take into account that there is a great need for electricity in neighboring countries and on the European continent. We produce electricity only from environmentally friendly sources – natural gas, water, solar and wind. I want to say again that the potential for renewable energy in Azerbaijan is enormous. That is why the world's leading energy companies are now very interested in cooperating with Azerbaijan in this area. I am confident that we will launch new projects in the near future.

Great potential is available in the liberated territories. Accurate calculations have already been made and the production of solar and wind energy can reach about 9,000-10,000 megawatts. Preliminary steps are already being taken, negotiations are underway with bp to build a solar power plant with a generation capacity of more than 200 megawatts. I do hope that these talks are also successful. Other large companies are interested in the region. I must say that during the 30 years of occupation, Armenians and the Armenian state destroyed the entire infrastructure, all the buildings, historical and religious sites in the occupied territories. There are many documents, video and photo information confirming this. In particular, more than 30 hydropower plants have been destroyed in Kalbajar and Lachin districts, and we have already begun large-scale work in the liberated lands, including in the field of electricity. Last year, we restored four hydropower plants. Their total generation capacity is 20 megawatts. This year, there are plans to reconstruct five hydropower plants with a combined generation capacity of 27 megawatts. Of course, these capacities are not very large compared to other stations. However, the number of these stations will be more than 30 in Kalbajar and Lachin districts alone, and these are hydropower plants. Of course, there is a greater potential for the creation of solar and wind power plants. I want to say again that the entire infrastructure has been created, internal lines have been modernized, many substations have been built, including seven in the liberated lands in just one year.

Foreign markets are outside our borders and in Europe. Again, there is a great demand. Domestic demand is growing. In the years of independence, the population of Azerbaijan has increased from 7 million to 10 million. This, of course, is a great advantage. At the same time, our industry and economy are growing. In the first two months of this year, the gross domestic product increased by 6.7 percent, the non-oil sector by 10.1 percent and non-oil industrial production by about 21 percent. All these are achievements of the post-pandemic period and show that the reforms carried out in Azerbaijan, the policy of industrialization, the improvement of the business environment and the attraction of foreign investment are truly commendable steps. I would like to add that Azerbaijan is one of a handful of countries of the world where foreign debt is very low – only $7.4 billion. If we want, we can repay this debt in one day. Of course, both international financial institutions, large companies and investors are very interested in Azerbaijan. Our policy is to ensure the further rapid development of our country, first of all, to restore the liberated lands, of course. This is a large area, more than 10,000 square kilometers. At the same time, we want to ensure the sustainable development of our country. It is an axiom that no country can develop without electricity. This is the first condition and it is the main condition. Fortunately, Azerbaijan has rich oil and gas fields, and these fields are being successfully developed and operated. There is a modern infrastructure – transport, communications and power lines connect us with export markets. There is a strong political resolve. We have close partnerships with almost all countries of the world. We have many friends, one of whom is from the United Arab Emirates. Taking into account all the investment interests, the business interests, I must also say that if there weren’t close and friendly relations between our countries, we probably would not have seen this project. So a combination of all these factors creates a wonderful opportunity. I think we are using this opportunity very effectively and we will continue to do so.

I do hope that the construction of the station is successful. I want to thank Masdar for its trust and plans to make major investments. I am sure that we will together celebrate the opening of this station in Garadagh in the near future. Thank you.