Speech by Ilham Aliyev at the groundbreaking ceremony for the largest thermal power plant ever built throughout Azerbaijan`s independence
13 February 2023, 11:04
Dear ladies and gentlemen,
Today we are gathered for the groundbreaking ceremony of a new 1,280-megawatt power plant in the city of Mingachevir. I am sure that we will celebrate this plant’s opening in 2025.
This is a very significant event. It will significantly strengthen our country’s energy potential and, at the same time, further increase the importance of Mingachevir as the electricity generation center of Azerbaijan. Mingachevir is our central city in the field of electric energy, and the power plant operating in Mingachevir meets most of our country’s electricity needs today.
Heydar Aliyev was the National Leader who turned Mingachevir into an energy center for Azerbaijan and the entire Caucasus. Under his leadership and initiative, in the 1970s, more precisely in 1976, the foundation of a large power plant was laid in Mingachevir. The first block of the big station was inaugurated in 1981 with the personal participation of Heydar Aliyev.
The station, with a total generation capacity of 2,400 megawatts, provided not only the energy potential of our country but also a significant part of the country’s industrial potential, allowing Azerbaijan the opportunity to be supplied with electricity even in the most challenging years of our independence, in the early years. However, people who lived in Baku and those who lived in different parts of Azerbaijan remember well that there were blackouts at the time, there was a shortage, and we could not provide for ourselves. Nevertheless, the main burden fell upon the Mingachevir Power Station.
Of course, over the years, infrastructure has become obsolete. The reconstruction of the Mingachevir Power Station was one of the priority issues, and the complete overhaul of the station began on my instruction in 2018. In a short period, in a matter of two years, eight blocks were reconstructed entirely and put into use. Thus, in 2020, the station, as they say, started working again with its original generating capacity of 2,400 megawatts.
Due to the restoration and reconstruction work, more than 600 megawatts of lost power were restored, tantamount to the construction of a new large station.
The importance of the Mingachevir Power Station was further evidenced during the second Karabakh war. Because at that time, Armenia, defeated on the battlefield, also fired at civilian sites in Azerbaijan; hundreds of residential houses were completely destroyed, and about a hundred civilians were killed. The Mingachevir Power Station, fired with long-range missiles, was among them. Azerbaijan's air defense systems destroyed many of these missiles, and some hostile missiles missed the target. So Armenia was defeated on the battlefield and wanted to destroy the main center of Azerbaijan's electricity generation. But they failed.
Now begins a new era for the city of Mingachevir as the electricity center of Azerbaijan - in fact, not only Azerbaijan but also the entire Caucasus. The station, with a capacity of about 1,300 megawatts, will undoubtedly strengthen our potential to a great extent. This will contribute to Azerbaijan's energy security, hundreds of new jobs will be created, and thus Azerbaijan will make full use of its capabilities to meet domestic demand and, at the same time, take more significant steps in the field of electric power and natural gas. Because the consumption of conventional fuel in the newly built station is relatively low, and this will enable us to save approximately 800 million cubic meters or 1 billion cubic meters of gas per year. There is a tremendous demand for Azerbaijani gas in Europe today, contributing to Europe's energy security.
I should also note that this new station, meeting modern standards, will consume significantly less carbon dioxide - by 2 million tons. Thus it will be of great benefit to the environment.
The station will be built using the domestic resources of Azerbaijan. According to the information I have been given, the total cost of the plant will be about 400 million dollars, and people familiar with the field of electricity generation know how much a plant with a capacity of about 1,300 megawatts can cost. That is, the funds to be invested in this station are three to four times lower than is typically spent on constructing stations of this size. The reason for this is, of course, efficiency. At the same time, the reason for this is that a robust electricity infrastructure has already been created in Mingachevir, and the construction of this station in Mingachevir is primarily aimed at that.
This is why we have great energy potential with little investment. At the same time, 60 percent of the funds to be paid will be provided by Azerenergy itself, and the remaining 40 percent will be provided through loans. Again, taking into account that the efficiency here will be very high, there will be significant savings on natural gas, and, within a few years, I am sure that as a result of the operation of this station, both the invested funds will return and, at the same time, the loan will be repaid.
So, it is an overall successful project. Renewable energy is currently given greater priority in the world and Europe, including Azerbaijan, and we have already achieved great success in this field. Nevertheless, the benefits of traditional resources and traditional stations are also evident.
We will build this station together with foreign partners. Today's ceremony is attended by the Minister of Enterprises and Made in Italy. I sincerely welcome the distinguished guest. At the same time, a Chinese company will participate in the construction of this station. So, we will do this work within the framework of foreign cooperation. Of course, the relations between Azerenergy and the Italian company Ansaldo play a crucial role here. I should bring to your attention that the contracts between Azerenergy and Ansaldo were signed immediately after the second Karabakh war. At a time when large-scale construction and restoration work is going on in the liberated Karabakh and Eastern Zangezur, the energy potential of that region is being explored in the first place, and Ansaldo and Azerenergy are working in this direction as part of this partnership.
The Italian company's participation in this station's construction is not accidental. Italy is our strategic partner. Two documents on strategic partnership have been signed between Italy and Azerbaijan; high-level reciprocal visits have been organized. Starting from January of this year, three ministers of the new Italian government have already visited Azerbaijan - the minister of defense, the minister of energy, and today the minister of enterprises and Made in Italy. In just one month, i.e., the first visit was on January 11, and three new government ministers visited Azerbaijan. This shows how advanced our relations are.
Of course, cooperation in the field of energy is traditional. Most Azerbaijani oil is delivered to the Italian market, and Azerbaijani gas has been delivered to the Italian market for over two years. The TAP project is our joint success. Whereas the starting point of the Southern Gas Corridor is Azerbaijan's sector in the Caspian Sea, its endpoint is Italy, and several countries along the way benefit from Azerbaijan's gas. Taking into account the new needs of Europe and according to the document signed between the European Commission and Azerbaijan last year, we will ensure an increase in the volume of natural gas supplies to Europe. Of course, the issue of doubling the capacity of the TAP is on the agenda now. This issue has been discussed for some time now, including the discussions at the Southern Gas Corridor Advisory Council held in Baku at the beginning of this month.
I am sure that we will reach our goals in all these directions, and just like in the oil and gas projects, Azerbaijan's electricity will also be delivered to Europe. For this purpose, a relevant agreement was signed in December last year, and Azerbaijan's potential, including green energy potential, will open new opportunities for Europe.
So, Italy-Azerbaijan relations not only provide the interests of our two countries but also provide the interests of a large geography. I should also say that our cooperation is not limited to the energy sector. Italy is Azerbaijan’s primary trading partner. Currently, a new building of the Azerbaijan-Italy University is being built in Baku. Italian companies are actively involved in restoration and reconstruction work on the liberated lands - restoration and construction of religious sites and construction and design of victory museums. So, this is a very strategic partnership, and today's ceremony shows that again.
I must say that the field of power engineering in Azerbaijan has developed rapidly and successfully in recent years. Over the past 20 years, 34 power plants have been built in Azerbaijan, and the generation capacity of these plants is approximately 3,400 megawatts. For comparison, our total generation capacity is 7,200 megawatts, of which 3,400 megawatts have been created in the last 20 years. Imagine if we had yet to do this. If we had not prioritized this issue, our economic and industrial development could be in question now. Today we would not be able to provide our energy security. That is, all work was done on time and in proper sequence. Today's ceremony and the new plant will start operating in 2025 and will further strengthen our energy potential because it is needed both in Azerbaijan and Europe.
We have started the restoration and reconstruction work on the liberated lands, primarily in power engineering. More than ten substations and over ten hydroelectric power stations have already been built. We have already created more than 50 megawatts of generation capacity in the East Zangezur region in two years, and this figure will reach 200 megawatts by the end of this year. In other words, we will create 200 megawatts of energy on liberated lands in just three years. All stations are connected to a shared network. The considerable hydropower potential of Eastern Zangezur and Karabakh will enable us to create up to 500 megawatts of generating power in those regions. That is, this area remains a priority.
But at the same time, as you know, Azerbaijan has vast potential for developing renewable energy. Currently, two stations are under construction – 470-megawatt solar and wind stations. The construction of the third station will start soon, giving us about 240 megawatts of additional power. Based on the documents signed with foreign investors, up to 25 gigawatts of solar and wind power plants are to be built, most in the Caspian Sea and a few onshore. This is vast potential, and the wind energy potential of the Caspian Sea alone is equal to 157 gigawatts.
Today we are laying the foundation of an extensive and essential project. I am sure the station will be built on time, strengthen our country’s energy potential, enhance our export opportunities, and open the way for future projects with foreign partners.