Ilham Aliyev attended official opening ceremony of 230 MW Garadagh Solar Power Plant

26 October 2023, 12:25
Ilham Aliyev attended official opening ceremony of 230 MW Garadagh Solar Power Plant

An official inauguration of the 230 MW Garadagh Solar PV Plant has been held.

President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev attended the ceremony.

The head of state addressed the event.

The ceremony first featured a video screening highlighting the work done in the Garadagh Solar PV Plant.

On 6 April 2021, the Investment, Power Purchase and Transmission Connection agreements were signed between the Ministry of Energy of Azerbaijan, Azerenergy OJSC and Masdar Company of the United Arab Emirates. A groundbreaking ceremony for the plant was held in the Gulustan Palace on 15 March 2022 with the participation of President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev.

The Garadagh Solar PV Plant is the largest solar power plant in the Caspian region and the CIS. The plant was built at the expense of foreign investment worth $262 million.

Speech by President Ilham Aliyev

- Dear ministers.

Dear guests.

Ladies and gentlemen.

Last March, we were participating in the groundbreaking ceremony of the solar power plant. The video that was just shown demonstrates the historical moment in our history. Because that was a start, I am sure, of a big journey for our two brotherly countries. Today, we are very proud to see that in a relatively short period, something more than a year and a half, this empty part of the Absheron Peninsula became a source of green energy. This is a remarkable achievement. I'd like to congratulate Masdar and its leadership for this outstanding contribution to the development of Azerbaijan and its commitment to our country with respect to the green transition.

Today, among our guests, we are proud to see four UAE government ministers and a big delegation from a brotherly country. This is a good example of our partnership and friendship, and it also demonstrates that both countries pay great importance to today`s ceremony. First, because, as it was already shown, it's the largest in the region and second, because it is, as I already said, only the beginning.

We have big plans, and I'm sure that friendly and brotherly relations between the UAE and Azerbaijan will continue to develop successfully. I'm sure that there'll be more projects. Later today, we will witness the signing ceremony of three investment agreements, which will produce one gigawatt of renewables in a very short time. So, we consider today's event a bright example of brotherly relations between the UAE and Azerbaijan.

I would like to express gratitude to our dear guests for being with us today. I would like to express special gratitude to Masdar. This company trusted Azerbaijan and decided to start large-scale investments in renewables and make it possible for Azerbaijan to achieve its goals with respect to the green agenda. Today's project is the first among many to come.

As I said, three investment agreements will be signed today, but our plans are much broader. We plan to work together to produce up to 10 gigawatts of renewables in phases. That will be a total revolution in the region's energy development because Azerbaijan is a country where the first oil in the world was produced in the middle of the 19th century. The first oil from offshore fields was produced in the middle of the last century. And now, considering that we are still rich in fossil fuel resources, we are moving towards a green agenda. This is a deliberate choice. This is our contribution not only to the future development of Azerbaijan but to the issues related to climate change.

So, I am very hopeful and absolutely sure that all our plans will be implemented. Today's ceremony demonstrates that. Also, I hope that today's ceremony will be a good example and will send a good signal to many more companies from the UAE to come to work with us. I know that recently, our national oil companies, energy companies ADNOC and SOCAR, have already become official partners in Azerbaijan. I know there are plans to work together in UAE and other countries. So, we see now that the development of cooperation between our countries, governmental structures and companies is really elevating to a new stage.

Azerbaijan is a very friendly country for foreign investments. We have enjoyed a multibillion-dollar investment portfolio during the last three decades. Total investments in Azerbaijan were more than 300 billion US dollars and almost 200 billion US dollars in the non-oil sector. Our economic target is to continue diversifying our economy to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. But at the same time, we understand that our oil and gas will be needed for the international market for many more years. For that purpose, multiple pipeline oil and gas pipeline systems have been commissioned, and now we export our oil and gas in different directions. Azerbaijan is the exporter of oil, natural gas, oil products, petrochemicals, and electricity to international markets.

Of course, in the coming years, we will export hydrogen, including green hydrogen. For that purpose, we are working very closely with our partners - companies from different countries of the world to create this potential.

With respect to the investment climate of Azerbaijan, I already mentioned that Azerbaijan`s economy is very stable. During the last 20 years, our GDP grew more than four times. We managed to reduce our direct foreign debt to a level below 10% of GDP and reduce the poverty level, which was close to 50% 20 years ago, down to 5.5%.

So, it demonstrates that the fair distribution of the revenues from oil and gas exports creates an absolutely new reality. In the coming years, we are planning to implement the state program, which reinforces our national energy grid in a short period of time. This is absolutely necessary. Because I mentioned only projects that we are planning to implement with Masdar. There are many other investment proposals, some of which are already in the face of implementation.

So, we will definitely need to reinforce our national energy grid, and as I said, the state program is being implemented. We will do everything on time. We have already allocated financial resources so that our investors, who produce renewable energy sources, feel comfortable.

At the same time, I would like to inform you that our renewable energy agenda is not limited only to solar or wind power stations. We are actively developing our hydro energy potential in the territories liberated three years ago - Karabakh and East Zangezur. We have already commissioned hydropower stations with a capacity of 170 megawatts. By the end of next year, it will already be 270 megawatts. Within two to three years, it will be 500 megawatts of hydropower station, another important contribution to the green energy transition.

In general, Karabakh, East Zangezur and Nakhchivan have already been declared a green energy zone. There is a significant potential to use our natural resources, one of which is apparently the wind. Because wind has always been a source of some problems, especially when landing. But now wind is a natural resource. So, it was maybe difficult to imagine some 10-20 years ago. But now, it is the case, and the wind in the Caspian is much stronger. And even today, here at this venue, the wind demonstrates that this potential is here.

So, these are the plans for the future. Of course, these investments will allow us to save a lot of natural gas, which we use now to produce electricity. And it's several billion cubic meters of natural gas, which will be saved for export because the Azerbaijani gas is needed more than ever in Europe due to recent geopolitical changes.

We have commissioned major transportation infrastructure on time, 3,500 kilometers gas pipeline from Caspian offshore fields to Europe. And that will be another contribution to the energy security of the broader region.

Of course, among our plans is to work actively with our partners to create an energy corridor - Caspian-EU Energy Corridor. Last December, a corresponding agreement was signed. We have already started our activity. The steering committee has already gathered a couple of times. In several months, we will have a complete feasibility study of the new energy security project – Green Energy Corridor, integrated transmission production and consumption facilities, including the electric cable under the Black Sea. Currently, the feasibility study is being prepared for 4 gigawatts of renewables.

So, these are our plans, and our history of independence demonstrates that all our plans come true not only in the energy area but also in all fields. Because we have political will, we have unity in our society. We have great partners and friends like the UAE and companies from the UAE.

So, I'm sure that we will achieve all our goals and have many more ceremonies like that in the future. Once again, I would like to express gratitude to our guests for being with us and congratulate all of us on this remarkable event.

Thank you very much.

x x x

Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology of the United Arab Emirates Sultan Ahmad Al Jaber addressed the ceremony.

Then, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology of the United Arab Emirates Sultan Ahmad Al Jaber launched the Garadagh Solar PV Plant.

Made by Masdar company, the commemorative medal dedicated to the 100th anniversary of National Leader Heydar Aliyev was presented to President Ilham Aliyev.

They posed together for a group photo.