From its significance to the silk trade routes in the 13th century, to its rise as a great energy producer during the first oil boom of the 19th century, Azerbaijan has long been known for its geo-strategic position in the world.
Today, with the successful completion of the Baku–Tbilisi–Ceyhan pipeline, this has never been truer.
Estimates now show Azerbaijan to possess approximately 243 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
With this wealth of resources in mind, the country is making efforts to diversify and strengthen its energy sector. Azerbaijan must think beyond dependence on fossil fuels, and prioritize the development of more sustainable and environmentally friendly energy resources.
Addressing the problem of recourse dependence, the Government established the State Agency on Alternative and Renewable Energy Sources, and has partnered with UNDP in Azerbaijan, the European Commission, and the Norwegian Government to implement an ambitious project to spur alternative energy research and development.
This project is focused on cultivating a number of alternative energy sources, including the development of the enormous energy potential from wind power along the Caspian coastline, the increased production of biogas from poultry and livestock industries, and the ongoing development of solar and thermal energy.
A large part of the project’s focus is in harnessing those resources that are unique to Azerbaijan’s climate and geography.
One of the core components, and a major highlight of the project, is the work we’re carrying out in the northern region of Sheki, where ground is about to be broken on a small hydroelectric power station.
We’re developing this technology which will run alongside a preexisting hydro-electric power station.
The aim here is to evaluate the economics of installing a smaller, more environmentally friendly electric energy producing unit, and on that basis, to assess the replicability potential of the project in other small rivers and streams in Azerbaijan.
Furthermore, this pilot hydro-power unit will be a good experience for AzalternativeEnergy, a national investment agency in renewable energy, when building similar stations throughout the country.
While hydro-electric power is not a new concept in Azerbaijan, it is one of the most underutilized energy sources in Azerbaijan.
If it continues to value sustainability and work to invest in the future, Azerbaijan will be prepared to face this and many other challenges.
At home, this acknowledgement of alternative energy as a critical focus in the modern era reflects the nation’s commitment to the well-being of its people and its economy.
Abroad, it sets a precedent for developing nations all over the globe. And it shows that Azerbaijan’s prominence comes from much more than its oil.