Baku. 2 December. REPORT.AZ/ As oil and gas-rich Azerbaijan is set to significantly step up expansion of the country’s renewables, the recent news on a 200-MW wind farm project in the Caspian Sea has generated a lot of buzz. If the capacity is fully installed, the facility will be an impressive addition to the country’s 66.7 MW of wind currently.
Report informs referring to the SeeNews Renewables, the 200-MW, EUR-392-million (USD 415m) wind farm project in the Caspian Sea has been submitted for deliberation to the government of Azerbaijan. Several ministries, including of the environment and energy, have reportedly already given positive feedback on the project.
One month after the announcement, Jamil Malikov, deputy head of the State Agency for Alternative and Renewable Energy Sources of Azerbaijan, cautions that the milestone project is subject to amendments.
“Although the Azerbaijani Government has given its approval for the project, which is urgent to get investors interested, it is subject to corrections pending feasibility study and availability of investors. The 200-MW project is in fact one of multiple wind projects we want to go after in the coming years,” Malikov pointed out. “The study is due next year.”
But the Agency wants to take on wind harnessing slowly, applying a step-by-step approach. “Now the work has been focused in two directions: introducing the 200-MW project to governmental institutions and, simultaneously, looking for investors for it,” the official said.
The state’s share in the wind project’s budget is expected to be in the range of 10% to 15%, but the contribution may vary depending on how much investors will chip in.
“For the moment, we do not have any agreements with possible investors signed. But we are in talks with investors from Germany, China and some Arab countries in the neighbourhood,” Malikov told SeeNews.
He hinted that some of the possible investors have already expressed wishes to see wind turbines of their selection installed at sea off Azeri capital Baku.
If the Caspian Sea country does not find appropriate investors, it will be pursuing the scheme itself through separate legs, the official insisted.
Malikov said that what makes the 200-MW wind project unique is that technologies usually applied for construction of ground-based wind power plants will be used for the offshore wind facility.
“That will enable us to significantly reduce the costs and the term of the construction will shorten,” Malikov emphasized. “We want to implement the project within three years.”
Despite its fossil fuel riches, Azerbaijan has set a target of 20% of generation from renewable resources by 2020. It is estimated to equal 2,000 MW of operational renewable energy capacity. One third of this is expected to be coming from wind.
Today, total capacity of the Azerbaijani energy system is estimated at about 7,200 MW and the potential of renewable energy sources in the country is thought to be around 12,000 MW. Solar energy’s potential is estimated at 5,000 MW, wind energy - 4,500 MW, biomass - 1,500 MW, geothermal energy - 800 MW, and 350 MW would come from small hydro power plants.
“The long-recorded meteorological data show that the annual velocity of usually northern wind in the Absheron peninsula in Azerbaijan is very high with the enhanced effect from the Caspian Mountains and Caspian Sea. So the potential of wind power is really promising. We believe that the potential of wind power installations at sea can be around 2,000 MW in the future,” Malikov believes.
An assessment by East Invest, a regional investment and trade facilitation project for the economic development of the Eastern Neighbourhood region, launched in the framework of the European Eastern Partnership initiative, says that the wind blowing in Azerbaijan more than 250 days per year may generate 2.4 billion kWh of electricity annually is “the country’s preferred option” because of its lower cost, environmental soundness and unlimited availability.
The German-Azerbaijani Chamber of Commerce has also pledged its help for wind energy development in Azerbaijan.