Inside Story: Azerbaijan, Europe, and Green Transformation
The Sustainable Value Hub brought decision-makers from Azerbaijan, the European Union, and beyond to Brussels as part of the EU’s Green Week 2023. They discussed how a nation that has emerged as one of the most significant oil and gas suppliers to the EU is also paving the way for a green transition and developing into a sustainable energy source, reports Political Editor Nick Powell.
Vaqif Sadiqov, the ambassador of Azerbaijan to the EU, said at an EU Green Week event that focused on the potential for cooperation and growth through sustainable investment in his country, “We can mitigate climate change through solidarity and partnership.” Azerbaijan provides 5% of Europe’s oil and gas needs, making it a dependable energy supplier. Growing a competitive economy sustainably and upholding environmental cleanliness are its top priorities.
The Directorate-General for International Partnerships of the European Commission’s Henrik Hololei argued that the transformation was desirable and unavoidable. Investors increasingly value sustainability in addition to the stability and rule of law that Azerbaijan could provide. In line with the Ambassador’s remarks, he stated that the EU sought to advance connectivity, energy, and transportation with Azerbaijan “in a spirit of partnership” through its Global Gateway project.
Along with the enormous potential for solar and wind energy, Mr. Hololei saw enormous potential in Azerbaijan for the production of green hydrogen, which is necessary to decarbonize heavy industry. Elshan Abdulazimov, the energy counselor at the Azerbaijani embassy, said discussions were in their early stages but were already underway as part of the Green Dialogue with the European Union. The EU intends to import as much green hydrogen as it anticipates producing in the member states.
Mr. Abdulazimov pointed out that the definition of sustainability was “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the future generations.” Currently, 80% of the world’s resource consumption is accounted for by 20% of the population. Given that the EU accounted for half of Azerbaijan’s exports, the European targets were crucial. The new carbon adjustment mechanism needed to receive a favorable response from his nation.
According to Pierre Tardieu, Chief Policy Officer at Wind Europe, Azerbaijan is a powerhouse in the energy sector with the know-how to diversify. He claimed that the nation had a competitive advantage, particularly in the fields of wind energy and clean hydrogen. His point is supported by data provided by Azpromo, the Azerbaijan Export and Investment Promotion Agency.
There are currently three 710-megawatt solar and wind power plants being built by foreign investors. Large hydropower plants and other renewable energy sources can currently generate 1,304.5 megawatts or 17.3% of the total capacity. The ambitious goal is to increase the production of renewable electricity to 30% of the nation’s total energy balance by 2030.
With an estimated 157 gigawatts of potential, the Caspian Sea offers a tremendous amount of offshore wind energy. 23 gigawatts of solar energy are the main potential energy sources on land. Electricity export to Europe is planned via a cable that travels through Georgia and the Black Sea.
On the rapidly expanding Middle Corridor between Asia and Europe, which also serves as a route for essential raw materials and finished goods as well as energy, Azerbaijan serves as a key hub for transportation and logistics. The European Union is conducting a fresh outreach to the nations of Central Asia, according to Ambassador Sadiqov. He stated that it was critical to look beyond conventional divisions into areas like Central Asia and the South Caucasus and that Azerbaijan would be happy to participate in the EU’s advancement in that region.
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Geopolitics, according to Henrk Hololei of the European Commission, is not just about regions but also about connecting regions. He said that after Russia began its full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022, the world would never be the same.