Wednesday, 10 May 2023 12:40

Masdar's Country Manager for Azerbaijan: We see the untapped potential the country has to offer

Caspian Energy (CE): Masdar has recently opened an office in Baku. What is Masdar and how does this reflect the growth of the renewable energy sector in both Azerbaijan, and internationally?

Murad Sadikhov, Country Manager - Azerbaijan, Masdar:  Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (Masdar) is the UAE’s clean energy champion and one of the largest companies of its kind in the world, advancing the development and deployment of renewable energy and green hydrogen technologies to address global sustainability challenges. Established in 2006, Masdar is today active in over 40 countries, helping to achieve clean energy objectives and advance sustainable development. Masdar is jointly owned by Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), Mubadala Investment Company (Mubadala), and Abu Dhabi National Energy Company (TAQA), and is targeting a renewable energy portfolio capacity of at least 100 gigawatts (GW) by 2030 and an annual green hydrogen production capacity of up to 1 million tonnes by the same year.

We had the honor of opening Masdar’s office in Baku in February this year, an important milestone in strengthening our presence in Azerbaijan and representing the deepening of ties between the country and the UAE. It is a recognition of the country’s increasing focus on renewable energy and its commitment to delivering on the nation’s ambitious clean energy targets. Our office will enable Masdar to work closely with the government and other stakeholders to accelerate the growth of Azerbaijan’s clean energy sector.

Globally, the renewable energy sector is experiencing unprecedented growth – with renewables accounting for more than 80 percent of all additional new power generation capacity in 2022. However, as was made clear at COP27 in Egypt last year, much more needs to be done if a future climate crisis is to be avoided. The development of renewable energy varies significantly from region to region, and country to country. With a track record in commercializing clean energy, Masdar is committed to supporting Azerbaijan and other countries scale up their renewable energy technologies and decarbonize their economies.

CE: Azerbaijan is pursuing a national target of producing 30 percent of its domestic power needs from renewable energy sources by 2030. How is Masdar committed to supporting this vision?

Murad Sadikhov:  Azerbaijan has been known as the birthplace of the oil industry since ancient times. The first industrial method of extracting oil was introduced in 1846, when a well in the Bibiheybat oil field was drilled to a depth of 21 meters. During the early stages of the oil industry, Azerbaijan was the testing ground for most of the innovations in the field. Presently, Azerbaijan is a dependable supplier of conventional energy resources to the global market, with a determined leadership that is committed to developing a clean and sustainable energy sector in the country.

Azerbaijan plans to increase its installed power capacity to 30 percent from renewable sources by 2030, in order to diversify its economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Government has targeted developing renewable energy sources as a strategic priority for the country’s development and is looking to become a center of renewable energy and a reliable clean energy exporter.

Despite having the world’s seventh largest reserves of oil and natural gas, the UAE has taken bold steps to diversify its energy mix and economy and is a global leader in clean energy. Masdar is aiding Azerbaijan in its efforts to integrate renewable energy technologies into its economy and make significant progress in this field.

In 2022, Masdar signed two implementation agreements with the Ministry of Energy of the Republic of Azerbaijan to develop renewable energy projects with a combined capacity of 4 GW which included the development of 1 GW of onshore wind, 1 GW of onshore solar photovoltaic (PV) and 2 GW of offshore wind projects.

Jointly with Azerbaijan counterparts from Ministry of Energy, SOCAR and Azerenergy, Masdar is leading a group of reputable international and local experts to work out a detailed master plan for the improvement and resilience of the national grid and to foster interconnections with neighboring countries. This comprehensive clean energy export strategy will contribute to Azerbaijan’s ambition to diversify its economy and create a solid basis for clean energy export in the years to come.  

Masdar also has a series of projects under development to support Azerbaijan achieve its decarbonization objectives. At Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW) earlier this year, Masdar signed an initial joint development agreement with SOCAR to develop significant solar and wind capacity, in addition to establishing integrated offshore wind and green hydrogen projects. Through these strategic investments and partnerships, Masdar is committed to enabling Azerbaijan to succeed in delivering its clean energy targets and a sustainable future for its people.

CE: What are the opportunities for renewable energy development in Azerbaijan?

Murad Sadikhov:  By setting its 2030 clean energy target, the government has created significant opportunity for Azerbaijan to diversify its economy and secure sustainable, reliable, and affordable power for its people and industries.

At Masdar, we see the untapped potential the country has to offer and believe there is ample opportunity to develop a vibrant renewable energy sector, harnessing the country’s natural resources through multiple clean technologies.

Azerbaijan has several growth areas that we are interested in, including onshore and offshore wind, solar, and green hydrogen. The country’s geographic location on the Caspian Sea, allows for natural resources to be easily leveraged to diversify the nation’s energy portfolio.

International public and private sector investment will play a key part in enabling Azerbaijan to access the capital and technologies required to develop its renewables sector in addition to increase its economic competitiveness. As a leading global energy company, Masdar can support Azerbaijan develop its renewables sector not only through providing finance, but also through sharing extensive technical knowledge through its legacy in delivering innovative clean energy solutions.

CE: There has been a lot of Masdar activity in Azerbaijan recently. Could you please provide an overview of the various Masdar projects currently underway in Azerbaijan?

Murad Sadikhov:  Masdar has a number of exciting projects planned and underway in Azerbaijan across a range of renewable energy technologies. To date, joint development agreements have been signed for wind and solar projects, and integrated offshore wind and green hydrogen projects with a total combined capacity of 4 GW. The projects are part of a larger agreement with Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Energy to develop a renewable energy program, on a bilateral basis, with a total capacity of 10 GW.

Already under development is the 230 megawatt (MW) Garadagh Solar PV Plant. The plant will help to generate half a billion kilowatt-hours of electricity annually, which is enough to meet the needs of more than 110,000 homes. Furthermore, the plant will reduce emissions by more than 200,000 tonnes a year and help create valuable jobs for the local market. The Garadagh project is Azerbaijan’s first foreign investment-based independent utility scale solar project, structured as a public-private partnership.

 

CE: Expanding the renewable energy sector globally is of critical importance. What is Masdar doing internationally to facilitate the energy transition?

Murad Sadikhov:   As a global clean energy leader, Masdar is proud to be active in more than 40 countries across six continents and is committed to investing in worldwide projects with a combined value of over US$30 billion. With a goal of achieving 100 GW renewable energy capacity and green hydrogen production of 1 million tonnes per annum by 2030, we are helping to spearhead the UAE’s Net Zero by 2050 Strategic Initiative and the global energy transition.

Masdar’s establishment and evolution are part of a cycle of growth and innovation that was set in motion by the UAE’s visionary leadership. Late last year, we announced the completion of a new structure which unites three UAE energy champions - Mubadala, ADNOC, and TAQA - as shareholders in Masdar. This new global clean energy powerhouse is able to harness decades of experience across various technologies to enable Masdar to achieve its growth targets and emerge as a global leader in clean energy and green hydrogen.

CE: This year marked the 15th year of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, what is the importance of such events for international partnerships?

Murad Sadikhov: ADSW is rooted in the firm belief that global challenges can only be addressed through collaboration, therefore opportunities like these are crucial to drive momentum and action. ADSW plays a vital role in bringing together heads of state, policymakers, industry leaders, civil society, investors and entrepreneurs from all regions of the world to discuss, engage in, and debate climate action and innovations that can deliver a sustainable future for all. 

ADSW 2023 was attended by the President of Azerbaijan, HE Ilham Aliyev who delivered a keynote address. Alongside this, Masdar signed a joint development agreement with the State Oil Company of the Republic of Azerbaijan (SOCAR), for onshore wind and solar projects, and integrated offshore wind and green hydrogen projects, with a total combined capacity of 4 GW.

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