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Azerbaijan unleashes green energy potential in Garabagh

Nazrin Abdul

Taking a significant step towards environmental stewardship, Azerbaijan has declared 2024 as the “Year of Solidarity for a Green World”, which is in line with its strategic vision of sustainable socio-economic development by 2030. One of the country’s five main priorities currently focuses on becoming a “A country of clean environment and green growth”, emphasizing initiatives to improve environmental quality, enhance greenery and ensure responsible management of water resources and sustainable energy.

Under this ambitious program, regions including liberated Garabagh, Eastern Zangazur and Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic have been designated as green energy zones. Amid ongoing recovery and rehabilitation efforts in these areas, environmental protection remains of the utmost importance, especially in restoring forests devastated by decades of enemy vandalism and destruction.

Azerbaijan’s commitment to environmental protection also includes combating the rampant vandalism that has plagued its lands for three decades. From forests to national parks and nature reserves, valuable ecosystems have been destroyed, requiring urgent action to preserve biodiversity and restore ecological balance.

Using innovative solutions, Azerbaijan is a pioneer in projects such as “Smart Village” and “Smart City”, which aim to meet contemporary ecological challenges. Using cutting-edge technologies, these initiatives aim to optimize energy distribution, improve waste management, reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality, especially in the Karabakh region.

In taking a key step towards transitioning to green energy, Azerbaijan has benefited from the knowledge and experience of international consulting firms and companies such as TEPSCO from Japan. Together, they developed a comprehensive concept paper outlining strategies to harness the abundant renewable energy potential in the liberated territories, promoting environmentally friendly practices and energy-saving technologies.

Central to this vision is the creation of Green Energy Zones that prioritize renewable energy production, energy efficiency measures and the deployment of electric vehicles. From solar panels adorning rooftops to solar-powered LED streetlights, Azerbaijan is poised to revolutionize energy consumption and waste management, paving the way to a sustainable future.

At the forefront of climate action, Azerbaijan advocates a circular economy model to maximize resource efficiency and minimize environmental impact. By promoting patterns of sustainable production and consumption, the nation aims to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals while combating climate change and supporting innovation.

Azerbaijan’s successful implementation of green initiatives in previously occupied territories is a testament to its commitment to environmental resilience. By aiming to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 35% by 2030 and 40% by 2050 compared to 1990 levels, Azerbaijan is emphasizing its role as a pioneer in the green energy economy.

Beyond symbolic gestures, Azerbaijan’s environmental conservation efforts reflect its unwavering commitment to supporting a greener and healthier future for future generations. By translating strategic environmental decisions into tangible results, Azerbaijan emerges as a beacon of sustainable development, offering a blueprint for global environmental governance.

Karabakh and eastern Zangezur are true renewable power plants, boasting a solar energy potential of 7,200 megawatts and 2,000 megawatts of wind energy. These regions are not only rich in renewable resources, but also crucial to Azerbaijan’s water supply, providing approximately 25% of the country’s internal water resources, totaling 2 billion 560 million cubic meters per year. Fuzuli, Jabrayil, Zangilan and Gubadli have significant solar energy potential, while wind energy is developing in the mountainous areas of Lachin and Kalbajar, where rivers such as Tartarchay, Bazarchay and Hekarichay have enormous hydropower potential.

President Ilham Aliyev’s vision of the entire Karabakh zone becoming a “green energy” center highlights the strategic importance of using renewable energy sources. Solar and wind energy are emerging as the main pillars of the “green energy” concept, harnessing the enormous potential of liberated territories to not only meet local energy demand, but also facilitate energy transfer to neighboring regions.

Solar radiation levels are rivaled only by Nakhchivan MR, with districts such as Zangilan, Jabrayil, Gubadli and Fuzuli boasting annual solar radiation of 1,600-1,700 kilowatt-hours per square meter. This translates into a solar energy potential ranging from 3,000 to 4,000 megawatts, paving the way for precise assessment through the deployment of measuring observation stations.

Aghdam, known for its abundant sunshine, is emerging as a focal point for solar energy use, and plans are underway for the widespread use of solar power and other renewable energy sources. Meanwhile, Karabakh’s mountainous terrain is characterized by favorable conditions for wind energy, with an average annual wind speed of 7-8 meters per second, reaching up to 10 meters per second in border areas such as Kalbajar and Lachin. Initial estimates indicate a wind energy potential of up to 500 megawatts, which will be able to power over 100,000 households.

Cooperation with foreign entities in the liberated territories is of strategic importance, strengthening economic ties and accelerating the comprehensive reconstruction of regions devastated by the Armenian occupation. Moreover, the presence of thermal water resources in Kalbajar and Shusha opens up opportunities to explore their potential for energy generation.

These abundant resources are paving the way for transformative energy projects in previously occupied regions, strengthening Azerbaijan’s commitment to sustainable development. Through meticulous planning and sequential implementation, Azerbaijan is poised to usher in a new era of energy independence and environmental resilience in its liberated territories.

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