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Azerbaijan’s Karabakh Region To “Go Green”

By Ilham Karimli May 19, 2022

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The Istisu thermal spring in the Kalbajar region of Azerbaijan / Courtesy

The Azerbaijani government has identified the transformation of the country’s Karabakh (Garabagh) region into a green energy zone as a priority within the ongoing reconstruction and development projects in the liberated territories.

Azerbaijan’s Deputy Energy Minister Elnur Soltanov said on Tuesday that renewable energy sources would play a key role in supplying the energy needs of the Karabakh region.

“25 percent of Azerbaijan’s drinking water sources are concentrated in Karabakh, which gives reason to say that the hydropower potential in Karabakh is huge. Karabakh’s energy supply will be provided by renewable energy sources,” Soltanov said at the European Union-Azerbaijan Business Forum in Baku.

According to him, four small hydroelectric power plants have been put into operation in the liberated lands so far, and five more with the capacity of 25-30 MW will be operational soon. The goal of the Azerbaijani government is to transform the region fully into a green energy zone by 2050, as well as reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 40 percent.

Renewables are expected to make up 30 percent of Azerbaijan’s electricity generation by 2030. Estimates put the renewable energy potential of Azerbaijan at 37,000 MW — around ten thousand of which was unveiled after the liberation of the country’s territories from Armenian occupation in 2020.

The potential of wind power in Azerbaijan stands at 59.2 percent of overall renewable sources, according to a report published by the German-Azerbaijani Chamber of Commerce. The same publication cited solar power as the second-largest green energy source in the country, with a total of 8,000 MW potential. Biomass, geothermal, and hydropower (excluding large hydropower stations) were also cited as promising renewables at 900 MW, 800 MW, and 650 MW, respectively.

The alternative energy potential of the liberated territories of Azerbaijan includes almost all types of renewable energy sources, including hydro, solar, wind, and geothermal.

After the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, the Fuzuli, Jabrayil, and Zangilan regions of Azerbaijan come in at number two for their rich solar power resources. The solar radiation per square meter in these regions is reportedly 1600-1700 kW/hour per year, while the total solar energy potential is estimated at 7,200 megawatts.

The wind energy potential of the liberated territories is seen primarily in the Kalbajar and Lachin districts. According to data released by the Energy Ministry of Azerbaijan, the average annual wind speed in these regions reaches 10 meters per second. The potential of wind energy in the mountainous areas of the Karabakh region is estimated at 2,000 megawatts.

Meanwhile, there are also 4,000-5,000 cubic meters of thermal water per day in the territory of the Kalbajar, Lachin, and Shusha districts.