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President Ilham Aliyev attended official opening ceremony of 230 MW Garadagh Solar PV Plant VIDEO

Baku, October 26, AZERTAC

An official inauguration of the 230 MW Garadagh Solar PV Plant has been held.

President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev attended the ceremony.

The head of state addressed the event.

The ceremony first featured the screening of a video highlighting the work done in the Garadagh Solar PV Plant.

On 6 April 2021, the Investment, Power Purchase and Transmission Connection agreements were signed between the Ministry of Energy of Azerbaijan, Azerenergy OJSC and Masdar company of the United Arab Emirates. A groundbreaking ceremony for the plant was held in the Gulustan Palace on 15 March 2022 with the participation of President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev.

The Garadagh Solar PV Plant is the largest solar power plant in the Caspian region and the CIS. The plant was built at the expense of foreign investment worth $262 million.

 Speech by President Ilham Aliyev

- Dear ministers.

Dear guests.

Ladies and gentlemen.

Last March we were participating in the groundbreaking ceremony of the solar power plant. The video that was just shown demonstrates the historical moment in our history. Because that was a start, I am sure, of a big journey of our two brotherly countries. Today, we are very proud to see that in a relatively short period of time, something more than a year and a half, this empty part of Absheron Peninsula became the source of green energy. This is a remarkable achievement. I'd like to congratulate Masdar, its leadership for this outstanding contribution to the development of Azerbaijan and also to commitment to our country with respect to the green transition.

Today, among our guests, we are proud to see four ministers of the UAE government, and also a big delegation from brotherly country. This is a good example of our partnership and friendship and also it demonstrates that both countries pay big importance to today`s ceremony. First, because as it was already shown, it's the largest in the region and second, because it is, as I already said, only the beginning.

We have big plans and I'm sure that friendly and brotherly relations between UAE and Azerbaijan will continue to develop successfully. I'm sure that there'll be more projects. Later today we will be actually witnessing the signing ceremony of three investment agreements, which will lead to the production of one gigawatt of renewables in a very short period of time. So, we consider today's event as a bright example of brotherly relations between UAE and Azerbaijan.

I would like to express gratitude to our dear guests for being with us today. I’d like to express special gratitude to Masdar, the company which trusted Azerbaijan, decided to start large-scale investments in renewables and will make it possible for Azerbaijan to achieve its goals with respect to green agenda. Today's project is the first among many to come.

As I said, three investment agreements will be signed today, but our plans are much broader. We plan to work together to produce in phases up to 10 gigawatts of renewables and that will be a total revolution in the energy development of the region, because Azerbaijan is a country where the first oil in the world was produced in the middle of 19th century. The first oil from offshore fields was produced in the middle of the last century. And now, having in mind that still we are rich in fossil fuel resources, we are moving towards green agenda. This is a deliberate choice. This is our contribution not only to the future development of Azerbaijan, but to the issues related to the climate change.

So, I'm very hopeful and absolutely sure that all our plans will be implemented. Today's ceremony actually demonstrates that. And also I hope that today's ceremony will be a good example and will send a good signal to many more companies from UAE to come to work with us. I know that recently, our national oil companies, energy companies ADNOC and SOCAR already became officially partners in Azerbaijan. I know that there are plans to work together in UAE and in other countries. So, we see now that the development of cooperation between our countries, governmental structures and companies is really elevating at the new stage.

Azerbaijan is a very friendly country for foreign investments. We enjoyed multibillion investment portfolio during last three decades. Total investments in Azerbaijan were more than 300 billion US dollars and almost 200 billion US dollars investments in the non-oil sector. This is our economic target now to continue to diversify our economy to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. But at the same time, we understand that our oil and gas for many more years will be needed for the international market. For that purpose, multiple pipeline oil and gas pipeline systems have been commissioned, and now we export our oil and gas in different directions. Azerbaijan is the exporter of oil, natural gas, oil products, petrochemicals, electricity to international markets.

Of course, in the coming years we will export hydrogen, including green hydrogen. For that purpose, we are working very closely with our partners, companies from different countries of the world in order to create this potential.

With respect to investment climate of Azerbaijan, I already mentioned, Azerbaijan`s economy is very stable. During the last 20 years, our GDP grew more than four times. We managed to reduce our direct foreign debt to the level below 10% of GDP and reduce level of poverty, which was close to 50% 20 years ago, down to 5.5%.

So, it demonstrates that the fair distribution of the revenues coming from oil and gas exports create absolutely new reality. In the coming years, we are planning to implement the state program, which provides reinforcement of our national energy grid in a short period of time. This is absolutely necessary. Because I mentioned only projects, which we are planning to implement with Masdar. There are many other investment proposals and some of them are already in the face of implementation.

So, we will definitely need to reinforce our national energy grid and as I said, the state program is being implemented. We will do everything on time. We already allocated financial resources so that our investors, which produce renewable source of energy, feel themselves absolutely comfortable.

At the same time, I'd like to inform you that our renewable energy agenda is not limited only with solar or wind power stations. We are actively developing now our hydro energy potential in the liberated three years ago territories of Karabakh and Eastern Zangazur. We already commissioned hydropower stations of the capacity of 170 megawatts, and by the end of next year, it will be already 270 megawatts and within two-three years, it will be 500 megawatts of hydropower station, which will be another important contribution to the green energy transition.

And in general, Karabakh, Eastern Zangazur and Nakhchivan are being already announced the green energy zone. There is a big potential to use our natural resources, which apparently the wind became. Because wind has always been a source of some problems, especially when landing. But now wind is a natural resource.

So, it was maybe difficult to imagine some 10-20 years ago. But now, it is the case and especially wind in the Caspian is much more stronger, but even wind today here demonstrates that this potential is here.

So, these are the plans for the future. Of course, these investments will allow us to save a lot of natural gas, which we use now to produce electricity. And it's several billion cubic meters of natural gas, which will be saved for export. Because the Azerbaijani gas is needed more than ever before in Europe due to recent geopolitical changes.

We have commissioned major transportation infrastructure on time, 3,500 kilometers gas pipeline from Caspian offshore fields to Europe. And that will be another contribution to energy security of the broader region.

Of course, among our plans is to work actively with our partners to create energy corridor, Caspian-EU energy corridor. Last December, a corresponding agreement was signed. We have already started our activity, the steering committee already gathered couple of times. In several months, we will have a full feasibility study of the new energy security project – Green Energy Corridor, integrated transmission production and consumption facilities, including the electric cable under the Black Sea. At this moment, the feasibility study is being prepared for 4 gigawatts of renewables.

So, these are our plans, and our history of independence demonstrates that all our plans come true not only in the energy area, but also in all fields. Because we have political will, we have unity in our society. We have great partners and friends like UAE, and companies from UAE.

So, I'm sure that we will achieve all our goals, and we'll have many more ceremonies like that in the future. Once again, I'd like to express gratitude to our guests for being with us, and congratulate all of us on this remarkable event.

Thank you very much.

x x x

Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology of the United Arab Emirates Sultan Ahmad Al Jaber addressed the ceremony.

Then, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology of the United Arab Emirates Sultan Ahmad Al Jaber launched the Garadagh Solar PV Plant.

Made by Masdar company, the commemorative medal dedicated to the 100th anniversary of National Leader Heydar Aliyev was presented to President Ilham Aliyev.

They posed together for a group photo.

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