The Considerable Potential For Renewable Energy In The Caspian Region
The Greater Caspian Region has tremendous wind, solar, and hydropower potential that should be harnessed to meet these countries’ growing electricity needs. Long — and rightly associated with oil and gas production, the countries of the Caspian region have been looking at and using renewables, particularly hydro. However, even a quick review of the region’s significant untapped capacity argues that in addition to hydropower, decisionmakers need to look more at their considerable and easily available resources for solar- and wind-generated electricity. No longer “exotic” or “untested,” solar and wind technologies are established and competitive with other forms of electricity generation in terms of price as well as practicality. Utilizing these resources can create jobs and, for hydrocarbon-rich countries such as Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan, provide needed energy while freeing up oil and natural gas for export sales. Moreover, increasing the use of renewables, factoring them into efforts to modernize national electrical grids, and developing regional strategies for supplying electricity will also help address domestic pollution concerns and lower greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, agencies such as USAID, the U.S. Export-Import Bank (EXIM), and the new U.S. Development Finance Corporation (DFC), as well as the World Bank and other international financial institutions, can help countries better capture the region’s renewable energy resources.