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baku energy week: main developments and takeaways

Baku Energy Week: Main Developments and Takeaways

Author: Toghrul Ali

Jun 13, 2023

Image source: Twitter Georgian Embassy in Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan hosted the 28th annual Baku Energy Week, May 31-June 3. Bringing together high-level representatives of relevant ministries and international organizations, and executives of companies in the energy sector, Baku Energy Week consists of the International Caspian Oil & Gas Exhibition, the Caspian International Power and Green Energy Exhibition, and the Baku Energy Forum. 326 corporations from 37 countries participated in the exhibitions, which became a platform for bilateral and multilateral cooperation among the attending entities. Significant agreements were reached during the Baku Energy Week, addressing global energy security, promoting diversification, and advancing transition goals. 

In his opening speech, President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan highlighted the historical significance of the Caspian Oil and Gas Exhibition in 1994, emphasizing that it served as the inaugural event to introduce Azerbaijan to the global energy community. Aliyev thanked President of the United States Joe Biden and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Rishi Sunak for sending their messages through their representatives that emphasized the significance of Azerbaijan's burgeoning role in diversifying global energy supplies. In this regard, Aliyev stressed that Azerbaijan has become a reliable partner of Europe amid the energy crisis that has beset the region. Aliyev specifically pointed out that since last year’s Baku Energy Week, more European countries have been actively cooperating with Azerbaijan, resulting in the signing of several important agreements such as the inauguration of the Greece-Bulgaria Interconnector and the agreement on constructing the Black Sea submarine electricity cable. He also mentioned that Azerbaijan is expected to start delivering its natural gas to Hungary and Serbia by the end of 2023, through the expansion of the Southern Gas Corridor via the Trans-Balkan pipeline system. 

Several European states were represented in the forums and exhibitions. While southern and southeastern European countries such as Albania, Bulgaria, and Romania have been among the biggest proponents of importing Azerbaijani natural gas, the event also included representatives from central, western, and northern European states. On the sidelines of the Baku Energy Week, Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Energy discussed the development of cooperation opportunities with the Czech Republic’s Ministry of Industry and Trade, namely the cooperation perspectives with Czech companies in the production of small hydropower production projects (SHPP), solar panels, and wind turbines in the liberated territories of Azerbaijan. 

The topic of renewables and green energy production was at the center of the discussions for the Caspian International Power and Green Energy Exhibition. “We feel ourselves as part of the huge transformation process, transformation in energy sector, and of course, Azerbaijan wants here also not to be left behind - we want to be among the front runners when it comes to the area of renewables,” Aliyev emphasized in his speech. In this line, the Azerbaijani Ministry of Energy signed the following agreements with foreign companies and governments to develop Azerbaijan’s renewable energy production infrastructure:

  • Implementation agreement with the United Arab Emirates-based Masdar on the evaluation, development, and implementation of 1 GW utility-scale onshore solar and wind energy projects and of 2 GW integrated wind and green hydrogen.
  • Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with London-based Nobel Energy Management on the construction of a 400MW solar power plant in the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic of Azerbaijan  and the export of electricity to be generated to the Republic of Türkiye
  • MoU with Nobel Energy Management on cooperation in the evaluation and implementation of 250MW onshore wind and 250MW solar power plants in the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic
  • MoU with Italy-based Maire Tecnimont on strengthening cooperation and exploring opportunities for cooperation in areas such as low-carbon technologies, energy production from waste, green hydrogen, and biofuels, as well as reducing methane emissions.
  • Addendum to the Implementation Agreement with British Petroleum (BP) originally signed in 2021 on cooperation for the next steps towards joint implementation of the 240MW Shafag Solar Power Plant in Jabrayil. 
  • MoU with China Gezhouba Group Overseas Investment on the implementation of renewable energy projects with a capacity of 2 GW.

These developments demonstrate both Azerbaijan’s willingness to reduce its hydrocarbon dependence by diversifying its energy mix, as well as the interest of foreign energy companies and governments in tapping into the Caspian region’s vast renewable potential.

As part of the Baku Energy Week, Azerbaijan’s Energy Minister Parviz Shahbazov held a number of meetings with Western partners, including the United States and the European Union (EU). Further expansion and development of the supply capacity of the Southern Gas Corridor was the reoccurring theme in these meetings, per Azerbaijan’s MoU signed with the EU in July 2022 to double its natural gas exports to Europe.  During the meeting with U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Resources Geoffrey Pyatt, Minister Shahbazov also discussed cooperation in reducing methane emissions and potential opportunities for the production of green energy from the Caspian Sea. Shahbazov also met with the Director for Energy Policy, Strategy, and Coordination at the European Commission (EC) Cristina Lobillo Borrero. The two sides exchanged views on the expansion of the Southern Gas Corridor, the Caspian-European Green Energy Corridor, as well as on financing opportunities for energy projects such as the Black Sea submarine electricity cable.

A surprising aspect of the Baku Energy Week was the notable presence of representatives from the Chinese government and China-based energy companies. While the cooperation between China and Azerbaijan dates back to the formalization of Belt and Road Initiative between Azerbaijan and China in 2015, it has mainly focused on the areas of connectivity, trade, and telecommunications. During the Baku Energy Week, Azerbaijan’s Minister of Economy and executives of the state-owned energy company SOCAR held meetings with the representatives of Chinese energy companies such as Envision Energy and China Energy International Group to discuss the use of new technologies and innovative mechanisms in the field of renewable energy sources, energy efficiency measures, and the establishment of a zero-emission industrial park in Azerbaijan. These developments signify the considerable renewable energy potential not only in Azerbaijan but also throughout the Caspian region, making it an attractive investment destination for Chinese energy companies. 

Looking ahead, the future implementation of several agreements within the framework of the Baku Energy Week will further reinforce the importance of Azerbaijan’s growing role in diversifying global energy supplies. Projects such as the Black Sea electricity cable can establish a corridor for sustainable energy between the Caspian region and Europe, while simultaneously diversifying Georgia and Azerbaijan’s energy mixes. Cooperation and joint agreements with foreign energy companies and governments can bring the necessary technical know-how to effectively develop the renewable energy industry in the region. 


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