President Ilham Aliyev attends groundbreaking ceremony for largest thermal power plant in Azerbaijan's independence period (PHOTO/VIDEO)

Politics Materials 13 February 2023 11:10 (UTC +04:00)
President Ilham Aliyev attends groundbreaking ceremony for largest thermal power plant in Azerbaijan's independence period (PHOTO/VIDEO)

BAKU, Azerbaijan, February 13. A groundbreaking ceremony has been held at the Gulustan Palace in Baku for a 1,280-MW thermal power plant, the largest in Azerbaijan`s independence period.

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

The head of state addressed the event.

Speech by President Ilham Aliyev

- Dear ladies and gentlemen,

Dear guests.

Today we are gathered for the groundbreaking ceremony of a new 1,280 megawatt power plant in the city of Mingachevir. I am sure that we will celebrate the opening of this plant in the near future – in 2025.

This is a very significant event. It will greatly strengthen the energy potential of our country and, at the same time, further increase the importance of Mingachevir as the electricity generation center of Azerbaijan. Mingachevir is currently our main city in the field of electric energy. The power plant operating in Mingachevir meets most of the electricity needs of our country today.

Heydar Aliyev was the Great Leader who turned Mingachevir into an energy center not only of Azerbaijan but also of the entire Caucasus. Under his leadership and on his initiative, in the 1970s, more precisely in 1976, the foundation of a large power plant was laid in Mingachevir. The first block of the big station was inaugurated in 1981 with the personal participation of Heydar Aliyev.

The station with a total generation capacity of 2,400 megawatts provided not only the energy potential of our country, but also a major part of the country’s industrial potential, allowing Azerbaijan the opportunity to be supplied with electricity even in the most difficult years of our independence, in the early years. However, people who lived in Baku at the time and those who lived in different parts of Azerbaijan well remember that there were blackouts at the time, there was a shortage and we could not provide for ourselves. Nevertheless, the main burden fell upon the Mingachevir Power Station.

Of course, over the years, infrastructure becomes obsolete. The reconstruction of the Mingachevir Power Station was one of the priority issues, and the process of complete overhaul of the station began on my instruction in 2018. In a short period of time, in a matter of two years, eight blocks were completely reconstructed and put into use. Thus, in 2020, the station, as they say, started working again with its original generating capacity of 2,400 megawatts.

I should also note that as a result of the restoration and reconstruction work, more than 600 megawatts of lost power was restored, which in itself is tantamount to the construction of a new large station.

The importance of the Mingachevir Power Station was further evidenced during the second Karabakh war. Because at that time, Armenia, which was defeated on the battlefield, also fired at civilian sites in Azerbaijan, hundreds of residential houses were completely destroyed, about a hundred civilians were killed. The Mingachevir Power Station, which was fired at with long-range missiles was among them. Many of these missiles were destroyed by Azerbaijan's air defense systems, and some missed the target. So Armenia, which was defeated on the battlefield, wanted to destroy the main center of Azerbaijan's electricity generation. But they did not succeed.

Now begins a new era of the city of Mingachevir as the electricity center of Azerbaijan - in fact, not only Azerbaijan, but also of the entire Caucasus. The station with a capacity of about 1,300 megawatts will certainly strengthen our potential to a great extent. This will be another contribution to Azerbaijan's energy security, hundreds of new jobs will be created, and thus Azerbaijan will make full use of its capabilities to meet both domestic demand and, at the same time, take greater steps in the field of electric power and natural gas. Because the consumption of conventional fuel in the newly built station is quite low, and this will enable us to save approximately 800 million cubic meters or 1 billion cubic meters of gas per year. As there is a great demand for Azerbaijani gas in Europe today, this will also be another contribution to Europe's energy security.

I should also note that this new station, meeting modern standards, will consume significantly less carbon dioxide - by 2 million tons, and thus it will be of great benefit to the environment.

The station will be built using the domestic resources of Azerbaijan. I should also say that according to the information I have been given, the total cost of the plant will be about 400 million dollars, and people familiar with the field of electricity generation know how much a plant with a capacity of about 1,300 megawatts can cost. That is, the funds to be invested in this station are three to four times lower than is normally spent on the construction of stations of this size. The reason for this is, of course, efficiency. At the same time, the reason for this is that a strong electricity infrastructure has already been created in Mingachevir, and the construction of this station in Mingachevir is primarily aimed at that.

This is why we have great energy potential with little investment. At the same time, 60 percent of the funds to be paid will be provided by Azerenergy itself. The remaining 40 percent will be provided through loans. Again, taking into account that the efficiency here will be very high, there will be great savings on natural gas, and, within a few years, I am sure that as a result of the operation of this station, both the invested funds will return and, at the same time, the loan will be repaid.

So, it is an all-round successful project. Renewable energy is currently given greater priority in the world and in Europe, including Azerbaijan, and we have already achieved great success in this field. Nevertheless, the benefits of traditional resources and traditional stations are also obvious.

I should note that we will build this station together with foreign partners. Today's ceremony is being attended by the Minister of Enterprises and Made in Italy. I sincerely welcome the distinguished guest. At the same time, a Chinese company will participate in the construction of this station. So, we will do this work within the framework of foreign cooperation. Of course, the relations between Azerenergy and the Italian company Ansaldo play a key role here. I should bring to your attention that the contracts between Azerenergy and Ansaldo were signed immediately after the second Karabakh war. At a time when large-scale construction and restoration work is going on in the liberated Karabakh and Eastern Zangezur, the energy potential of that region is being explored in the first place, and Ansaldo and Azerenergy are working in this direction as part of this partnership.

The participation of the Italian company in the construction of this station is not accidental. Italy is our strategic partner. Two documents on strategic partnership have been signed between Italy and Azerbaijan, high-level reciprocal visits have been organized. Starting from January of this year, three ministers of the new Italian government have already visited Azerbaijan - the minister of defense, the minister of energy, and today the minister of enterprises and Made in Italy. In just one month, i.e. the first visit was on January 11, three ministers of the new government have visited Azerbaijan. This shows how advanced our relations really are.

Of course, cooperation in the field of energy as a whole is traditional. Most of Azerbaijani oil is delivered to the Italian market, and Azerbaijani gas has been delivered to the Italian market for more than two years. The TAP project is our joint success. Whereas the starting point of the Southern Gas Corridor is Azerbaijan's sector in the Caspian Sea, its end point is Italy, and several countries along the way benefit from Azerbaijan's gas. Taking into account the new needs of Europe and according to the document signed between the European Commission and Azerbaijan last year, we will ensure an increase in the volume of natural gas supplies to Europe. Of course, the issue of doubling the capacity of the TAP is on the agenda now. This issue has been discussed for some time now, including the discussions at the Southern Gas Corridor Advisory Council held in Baku at the beginning of this month.

I am sure that we will reach our goals in all these directions, and just like in the oil and gas projects, Azerbaijan's electricity will also be delivered to Europe. For this purpose, a relevant agreement was signed in December last year, and Azerbaijan's potential, including green energy potential, will open new opportunities for Europe.

So, Italy-Azerbaijan relations not only provide the interests of our two countries, but also provide the interests of a large geography. I should also say that our cooperation is not limited to the energy sector. Italy is the main trading partner for Azerbaijan. Currently, a new building of the Azerbaijan-Italy University is being built in Baku. Italian companies are very actively involved in restoration and reconstruction work on the liberated lands - restoration and construction of religious sites, construction and design of victory museums. So, this is indeed a very strategic partnership, and of course today's ceremony shows that again.

I must say that the field of power engineering in Azerbaijan as a whole has developed very rapidly and successfully in recent years. Over the past 20 years, 34 power plants have been built in Azerbaijan, and the generation capacity of these plants is approximately 3,400 megawatts. Just for comparison, I can say that currently our total generation capacity is 7,200 megawatts, of which 3,400 megawatts have been created in the last 20 years. Now imagine if we had not done this, if we had not made this issue a priority, our economic and industrial development could be in question now. Today we would not be able to provide for our own energy security. That is, all work was done on time and with proper sequence. Today's ceremony and the new plant, which will start operating in 2025, will further strengthen our energy potential. Because it is needed both in Azerbaijan and Europe. We have started the restoration and reconstruction work on the liberated lands, primarily in the field of power engineering, and more than 10 substations and over 10 hydroelectric power stations have already been built. We have already created more than 50 megawatts of generation capacity in Eastern Zangezur region in two years and this figure will reach 200 megawatts by the end of this year. In other words, we will create 200 megawatts of energy on liberated lands in just three years. All stations are connected to a common network. The large hydropower potential of Eastern Zangezur and Karabakh will enable us to create up to 500 megawatts of generation power in those regions. That is, this area remains a priority.

But at the same time, as you know, there is a huge potential in Azerbaijan for the development of renewable energy. Currently, two stations are under construction - 470 megawatt solar and wind stations. The construction of the third station will start soon, and it will give us about 240 megawatts of additional power. Currently, on the basis of the documents signed with foreign investors, up to 25 gigawatts of solar and wind power plants are to be built, most of them in the Caspian Sea, and a few onshore. So, this is really a huge potential, and the wind energy potential of the Caspian Sea alone is equal to 157 gigawatts.

Today we are laying the foundation of a really large and important project. I am sure that the station will be built on time and will strengthen the energy potential of our country, enhance our export opportunities, and open the way for new, future projects with foreign partners.

Thank you.

Other speakers at the event included Minister of Enterprises and Made in Italy of the Italian Republic Adolfo Urso, CEO of Ansaldo Energia Giuseppe Marino and CEO of the Chinese Dongfang company Chen Huaijie.

A video about the thermal power plant, which will be built, was shown at the ceremony.

President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and Minister of Enterprises and Made in Italy of the Italian Republic Adolfo Urso laid the foundation stone for the plant.

They posed together for photographs.