Masdar committed to Azerbaijan's COP29 success - Maryam Al Mazrouei (Exclusive interview) (PHOTO)

Economy Materials 24 June 2024 08:00 (UTC +04:00)
Masdar committed to Azerbaijan's COP29 success - Maryam Al Mazrouei (Exclusive interview) (PHOTO)
Maryana Ahmadova
Maryana Ahmadova
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BAKU, Azerbaijan, June 24. Masdar is committed to participating alongside the UAE delegation at COP29 and looks forward to supporting Azerbaijan's government for a successful COP this year, Maryam Al Mazrouei, Head of Development and Investment (CIS) at Masdar, told Trend in an exclusive interview.

"Every initiative undertaken by Masdar in Azerbaijan contributes to the national target of tripling renewable energy capacity by 2030, which aligns with the country's goal of achieving 30 percent capacity of renewable energy by the same year. As part of the UAE delegation, we will be certainly participating eagerly," she said.

Speaking of the possibility of inking more deals between Azerbaijan and Masdar as part of the COP event, Al Mazrouei noted that she will be "personally enthusiastic about pushing forward and signing additional agreements" between the sides.

"Azerbaijan is a key strategic market for Masdar. We began discussions with the Ministry of Energy in 2018-2019, and as we speak, we already have one operational project. The 230 MW Garadagh solar PV project was inaugurated and has been a great success. With the strategic collaboration between Masdar, the Ministry of Energy of Azerbaijan, and Azerenergy, we aim to expand and build on this success," the company rep added.

According to Al Mazrouei, Masdar is currently looking to implement a battery storage project in Azerbaijan.

"In the field of energy storage here in Azerbaijan, we are currently in discussions with the Ministry of Energy. We are very eager to implement the country's first battery storage project, which will undoubtedly aid in grid stabilization efforts. However, it is still in its nascent stages," she said.

Al Mazrouei pointed out that Masdar is one of the leading developers of green energy and remains technology-agnostic. "Our focus lies on several core developments, including solar PV, hydropower, onshore and offshore wind. Additionally, we consider secondary technologies such as waste-to-energy and geothermal solutions".

"Therefore, battery storage aligns well with Masdar's overall technological landscape. We maintain an open stance towards regions and technologies, without any constraints. Wherever we perceive a feasible project that also aligns with the country's objectives, we are eager to initiate and propel it forward," she elaborated.

Further speaking, the company representative highlighted Masdar's interest in the feasibility studies to expedite offshore wind potential in the Caspian. "The development of offshore wind in the Caspian Sea is part of the first phase of an agreement on renewable energy development in Azerbaijan, and the technical feasibility studies are ongoing. Once we have clarity, we will agree with the government on the next steps for the implementation of offshore wind and green hydrogen".

Al Mazrouei noted that there is significant interest from various developers and investors in tapping into the vast potential for offshore wind in the Azerbaijani sector of the Caspian, estimated at 157 GW.

"However, offshore wind is more complex, compared to solar and onshore wind. Logistics, supply chain, and technical assessments are more demanding, and it is also more expensive. Thus, the development lifecycle for offshore wind is considerably longer, meaning it will take some time to implement such a project," she explained.

Maryam Al Mazrouei further reminded that, in 2022, Masdar signed two implementation agreements with Azerbaijan in the city of Shusha, covering a program of 10 GW. "This starts with the first phase of 4 GW and potentially expands to a second phase of 6 GW".

"The first phase includes 1 GW of onshore wind, 1 GW of solar, and 2 GW of offshore wind and green hydrogen potential. This phase already covers two solar PV projects and one onshore wind project: the 445 MW Bilasuvar Solar PV Project, the 315 MW Neftchala Solar PV Project, and the 240 MW Absheron-Garadagh Onshore Wind Project. In this phase, we signed the main project agreements, including the PPA, CCA, land use agreement, and investment agreement. We plan to expedite the development and complete the construction of these projects to meet the expectations of the country's leadership. We are advancing the development of the next gigawatt of the onshore project and studying the technical feasibility of green hydrogen and offshore potential. It's ongoing. I would say it will be completed very soon. Regarding the implementation of particular projects, it will depend on the outcome of the study. So once we have a clear outcome, then we will have a clear plan for the implementation," she added.

Maryam Al Mazrouei went on to add that Masdar has a very broad portfolio in Central Asia as well. "Particularly in Uzbekistan, where we have Masdar's largest portfolio in the region. Azerbaijan comes second, with projects amounting to 1.2 GW, including a 230 MW project. We are also active in Kazakhstan, where we have signed agreements for 1 GW and have started with 500 MW onshore. Additionally, we are developing a 100 MW solar project in Georgia".

Namely, Masdar is currently in talks with Uzbekistan regarding a pumped storage hydro project, while technical assessment is underway. "Regarding pumped storage hydro, it helps stabilize the grid more effectively than battery storage, which has lower capacity and coverage time. Pumped storage allows for building larger capacities and offers better control over grid stability. We are in direct discussions with Uzbek Hydro Energy and are currently conducting a technical assessment. Once we have clarity, we will proceed with the implementation of the project".

According to Al Mazrouei, Masdar's current portfolio in Uzbekistan includes 2 GW of operational and under-construction projects. "Additionally, we have a committed pipeline of 2 GW of onshore wind under development and a 1.5 gigawatt-hour battery storage system. Aside from the 2 GW nearing completion and operational status, we are also expanding our footprint and developing more projects in Uzbekistan".

Furthermore, discussions between the Ministry of Energy of Kyrgyzstan and Masdar on further renewables exploration are ongoing as well.

"In Kyrgyzstan, we are very active in hydropower and are also working on solar projects. We have a program with them for 1 GW, starting with the first phase of a solar PV project. Discussions with the Kyrgyz Ministry of Energy are ongoing," she said.

Maryam Al Mazrouei reminded that last year, Masdar signed an agreement with the Kyrgyz government alongside EDF for the development of hydropower in Kyrgyzstan. "Discussions with the government are ongoing. As you might know, developing hydropower takes longer than solar and wind projects. However, we are conducting the necessary studies, and hopefully, it will come to fruition. The timeline will depend on the progress of our discussions with the Kyrgyz government".