Azerbaijan praised for renewable energy strategy ahead of solar conference

Oil-producing nations must increase their investment in renewable energy merely “to survive”, a solar energy conference in the Azerbaijan capital Baku will be told next month.

Former German MP Hans-Josef Fell, president of the Energy Watch Group and the author of his nation’s landmark renewable energy policy, said ahead of the CISOLAR 2015 conference there is “no risk for investors in renewables” and he has praised Azerbaijan’s solar strategy.

“To switch the investment to renewables is the right and necessary way for the energy companies to survive with their business in the future,” he said.

Fell will deliver the keynote address to CISOLAR 2015, during which he will warn of the risks of a “carbon bubble”, created by the implementation of more stringent carbon policies worldwide. The Bank of England is taking this threat so seriously it last year pledged an inquiry into the issue and the possible global economic fallout.

“Fossil producing countries must know this trend and also switch their investment to renewables, otherwise they will be the losers of the coming economic developments,” he warned.

In the region, photovoltaic (PV) plants capable of generating 2.2 GW are to be up and running by 2020. This makes perfect sense given that the region receives 2,200 – 2,400 hours of sunshine per year, compared with renewable leader Germany (1200 – 1800 hours) and the UK (1200 – 1600 hours).

Kazakhstan already has a feed-in tariff of 0.145 euros per kilowatt hour (€/KWh) and is aiming to build 300 MW of PV plants by 2018. Kyrgyzstan will have 120 MW of PV installed by 2018 and a feed-in tariff of 0.11 €/KWh.

Azerbaijan’s plans are more ambitious. It plans to have 1 GW installed by 2020 and a feed-in tariff of about 0.20 €/KWh, which Fell praised as a “first positive step”.

Assessing his host’s renewables strategy he said: “Azerbaijan can secure cheap energy consumption, save fossil resources for export and create new jobs. One gigawatt PV as well as one gigawatt wind power per year, combined with bioenergy and storages, could be a good goal for a fast growth of renewables and an economic boost in Azerbaijan.”

And, in the wake of falling oil prices during 2014, Fell said the only risk in renewables investment is political “when the politicians cut retroactive feed in tariffs or bring in other financial burdens by law”.

Therefore, he said, former Soviet oil and gas economies need to support renewables with a good political framework that can survive the cycles of traditional energy markets.

CISOLAR 2015 is organised by the State Agency on Alternative and Renewable Energy Sources of Azerbaijan and the Innovative Business Centre (IBCentre). The event in Baku on April 16-17, will be held under the auspices of the Ministry of Industry and Energy of Azerbaijan.