The permanent rise in world prices for traditional energy sources dictates the need to use them rationally.
However, it is not just a matter of prices and economy, but also the understanding that in just a few decades natural energy resources will be exhausted.
The last decade was marked by a boom in renewable energy, which showed very high growth rates and investment activity. Nowadays, developed countries tend to develop and implement state programs for the use of renewable energy sources.
The world economy is slowly beginning to turn toward an ecological agenda and become an eco-economy. Environmental awareness is becoming an urgent issue for many corporations. The green economy may become the leading industry of the next decade, attracting investments, startups, and major technological breakthroughs.
Experts say that humanity consumes 50 percent more natural resources than the planet can replenish.
Nowadays, all experts agree that renewable energy sources will play a very important and possibly key role in the future energy mix.
According to the Bloomberg New Energy Finance forecast, the share of renewable energy sources in the total global generation will increase to 50 percent already in 2050. The key factor for the increase in alternative generation capacity is the rapid decrease in the cost of energy production from non-traditional sources, as well as the continuous development of batteries that allow storing excess "green" electricity.
Moreover, according to the forecast, over the next 30 years, the scale of growth in demand for electricity will be 62 percent.
Experts believe that one of the most compelling reasons to invest in renewable energy sources, besides the sector's technology and production costs, is people's desire to reduce atmospheric emissions and curb temperature rise in accordance with the Paris Agreement.
The most common alternative energy sources are hydropower, wind power and solar power plants.
Hydropower is the most common way to produce energy from an inexhaustible source. For its operation, it is necessary to build a dam, to place turbines, which will spin the water. A clear advantage is the stability of energy production and the ability to control it by changing the rate of water flow.
Wind power - to produce energy in this way it is necessary to install special turbines, which will rotate the wind, through which the electricity will be generated. Wind turbines are easy and cheap to maintain, they do not take up much space, and rotate at a height of 100 m.
The last one is solar power plants, which are among the most common on the planet, as they use an inexhaustible source of energy (sunlight). In the process of generating electricity and, if necessary, also heat for domestic heating and hot water supply, they do not cause any harm to the environment.
According to the International Renewable Energy Agency, renewable energy sources, mainly wind and solar power, accounted for 82 percent of the world’s new electric generating capacity in 2020. The agency reported that global renewable energy generating capacity at the end of 2020 was 2,799 GW, an increase by 10.3 percent over 2019. Hydropower accounted for 43 percent of renewable energy capacity, while wind and solar each accounted for 26 percent.
Natural gas is seen by market participants as a "transitional" fuel on the long road from traditional energy to renewable energy sources. The world needs gas as a reserve to compensate for the lack of power generation when the sun is scarce.
A large number of sunny and windy days in some places in Azerbaijan creates ample opportunities for the development of alternative and renewable energy sources in the country.
The country's renewable energy potential is estimated at 26,940 MW, including 3,000 MW of wind power, 23,040 MW of solar power, 380 MW of bioenergy potential, and 520 MW of mountain river potential.
Currently, most of the electricity produced in Azerbaijan comes from traditional energy sources, which are mostly gas power plants. For instance, around 93 percent of electric power produced in the country last year comes from gas, and the remaining comes from renewable energy sources.
Transitioning to renewable energy will result in gas savings, which will create conditions for the expansion of Azerbaijan's export opportunities. That is, the gas saved due to renewable energy sources can be used both in the domestic market and sent for export.
The transformation of Azerbaijan into a “green growth” country through the extensive use of renewable energy over the next 10 years has been defined by President Ilham Aliyev as one of the national priorities that will ensure the country's socio-economic development.
Azerbaijan aims to increase the share of renewable energy sources in electricity production to 30 percent by 2030, by using the country’s solar and wind energy potential and increasing investments in this sphere. By 2030, it is planned to put into use about 1,500 MW of new installed capacity.
In this regard, Azerbaijan signed an agreement with Saudi Arabia’s ACWA Power on the construction of a 240 MW wind power plant. As a result of this project, 200 million cubic meters of gas will be saved per year, and the volume of emissions will be reduced by approximately 400,000 tons per year.
At the same time, Azerbaijan signed an agreement with the United Arab Emirates’ Masdar company on the building of a 230-MW solar power plant. The solar power plant to be built in Baku and Absheron district will produce about 500 million kWh of electricity annually, save 110 million cubic meters of natural gas, reduce carbon emissions by 200,000 tons, create new jobs and attract other investors to new projects.
Moreover, Azerbaijan is taking measures to develop renewable energy resources on its territories liberated from the Armenian occupation in 2020 and to turn the Karabakh region into the “green energy zone”. In this regard, the country’s Energy Ministry and BP have signed an Implementation agreement to build a 240MW solar power plant in liberated Zangilan and Jabrayil regions.
We live on a very crowded planet, where everything is interconnected. Individuals are only now beginning to realize their responsibility for their future. The environmental agenda grows louder every year, and the voices of a small number of activists are being joined by governments, corporations, and schoolchildren from different countries.
"Green" technology and environmental awareness are becoming part of our daily lives.
Ayya Lmahamad is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @AyyaLmahamad