Jamil Melikov: "Azerbaijan is ready for export of alternative energy"

The 4th international forum Caspian Energy 2017 kicked off in Baku today. Deputy director of the State Agency for Alternative and Renewable Sources of Energy, Jamil Melikov, discussed Azerbaijan's prospects in the field of export of alternative energy to the world market in an interview with Vestnik Kavkaza.

- Can Azerbaijan's alternative energy technologies compete in the global market?

- There are export prospects. They're small, because it's very difficult to compete with Chinese producers of equipment in the field of renewable energy. But today we try to be more active in the market of export of services, rather than export of goods.In other words, we prefer to be suppliers of engineering solutions. We can build a power station, exploit it ourselves, we can return investments through the sale of electricity in a particular country. We can export our goods, services, intellectual property. In this sense, today we participate in various tenders. There are some pilot projects, there are some presentation projects in Dubai and in Georgia.

- In conditions of low hydrocarbon prices, is it economically feasible to develop alternative energy?

- Of course it is. Alternative energy uses free resources, after all, natural resources are free. No matter how low energy prices are, traditional energy uses energy resources that must be paid for. 70% of the cost of, say, electricity and any other type of energy - heat energy, hot water - is included in the cost of energy resources. So theoretically, I think renewable energy will be above any competition in the near future. 

We can already compete with traditional energy in many small projects. Previously, we had to build power lines, install transformers or substations in order to supply energy to certain places, but now we can just build a simple solar station or a hydroelectric plant. In such cases, we're above competition, because the cost of infrastructure is a fairly serious part of all construction costs and investments in a particular area.

However, it's difficult for us to compete in areas where traditional energy has a hundred-year base, where power lines and substations are already build. When there's nothing like that, it's hard for them to compete with us. For example, dig a well somewhere in the middle of the field, put pumping stations, today it's much cheaper and easier to do it using renewable energy, solar energy. Creating any other infrastracture would be much harder.

- What regions of Azerbaijan are the best for development of alternative energy?

- Alternative energy should be developed in places that have corresponding resources. In other words, it's localized. By being tied to specific geographical and climatic factors of a particular region, renewable energy becomes tied to a particular region. Each region has its own priority.

- Are alternative energy projects paying off?

- Any investment is profitable either from a commercial point of view or from a social. There are cases when it's necessary to make social investments, and then it doesn't pay off or it takes to much time to pay off. There are cases when we implement commercial projects that pay off in a short time. It's associated with export of services in the field of heat and power engineering. In other words, today renewable energy is much more effective than traditional energy, even gas boilers and so on.

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