On 26 October, the official inauguration of the 230 MW Garadagh Solar Power Plant took place.

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

The ceremony first featured a video screening highlighting the work done in the Garadagh Solar PV Plant.

On 6 April 2021, the Investment, Power Purchase and Transmission Connection agreements were signed between the Ministry of Energy of Azerbaijan, Azerenergy OJSC and Masdar Company of the United Arab Emirates. A groundbreaking ceremony for the plant was held in the Gulustan Palace on 15 March 2022 with the participation of President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev.

The Garadagh Solar PV Plant is the largest solar power plant in the Caspian region and the CIS. The plant was built at the expense of foreign investment worth 262 million USD. It is the first industrial-scale solar power plant realized by attracting foreign investment in our country.

The plant will produce 500 million kilowatt-hours of electricity annually, saving 110 million cubic meters of natural gas. At the same time, carbon emissions into the atmosphere will be reduced by 200 thousand tons. The power plant, which covers an area of 550 hectares, has 570 thousand solar panels installed. A 330-kilovolt substation was built to connect this station to the network.

The head of state addressed the event.

Speech of President Ilham Aliyev

Dear ministers. Dear guests. Ladies and gentlemen.

Last March, we were participating in the groundbreaking ceremony of the solar power plant.  The video that was just shown demonstrates the historical moment in our history. Because that was a start, I am sure, of a big journey for our two brotherly countries. Today, we are very proud to see that in a relatively short period, something more than a year and a half, this empty part of the Absheron Peninsula became a source of green energy. This is a remarkable achievement. I'd like to congratulate Masdar and its leadership for this outstanding contribution to the development of Azerbaijan and its commitment to our country with respect to the green transition.

Today, among our guests, we are proud to see four UAE government ministers and a big delegation from a brotherly country. This is a good example of our partnership and friendship, and it also demonstrates that both countries pay great importance to today`s ceremony.  First, because, as it was already shown, it's the largest in the region and second, because it is, as I already said, only the beginning.

We have big plans, and I'm sure that friendly and brotherly relations between the UAE and Azerbaijan will continue to develop successfully.  I'm sure that there'll be more projects. Later today, we will witness the signing ceremony of three investment agreements, which will produce one gigawatt of renewables in a very short time. So, we consider today's event a bright example of brotherly relations between the UAE and Azerbaijan.

I would like to express gratitude to our dear guests for being with us today. I would like to express special gratitude to Masdar. This company trusted Azerbaijan and decided to start large-scale investments in renewables and make it possible for Azerbaijan to achieve its goals with respect to the green agenda.  Today's project is the first among many to come.

As I said, three investment agreements will be signed today, but our plans are much broader. We plan to work together to produce up to 10 gigawatts of renewables in phases. That will be a total revolution in the region's energy development because Azerbaijan is a country where the first oil in the world was produced in the middle of the 19th century. The first oil from offshore fields was produced in the middle of the last century. And now, considering that we are still rich in fossil fuel resources, we are moving towards a green agenda. This is a deliberate choice. This is our contribution not only to the future development of Azerbaijan but to the issues related to climate change.

So, I am very hopeful and absolutely sure that all our plans will be implemented. Today's ceremony demonstrates that. Also, I hope that today's ceremony will be a good example and will send a good signal to many more companies from the UAE to come to work with us. I know that recently, our national oil companies, energy companies ADNOC and SOCAR, have already become official partners in Azerbaijan.  I know there are plans to work together in UAE and other countries. So, we see now that the development of cooperation between our countries, governmental structures and companies is really elevating to a new stage.

Azerbaijan is a very friendly country for foreign investments. We have enjoyed a multibillion-dollar investment portfolio during the last three decades. Total investments in Azerbaijan were more than 300 billion US dollars and almost 200 billion US dollars in the non-oil sector. Our economic target is to continue diversifying our economy to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. But at the same time, we understand that our oil and gas will be needed for the international market for many more years. For that purpose, multiple pipeline oil and gas pipeline systems have been commissioned, and now we export our oil and gas in different directions. Azerbaijan is the exporter of oil, natural gas, oil products, petrochemicals, and electricity to international markets.

Of course, in the coming years, we will export hydrogen, including green hydrogen. For that purpose, we are working very closely with our partners - companies from different countries of the world to create this potential.

With respect to the investment climate of Azerbaijan, I already mentioned that Azerbaijan`s economy is very stable. During the last 20 years, our GDP grew more than four times. We managed to reduce our direct foreign debt to a level below 10% of GDP and reduce the poverty level, which was close to 50% 20 years ago, down to 5.5%.

So, it demonstrates that the fair distribution of the revenues from oil and gas exports creates an absolutely new reality. In the coming years, we are planning to implement the state program, which reinforces our national energy grid in a short period of time. This is absolutely necessary. Because I mentioned only projects that we are planning to implement with Masdar. There are many other investment proposals, some of which are already in the face of implementation.

So, we will definitely need to reinforce our national energy grid, and as I said, the state program is being implemented. We will do everything on time. We have already allocated financial resources so that our investors, who produce renewable energy sources, feel comfortable.

At the same time, I would like to inform you that our renewable energy agenda is not limited only to solar or wind power stations.  We are actively developing our hydro energy potential in the territories liberated three years ago - Karabakh and East Zangezur. We have already commissioned hydropower stations with a capacity of 170 megawatts. By the end of next year, it will already be 270 megawatts. Within two to three years, it will be 500 megawatts of hydropower station, another important contribution to the green energy transition.

In general, Karabakh, East Zangezur and Nakhchivan have already been declared a green energy zone. There is a significant potential to use our natural resources, one of which is apparently the wind. Because wind has always been a source of some problems, especially when landing. But now wind is a natural resource

So, it was maybe difficult to imagine some 10-20 years ago. But now, it is the case, and the wind in the Caspian is much stronger. And even today, here at this venue, the wind demonstrates that this potential is here.

So, these are the plans for the future. Of course, these investments will allow us to save a lot of natural gas, which we use now to produce electricity. And it's several billion cubic meters of natural gas, which will be saved for export because the Azerbaijani gas is needed more than ever in Europe due to recent geopolitical changes.

We have commissioned major transportation infrastructure on time, 3,500 kilometers gas pipeline from Caspian offshore fields to Europe. And that will be another contribution to the energy security of the broader region.

Of course, among our plans is to work actively with our partners to create an energy corridor - Caspian-EU Energy Corridor. Last December, a corresponding agreement was signed. We have already started our activity. The steering committee has already gathered a couple of times. In several months, we will have a complete feasibility study of the new energy security project – Green Energy Corridor, integrated transmission production and consumption facilities, including the electric cable under the Black Sea. Currently, the feasibility study is being prepared for 4 gigawatts of renewables.

So, these are our plans, and our history of independence demonstrates that all our plans come true not only in the energy area but also in all fields. Because we have political will, we have unity in our society. We have great partners and friends like the UAE and companies from the UAE.

So, I'm sure that we will achieve all our goals and have many more ceremonies like that in the future. Once again, I would like to express gratitude to our guests for being with us and congratulate all of us on this remarkable event.

Thank you very much.

x x x

Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology of the United Arab Emirates Sultan Ahmad Al Jaber addressed the ceremony.

- Salameleykum. His Excellency Mr. President Aliyev. Distinguished guests, dear friends, ladies and gentlemen.

Indeed, it is a pleasure to return to Azerbaijan, to Baku and take part in a very important event. This event is an important event on the road to energy diversification and sustainable economic development of Azerbaijan.

Let me first convey the best wishes of H.E. Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates, to His Excellency President Aliyev and the people of Azerbaijan.

Mr. President, our visit to Azerbaijan at the beginning of this year and our participation in the implementation of the project at this very important ceremony are really an example of our respect, honour and loyalty to our commitment.

I have not seen any project of Masdar in which four ministers and members of the highest level delegation of the United Arab Emirates take part at the same time. This is really an example of great respect, honour and cooperation with your country.

Mr. President, I remember very well your noble and kind words. I remember very well your speech at Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week at the beginning of this year. You said that Azerbaijan's decision to develop renewable energy sources many years ago was not only related to energy security. It was a bold and thoughtful decision, I would even say, a strategic step. This was a strategic step towards developing new industries, creating new jobs, and green economic growth.

Your Excellency, this approach is similar to the reflection of the United Arab Emirates in the mirror. In fact, this is an approach adopted by the United Arab Emirates over the past twenty years. Today, the United Arab Emirates is proud to demonstrate this in the form of such a progressive energy company as Masdar. As you know, Masdar has become the world's leading renewable energy company.

This project is an important stage in the development and strengthening of close relations between our countries. This is a project that will provide electricity to more than 110 thousand homes and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 200 thousand tons per year.

Your Excellency, as you mentioned earlier, today we will also sign an agreement on the production of two solar and one wind energy, which means an additional 1000 megawatts of clean energy per day. These are very important steps. These are concrete steps to implement the 10 GW renewable energy projects agreed in Azerbaijan - our plan for the development of wind and solar energy. This is work that is carried out quite quickly.

Your Excellency, there are only 34 days left before the UN COP-28 conference on Climate Change, and today's event perfectly embodies the practical measures necessary to realize the goals of the Paris Agreement. This year is a decisive moment. I would say that COP-28 is a critical moment in the direction of climate action, as it is a global summary year that reviews the progress made after the Paris Agreement.

It should be noted that the Paris conference united the world around a common goal. This was a successful step towards uniting nations and countries in the pursuit of a common goal. But if we consider the analysis that has been carried out on a global scale since then, we will see that we are still not confidently moving on the path to the full goal. Investments in renewable energy continue to grow. This year, an additional record 500 GW was produced in the world. But, you know, by 2030 the world should triple its renewable energy capacity so that the level of 1.5 is accessible.

For the first time, we are expressing practical steps in society at the level of COP-28, that is, emissions should be reduced by 22 gigatons in seven years. I am sure that this is a very big task. This is a task for all nations, for all countries. No country, people and institutions will be able to cope with this task on their own. We need every country to prepare clear plans for the transition to energy with the goals set in the field of clean energy, like Azerbaijan. We need innovative approaches in climate financing to ensure the development and implementation of a number of coherent projects in record time. This is exactly what approaches are in the projects in Azerbaijan and in the partnership in this project.

Dear participants, dear friends.

I would like to thank all the partners who contributed to the development and implementation of this project - the Abu Dhabi Development Fund, the Asian Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the Japan International Cooperation Agency. In fact, this is a unique model and an approach developed by Masdar over the past years. This is an example of how multilateral and bilateral institutions come together, especially the parties concerned from different parts of the world. It is an excellent manifestation, an example of how innovative mixed financial resources from all over the world come together to achieve real results, especially in the southern hemisphere of our planet. This is a catalyst model in project financing, which Masdar has been developing for almost two decades to successfully implement renewable energy projects in more than 40 countries. The support we received from the management is also remarkable in that through this support we have implemented so many projects in more than 40 countries in a short period of time.

The Azerbaijani government's vision of harnessing Azerbaijan's wind and solar potential, as well as providing the system's base capacity with natural gas, will make energy safer, more accessible and more sustainable. Both Masdar and the United Arab Emirates dream of becoming your partners in this journey. We are determined to implement such projects in many other countries as well. We expect to continue working with you and other like-minded partners, organizations and countries on all continents to produce at least 100 GW of clean energy by 2030 to achieve ambitious goals with Azerbaijan and many countries around the world.

This also means working together with like-minded partners to decarbonize the energy resources used in the world, which, in fact, will be an important tool in terms of future well-being.

Your Excellency, over the past years I have met and talked with people in different parts of the world. Over the past year, I can say that I have talked with many people from all over the world, from every segment of society, government representatives, the private sector, business circles, scientific circles, non-governmental organizations, civil society and quite famous persons. During these conversations, in all these contacts, we understand very deeply what steps should be taken in connection with global climate change. Therefore, we really hope that the 28th UN Climate Change Conference will provide us with the opportunity to respond to very serious challenges related to climate change.

At present, there are a number of technological tools to deal with daily problems. But many of these technologies are at the initial stage of creation. On the other hand, there is also the issue of global finance. It is important to raise global financial resources to a level that can be seen and accessible. Learning from our contacts, we have accepted a reality that if we do not resolve the financial issue related to climate change, the world will still remain in uncertainty. Therefore, we want to create a new climate change framework, within which it is possible to bring together multilateral development banks and international financial institutions, so that this funding is accessible and usable.

You know, at the same time, what distinguishes the 28th UN Climate Change Conference is our fundamental approach. This is cooperation, partnership and full-scale inclusion, thanks to which we can collectively cope with the challenges of climate change. Without this, our attempts will fail. If we look at the seven-year period that has passed since the Paris Agreement, then, yes, there is some progress, but at the same time, we are still far from the goals set.

The Paris Agreement was important for the world to come together within the one agreement. But at the 28th UN Climate Change Conference, we want to turn what was mentioned in the Paris Agreement into practical, pragmatic outcome-oriented activities. We want to have fewer words and more practical work. We want real answers, solutions, results for the real world. That is why it is an open invitation to everyone, who can contribute to it. Let them come to Dubai and come with this awareness. Let it be hope, optimism, partnership, unity and solidarity. If we really want to create a paradigm shift in this direction, it will be a recipe for success.

Your Excellency, I still rely on you, cooperation with you, your leadership, optimism, creativity and enthusiasm to carry out the work. I look forward to seeing your delegation at the Ministerial Meeting ahead of the COP-28 conference in the United Arab Emirates next week, as well as at the 28th UN Climate Change Conference. We want the spirit that is exhibited here, the spirit of leadership, the spirit that is in this project, the spirit of positivity, partnership, cooperation, solidarity, as well as that of the COP-28 conference, to be exhibited and to be more than enough to polarize and disintegrate. It is time to unite the world on a roadmap to overcome the challenges of climate change that we are facing.

Your Excellency, no matter how much I thank you, it is little that you have shown us so much confidence and gave us the opportunity. As I mentioned before, this is a pretty wise view, a wise leadership. This is also the leading view of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan that such projects were developed in such a short time. Thanks to your support, assistance and support from your government, we have achieved great achievements in such a short time. I promise you that this will be the DNA of our partnership.

I thank everyone and especially you in the contacts of the United Arab Emirates with Azerbaijan.

x x x

Then, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology of the United Arab Emirates Sultan Ahmad Al Jaber launched the Garadagh Solar PV Plant.

Made by Masdar company, the commemorative medal dedicated to the 100th anniversary of National Leader Heydar Aliyev was presented to President Ilham Aliyev.

They posed together for a group photo.

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