On 13 January, a groundbreaking ceremony of the 240 MW Khizi-Absheron Wind Power Plant to be built in Azerbaijan by ACWA Power of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was held. President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev attended the ceremony.

President Ilham Aliyev made a speech at the event:

Dear ladies and gentlemen, dear friends.

It is a very significant day in the life of our country today. Today, the foundation of a new wind power plant to be built in Azerbaijan is being laid at the Gulustan Palace. I heartily congratulate you and all the people of Azerbaijan on this occasion.

This is a remarkable event.  This station will contribute to Azerbaijan’s energy security. The establishment of this station once again shows that the Azerbaijani state attaches great importance to the production of renewable energy. About a year ago, the Ministry of Energy of Azerbaijan and Saudi company ACWA Power signed an executive agreement. In fact, the decision was made to build the station, we have been working hard for the past year, and today we are celebrating this wonderful day together. This plant will be the largest power plant in the renewable energy sector in Azerbaijan. Its capacity is 240 megawatts, and, of course, as I said, it will contribute to the energy security of our country and create many jobs. The issues in our plans to save natural gas will also be resolved. Of course, this station will be of great importance in reducing the adverse impacts on the environment. I am glad that the company implementing and investing in this large renewable energy project is from brotherly Saudi Arabia. As you know, Saudi Arabia and Azerbaijan have very close friendly and fraternal relations. We have been working hard to develop these relations since independence. I remember with great pleasure my visits to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. My meetings with His Majesty the King and His Majesty the Crown Prince are once again a manifestation of the friendship and brotherhood between us. We are successfully cooperating in many areas. Of course, all the people of Azerbaijan are aware of the political support provided by Saudi Arabia to Azerbaijan during the occupation. Saudi Arabia is one of a handful of countries that did not establish diplomatic relations with Armenia at all due to the Armenian occupation, and this is a great moral support for the Azerbaijani people and the Azerbaijani state, it is a sign of brotherhood. The Azerbaijani people appreciate this. Our political relations are at a very high level. At the same time, we are actively cooperating in various sectors of the economy. Prior to the pandemic, the number of tourists from Saudi Arabia increased by the year. I do hope that after the pandemic ends, we will see citizens of Saudi Arabia, our brothers in Azerbaijan again. There are great prospects in the economic sphere. Of course, we are working together in the field of energy in the OPEC+ format. I can say that since the establishment of the OPEC+ format, it has played a special role in the cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Azerbaijan. Along with other countries participating in this format, we have managed to stabilize oil prices. The investor of this station is AquaPao, a well-known company with extensive experience in this field. We can talk a lot about the company, but I simply want to say that it is the largest energy company in the world. According to the information provided to me, the power generation capacity of the stations built by the company is more than 42,000 megawatts. So it would not be too difficult to imagine its proportions, and I am glad that this company is also interested in Azerbaijan.

Of course, the role of our bilateral interstate relations is very important here, but at the same time, the reforms carried out in Azerbaijan in recent years, including the energy sector, the good investment climate, the successful development of our country, the stability, peace and security – all these factors have played an important role for every investor. Also, foreign investment is protected in Azerbaijan at the highest level. Foreign investors are well aware that our word is as valuable as our signature. The Contract of the Century signed in this magnificent Gulustan Palace in 1994 has been implemented for many years, and not a single word, not even a comma, has been changed in that contract. Our attitude to all other contracts and agreements with major foreign companies is similar. Therefore, $10 billion has been invested in Azerbaijan. This investment continues. In particular, the global financial crisis, as well as the natural decline in economic activity due to the pandemic – all these are negative factors. Nevertheless, the brotherly country's company has decided to invest extensively in Azerbaijan, and today we are laying the foundation for a 240-megawatt wind plant to be built in Khizi district. I must also say that Azerbaijan has been working hard to ensure its energy security for many years since gaining independence. Azerbaijan is one of a handful of countries in the world that fully produces both crude oil and natural gas, oil products and electricity to meet domestic demand, and at the same time exports these four products to world markets. Thus, the energy security of our country is fully ensured and the growing exports of natural gas and electricity have a positive impact on the energy security of other countries. But we should also remember that the country is developing fast. According to the results of last year, our non-oil sector and non-oil industry has grown by about 20 percent. The country's population is growing, and so is demand. Therefore, of course, we must seriously engage in the production of new types of energy. Renewable energy production is one of the main tasks on our agenda in the field of energy. I must also say that negotiations are underway on the construction of a large solar power plant in the liberated territories, in Jabrayil district. The power generation potential of this station will be equal to 240 megawatts. I can say that as a result of an accurate analysis, it has transpired that a total of about 10,000 megawatts of renewable wind and solar electricity can be produced in the liberated areas. Of course, we would like investors and companies from friendly countries to explore these opportunities and start these big projects together with us.

I should also note that Azerbaijan fully meets domestic demand, and at the same time exports electricity to all neighboring countries. High-voltage power lines connecting us with neighboring countries allow us the opportunity to build new lines if necessary. Because the demand for electricity is growing in countries of the region and, at the same time, in Europe. Some countries have decided to close nuclear power plants, and we are also observing the closure of coal-fired power plants. At the same time, the Green Agenda, which is almost at the forefront of the global agenda, has been approved, and we, in turn, declared the liberated territories, an area of 10,000 square kilometers, a “green energy” zone. Several hydropower plants have already been built and are operating. We have specific plans to build solar and wind power plants.

In short, the creation of this wind farm is a very important and significant project in many ways. This is a wonderful indicator. It is also a signal for other potential investors to take further steps without wasting time. I must also say that the world's major companies are interested in Azerbaijan's renewable energy potential. At present, the Ministry of Energy of Azerbaijan is in talks with several leading companies of the world, and I repeat, there is a combination of different factors involved. There is a positive opinion about the stability, peace and development of our country in the world, i.e. there are ideas that reflect the truth, the predictability of our policy and at the same time, strong industrial potential, economic independence, energy security and trained personnel. In other words, these are the main factors. These factors are of great importance for any investor.

I am confident that after the opening of this largest renewable energy plant, which is currently being built in our country, and perhaps even before it opens, we will begin to implement other investment projects. As for the opening of this station, I do hope that we will celebrate the opening of this great energy project soon together.

I once again heartily congratulate you and all the people of Azerbaijan on this wonderful occasion. As I said, I want to celebrate the opening of this station together in the near future. Thank you.

Minister of Energy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman al-Saud then addressed the event:

He conveyed the greetings of King of Saudi Arabia, His Majesty King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud to President Ilham Aliyev. They wish continuous success to the Azerbaijani Republic and once again repeat that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is interested in further strengthening of the relations with Azerbaijan. I am very pleased to be with you here today at the groundbreaking ceremony. Your Excellency Mr. President, let me express my sincere gratitude to you for such a warm welcome in the beautiful city of Baku.

Minister of Energy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman al-Saud also stressed the importance of Azerbaijan's success in OPEC+ format thanks to the leadership of President Ilham Aliyev. He underscored that strong alliance, partnership, and friendly relations have been established between the two countries in the world oil industry and in the OPEC+ format over the past few years. The Minister said that he and his Azerbaijani counterpart were actively working in this area:

-Azerbaijan and Saudi Arabia have had long and strong diplomatic and economic relations. The kingdom was one of the first countries that recognized Azerbaijan’s independence in 1991. These relations were further strengthened by the visit of the founder of the modern Azerbaijani state, late President Heydar Aliyev to Riyadh in 1994.  May God have mercy on him!

Our countries have a lot in common. Being dynamic and advanced, both countries have embarked on the path of modernization and transformation of our economy and society. The Land of Fire - Azerbaijan can definitely claim the title of the cradle of the modern hydrocarbon industry, since back in the 19th century oil was extracted from wells here. Today, we have a common and important interest in uniting together with the whole world to fight climate change and eliminate the consequences of global warming. ACWA Power is at the forefront of the Kingdom's renewable energy initiatives, increasing its wind and solar capacity to meet 50 percent of Saudi Arabia's domestic electricity needs from renewable sources by 2030. As we noted today, the $300 million investment in Azerbaijan is ACWA Power's largest investment outside of Saudi Arabia. As you know, the capacity of this power plant will be 240 megawatts, which will provide electricity to 300,000 homes. At the same time, 220 million cubic meters of gas will be saved, and during the year we will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 400,000 tons. Thus, we will make a significant contribution to Azerbaijan's goal of obtaining 30 percent of electricity by 2030 from renewable energy sources.

In addition, ACWA Power will sign a Memorandum of Understanding for the construction of an offshore wind farm in Azerbaijan, with a total capacity of about 500 megawatts. At the initial stage, the potential application of wind energy and possible application in the production of green hydrocarbons will be studied.

Mr. President, today I note with a sense of pride that we, as two ministries, are working together, we hope to develop a memorandum by the end of this quarter, which will determine the ways to promote cooperation between the two ministries in many aspects - in the oil and gas sector, in the production of petrochemical products, in renewable energy, an economy built on reducing carbon emissions. If there is a common desire for cooperation, then we must build interaction in all aspects. This is of great importance for the country and its people, for us. Cooperation with the leadership of this country is of great importance to us. What could be better than to see how two Muslim countries, despite the great distance between them, are so close to each other in their plans. This is due to the far-sightedness, the will of the leaders of our countries, regardless of the distance that separates us. Thus, the unifying factor for our countries is such a common agenda as improving the well-being of our peoples. Thank you Mr President.

A video about the work done in Azerbaijan in the field of renewable energy was shown at the ceremony. Following the speeches, President Ilham Aliyev and Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman al-Saud laid a foundation stone for the station.

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