The head of state made a speech at the opening ceremony.
AzVision.az presents the transcript of President Aliyev's remarks:
- I congratulate you on the commissioning of the Main Control Center of the AzerEnergy Open Joint Stock Company. I am glad that many AzerEnergy units are located in this beautiful building – the dispatcher center, the main control room, the energy institute, a training center, a laboratory, and a culture center for power engineers. I believe that the conditions here are very good. Major reconstruction was carried out in this building in a short time. It is possible to say that the building has been rebuilt and the main departments of AzerEnergy are currently located in one place, in one center. Thus, there are more favorable management opportunities now because earlier the various units and departments of AzerEnergy were located in different places, in some cases even in substation buildings, which, of course, is not very suitable for management.
This building was constructed in Soviet times. Some time ago it was put up for privatization and removed from the balance of AzerEnergy. When I found that out, I gave an order to immediately return it to AzerEnergy, otherwise no-one knows what entrepreneurs would have created in this building after privatizing it. The building is very large and the premises are immense – about 4 hectares. The area of the previous building was 13,000 square meters and it has now been expanded and brought up to 20,000 square meters. Some hotel, a marriage palace, a residential building or a catering facility would have been created here and energy workers would have lost this building.
After the building was returned to power engineers, work began on major reconstruction and repairs at the end of 2018, and they have been successfully completed. This once again shows that the Azerbaijani state attaches great importance to the energy sector. It is no coincidence that our first steps on to the implementation of infrastructure projects were related specifically to the energy sector. Back in 2004, when the first state program on the socioeconomic development of the regions was adopted, the focus of all infrastructure projects was on the energy sector. This was natural because at that time we could not provide ourselves with electricity. We received electricity from abroad. Both the currency went abroad and the infrastructure lines available to us at the time did not enable us to provide the country with electricity. Electricity was cut off at night even in the city of Baku. Representatives of the younger generation may not remember this, but I remember that television broadcasts stopped at 12 am at that time, so that people would not watch TV and use a lot of energy. In other words, there was a huge deficit. As for the regions of Azerbaijan, people living there did not even know what sustainable energy supply was. In the best case, electricity was supplied for two to four hours a day, which, of course, negatively affected people's way of life and also created big problems for our economic and industrial potential. Therefore, on my instructions, great attention was paid to this issue in the first regional development program, and we immediately started to work. At that time, we began the construction of regional power plants. To some extent, the construction of power plants in Astara, Khachmaz, Sheki, Shahdag and Sangachal allowed us the opportunity to meet our needs. However, in parallel with this, we planned on the construction of large power plants, and a total of over 30 new stations have been built in our country over the past 16 years. If these stations had not been built, Azerbaijan would probably be five or 10 times more dependent on imports than in the early 2000s. Of particular importance among them are large stations. The largest station, the Janub power plant, was built in the city of Shirvan. Its generating capacity is approximately 800 megawatts. It is followed by the Sumgayit power plant with a capacity of 525 megawatts. The "Shimal-2" station was put into operation recently. It has a capacity of about 400 megawatts. The generating capacity of the Sangachal station is 300 megawatts. The capacity of only these four stations exceeds 2,000 megawatts. In addition, hydropower plants were built in various places across our country. It should be noted that the generating capacity of hydroelectric power plants built in the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic is capable of meeting the needs of the entire Autonomous Republic. The Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, which used to receive electricity from Iran and Turkey, fully provides itself today and even has export potential. In general, our country has export potential today, as we have transformed from a country importing electricity into one exporting it.
Of course, these major infrastructure projects require a lot of funds. Most of these funds were provided from the budget and the rest from loans that are now being repaid. Thus, we have created a very modern energy system and a stable energy supply has long been provided in the country. In addition, work done especially in recent years has completely transformed the energy economy. High-voltage lines, lines connecting us with neighboring states were extended, new substations were built in many places, transformers were installed. As part of my numerous trips to the regions, I always enquire and ask people how things are going with energy supply. In recent years, I always hear positive feedback. This makes me very happy and testifies that AzerEnergy and AzerIshig are doing a lot of work in this direction.
Our energy potential must be aligned with the growing economic development. At the same time, in the last two years, AzerEnergy has introduced a new project on restoring the generating capacities of existing stations, because most of these stations were built a long time ago. The situation at these stations could not please us. We all remember the consequences of the breakdown that occurred at the Mingachevir power plant. Our country plunged into darkness. There was a crisis at all metro stations and our country was in the dark. This breakdown occurred primarily due to negligence and irresponsibility. Therefore, the leaders of AzerEnergy were replaced and punished. New leaders were appointed. They have very specific tasks which are being fulfilled today, because energy supply is a source of life for any country. There will be nothing without it. Industry and agriculture will not develop without it, it will be impossible to provide irrigation work, public transport will not work. In general, life will be paralyzed. Therefore, our main goal was to create an independent energy system and eliminate dependence on other countries. We needed to create our energy potential in such volumes as to have sufficient generating capacities in reserve, and we have done that today. Various figures could be cited, but even the most pessimistic figures indicate that we currently have at least 1,000 megawatts of generating capacity in reserve. The restoration of the capacities of existing stations is nearing completion. Among them, the Thermal Power Station in Mingachevir should be noted in the first place because this is our largest generation capacity. As a result of the breakdown at this station, our country plunged into darkness. All eight units of this station are being reconstructed. I do hope that the station will be completely reconstructed and put into operation in the next few months. The amount of recovered capacity of this station alone is about 600 megawatts. Just imagine that thanks only to the correct restoration work, we will receive 600 megawatts of additional capacity. If we take this as a standalone station, we can see that in terms of its capacity it will become the second largest station in our country after the “Janub” station.
Restoration work is also underway at other power plants. I am sure that we will achieve our goals in this direction. All this work, as well as stability, calm, economic development of our country, growth of the industrial potential and, at the same time the construction of energy lines with neighboring countries contribute to the fact that foreign investors are already showing great interest in this area. We always wanted that. But seeing that foreign investors do not show interest in this area, we carry out all the work ourselves. A certain part of this work was covered by a loan but the main part was resolved at the expense of our own funds, and today Azerbaijan has one of the most efficient energy systems on a global scale. This is also confirmed by a report of the Davos World Economic Forum. I am saying this for a reason. In particular, the report of the Forum ranks Azerbaijan second in the world in terms of the accessibility of electricity. Just imagine – in second place. Only one country is ahead of us. So we are ahead of many developed countries. And we have done that in a short time.
Our independence is not even 30 years old. When we became an independent country, our energy economy was in a terrible state. It came into an even more terrible state afterwards. We remember those years. A certain company called “Barmek” appeared here, which, on the basis of shady dealings and conspiracy with former officials, took possession of the entire energy sector of the city of Baku and, instead of investing money, brought this system to a deplorable state and took millions outside of Azerbaijan. As if this wasn’t enough, it even wanted to sue us. On my instruction, an end was put to that dirty conspiracy, this fraudulent company was expelled from Azerbaijan and the AzerIshig Joint Stock Company was set up on my order. It was me who called it AzerIshig. We returned all our energy facilities into state ownership. If we hadn’t done this, we would have lived in darkness today, the entire property of AzerEnergy would have been plundered, including this building. Imagine, they put up a 13,000-square-meter building for privatization and tried to sell it for nothing. If I hadn’t found that out, if they hadn’t informed me, if I hadn’t given the order, they would have sold it. And look at what a beautiful building you are located in now. This is practically the main center to regulate our energy system. SCADA system, dispatch system, control system – everything is here. Where else could these be placed? They wanted to destroy our energy system.
Therefore, our citizens should know and remember this, remember where we started and where we are now – we are in second place in the world. At present, our energy potential underpins the growing economy. In the first three months of this year – although oil prices fell and the coronavirus pandemic seriously affected our country – non-oil industry growth was 23 percent. All these growing industrial enterprises require energy. Generation, transmission, uninterrupted supply – all this is provided today. Therefore, I believe that the opening of this building today has a huge symbolic meaning. Naturally, the Institute, the Main Control Center, the Training and Laboratory Center, and the Dispatch Center are located here. At the same time, this reflects the new face of our energy system. This building was removed from auction and returned to power engineers, to its actual owners. Therefore, citizens working in this building must honor their duty. They must make sure that our energy supply is always at a high level.
At the same time, a lot still remains to be done. AzerEnergy has ambitious plans, and I believe that as a result of a consistent policy, all of them will be implemented. I want to say once again that all this positive dynamics, as well as stability, have led foreign companies to decide to invest in Azerbaijan. In January this year, a preliminary agreement was reached and two major companies with extensive experience in the field of renewable energy signed the first agreements with Azerbaijan. Based on these agreements, 2 stations with a capacity of 440 megawatts will be built in our country only at the expense of foreign investors – one wind and one solar. I must also note that there were seven companies interested in implementing these projects, i.e. to make investment. I do not want to name them, but there were the largest energy companies in the world among them. But the competition showed that two companies offered the best conditions and they should already start work. The coronavirus did get in the way, a certain delay is possible, but, in principle, preliminary agreements have been reached. This, in turn, will open the way for other companies. Our renewable energy potential is fairly large, we have a lot of sun and wind. Therefore, I am sure that both local and foreign companies will show interest in this area.
I also want to note in connection with the activities of foreign companies that we kept this sector in state monopoly for some time, and I explained the reason for this. But at present, any company interested in investing in Azerbaijan can submit its proposals and build new stations, invest and work with us.
I am also aware that some companies are interested in the stations already in operation. However, it is necessary to analyze whether we need that or not because all operating stations are in working condition and large state investments have been made. If a foreign company can operate these stations better than us, then it should submit its proposals, show what its advantages are, and if we see that the stations will operate more effectively in private hands, then let them work. But I want to draw the attention of foreign investors primarily to new stations. Let them come and invest. After all, anyone would want to work when everything is up and running. So please come, invest, produce, transfer to a common system and expand your business. This is my recommendation to foreign and local companies. I am sure that from now on, the partnership between the state and private sectors will be possible in this area as well.
I sincerely congratulate you again and wish you and all the energy workers of Azerbaijan continued success. Thank you!
More about: Ilham-Aliyev