Oil-rich Azerbaijan could be flowing 7GW of power harnessed from Caspian Sea winds by 2040 with the “right long-term vision” by government and industry that balances decarbonisation and sustainable economic growth, according to the World Bank Group, which has rolled out a first-ever ‘roadmap’ to guide Baku’s policy plans.

The work, carried out by the World Bank and sister organisation the International Finance Corporation, scopes out expansion scenarios for “low growth”, resulting in 1.5GW of fixed foundation plant by 2040 making up 7% percent of the country’s power supply, to “high growth”, where with 7.2GW of turbines are turning, some 37% of its electricity mix.

“The high growth scenario will result in more energy, more jobs, faster pay-back and more carbon dioxide avoided compared to the low growth scenario due to the increased cost reduction delivered by a larger market, but significant and early action need to be taken for this to happen. Both scenarios would only be tapping into a fraction of the vast technical potential for offshore wind resource in the country,” said the World Bank.

“[But this needs] the right long-term vision, infrastructure development, investment, and policies - which could play an important role in achieving the country’s parallel priorities of decarbonisation and sustainable growth.”

The Azerbaijan offshore wind roadmap sets out recommendations for 2030 and 2036 deployment targets, kicked off by a first competitively bid 200MW demonstration project.

The World Bank also counselled “exploration of further potential offshore development zones, modernising infrastructure, adopting international best practices to attract financing, educating all government agencies and the future workforce to build the knowledge and capacity needed to deliver a pipeline of projects”.

Elnur Soltanov, Azerbiajan’s deputy minister of energy, said: “Over the past few decades, Azerbaijan has effectively leveraged our oil & gas resources in the Caspian Sea for the benefit of our country’s economic development. But the world is changing, and it is time to tap into a new resource in our seas – the power of offshore wind.”

“Offshore wind offers our country a unique opportunity to transfer our oil & gas expertise and workforce to a new sector that can simultaneously help us achieve our goals of decarbonisation and economic diversification to pave the way to a prosperous future for Azerbaijanis.”

The World Bank’s country manager for Azerbaijan, Sarah Michael, stated: “Our analysis of the high growth scenario suggests that offshore wind power could create thousands of jobs by 2040, as well as provide billions in local gross value added to the economy in Azerbaijan – all while avoiding millions of tons in carbon emissions.

“Further analysis shows offshore wind will play a significant role in reaching net zero emissions in Azerbaijan’s power sector – a key priority for the country.”

The roadmap is the latest in a series of country-specific reports produced as part of the so-called ESMAP programme, contracted to BVG Associates in association with Kent, and Encotec, and with the input of The Biodiversity Consultancy.

Azerbaijan is among the front-running 'second wave' offshore wind plays now emerging as the cost of power production using the technology continues to drop. Some 21GW of new sea-based projects were brought online around the world last year, according to the Global Wind Energy Council, with expectations from analyst group Wood Mackenzie that total global installed plant will grow ten-fold by the end of the decade, to reach 330GW.

The full World Bank Group report is available here.