Azerbaijan: The Land Of Fire
Land of Fire
Throughout history, oil and gas have shaped Azerbaijan’s political, economic, and geographical landscape. The country pumps nearly one million barrels of oil a day, making it a major contributor to the energy industry. Along with natural gas, like the kind found in the weirdly wonderful mud volcanoes of Gobustan and fiery hillside Yanar Dag, massive reserves of oil lie beneath the Earth, where it has formed over the last 300 million years.
Approaching the oil fields from a distance you begin to understand just how big the oil industry is here. The oil pumps look like enormous stick figure birds, dipping their beaks repeatedly to the ground as they pump crude oil up from the deep within the Earth.
Even though the country plans to expand its investment in oil and gas, it is also investing a lot in alternative power sources. Throughout Azerbaijan, the people I meet speak about the need for alternative energy sources like wind and solar power to prepare for a future when resources like petroleum are no longer widely available.
The origin of wind power dates back to around 500 CE with the invention of the windmill. The idea to harness wind to generate electricity popped up in the late 1800s, when the first wind turbines appeared in Scotland, Denmark, and America. Today, wind farms consist of multiple turbines working together to generate large amounts of electricity.
The open plains of Azerbaijan are often very gusty, making them an ideal location for wind energy production. Azerbaijan isn’t the only place using this kind of technology, though. Countries like the Netherlands and the UK are some of the top producers of wind energy. In the deserts of southern California – where I live – there are entire fields of wind turbines, constantly spinning and producing energy.