Reyhan Jamalova is a first-year student at the Istek Lyceum in Baku. At 15, she has already developed an ingenious device to generate electric current from rain. “If we can obtain energy from the wind,” she explained to the Azer News weekly, “why not also try with water coming from the sky?” Together with her friend Zahra Gasimzade and the help of their Physics Professor, Jamalova worked for four months on the development of a device that could produce energy from rainfall. “We called it Rainergy and it will help us solve the lack of electricity, especially in poorer countries where it rains a lot.”
Originally developed for regions in Azerbaijan, the project was promoted by the local government, which financed its initial development costs (ca. US$ 20,000). The project immediately caught the attention of new investors, particularly in India. Unlike solar panels and Aeolic turbines (that require significant investments and specialised technicians), Jamalova’s device is relatively simple.
This great small story has become popular for two reasons. The first is that Rainergy was presented at the global summit of new entrepreneurs held in India in November 2017; the second is that thanks to this invention, Reyhan was included amongst the 30 main Asian innovators under 30 published by Forbes. Reyhan Jamalova is the first Azerbaijani woman to obtain such a prestigious recognition.
Not Only Oil
Energy in its many forms seems to be central to the thoughts of the many people living in this area, even at a young age! Indeed, the former Soviet Republic not only represents a natural bridge between modern Turkey in Western Asia and the Turkestan countries of Central Asia, but it also is a historically oil-rich country. It extracts and exports oil to many countries, including Italy.
Azerbaijan is also in the news because of the TAP Project. The Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) stretches from the Turkish/Greek border across Greece and Albania to Italy (in the Province of Lecce). This gas duct – that will allow natural gas to flow from the Caspian Sea Area (Azerbaijan) towards Europe – has been considered a strategic work by Italian President Sergio Mattarella.
Last summer, while on an official visit to Baku to consolidate economic cooperation relations between the two countries (Azerbaijan is Italy’s main provider of oil and the second supplier of gas), President Mattarella stressed the importance of “fully exploiting the potential along the Caspian – Black Sea – Mediterranean axis” and strengthening “new intercontinental trade routes that can drive long-term shared growth.”
A New Maire Tecnimont Plant
During the same state visit, President Mattarella (the first Italian President to visit Azerbaijan) and Azerbaijani President Ilham Alyev inaugurated a new polypropylene plant developed by Maire Tecnimont 30 kilometres north of the Azerbaijani capital. “Coming here with President Aliyev underlines the concrete collaboration between Italy and Azerbaijan. I must compliment SOCAR (the plant owner) and Maire Tecnimont for their commitment to growth, as well as for creating new jobs for both Italian and Azerbaijani companies.”
The two Presidents were greeted at the inauguration of the mega polypropylene hub at the Sumgayit Petrochemical Plant by the top management of the Maire Tecnimont Group: President Fabrizio Di Amato and CEO Pierroberto Folgiero. “It is a great honour for us to have Presidents Mattarella and Aliyev here at the inauguration of this plant,” declared Fabrizio Di Amato. “This project will allow Azerbaijan to produce technological polymers with a reduced environmental impact, diversifying the Azerbaijani economy and attracting foreign investments in the hi-tech sector.” The plant, which will contribute to the development of the Petrochemical Industry in Azerbaijan, will also provide a significant stimulus to the national manufacturing industry and promote the growth of the economic system in general.”
An Industrial Cooperation Gym
Indeed, this was an important operation by Maire Tecnimont – and not only in terms of the technological know-how it fielded, but also in terms of the rapidity and safety with which it completed the work. “The complex,” pointed out the Group President, “was completed on a fast-track schedule, completely respecting all work safety standards. We totalled 17 million man-hours without accidents at the construction site. Moreover, it served as an extraordinary industrial cooperation gym for Azerbaijani and Italian companies.” As often occurs abroad, Maire Tecnimont acted as a catalyst for the entire sector, involving over 120 Italian and 140 Azerbaijani companies in the project with a peak of 3000 workers, mostly Azerbaijanis.
These figures also include another project that the Group is completing in the District of Sumgayit. In fact, following the development of the plant, which will have the capacity to produce up to 180,000 tons of polypropylene per year, the Group will also construct a high-density polyethylene plant capable of producing 120,000 tons of polyethylene per year. Furthermore, thanks to its technology-driven expertise, Maire Tecnimont will also modernize the Baku Heydar Aliyev Refinery for SOCAR to permit the production of fuels that respect international environmental standards. Last, but not least, the Group is also committed to promoting university education. In cooperation with the Baku Higher Oil School, Maire Tecnimont has implemented a Development Programme to provide meritorious students with an opportunity to learn hands-on in the Group’s central offices in Baku and at the work site in Sumqayit.