In recognition of the scale of the problem, the Federal government’s 2015 National Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Policy (NREEEP) was approved followed in 2016 by the Rural Electrification Strategy and Implementation Plan (RESIP.) Being in the solar belt, Nigeria enjoys an average of 9 hours per day of sunshine, relatively constant all year round. Harnessing this energy to generate electricity must form a part of the solution to decreasing Nigeria’s energy poverty. Increased focus on the renewable energy (RE) sector including Vision 30:30:30, to achieve 30 GW power generation by 2030 with renewable energy contributing 30% of the energy mix has led to significant developments of solar energy solutions across the nation.
The Rural Electrification Agency (REA) has spearheaded efforts to increase electricity access to rural and underserved communities using solar power. Under the Nigeria Electrification Project (NEP) supported by the World Bank, NEP aims to provide reliable power supply for 250,000 MSMEs and 1 million households using both standalone solar systems and solar hybrid minigrids. The first of the minigrids component was commissioned in Rokota Community in Niger State with a 64KW solar capacity, to serve approximately 3,000 people. REA is also implementing the Energizing Education Programme that will in its first phase deliver 28.5MW to 9 Federal Universities and 1 University Teaching Hospital, using solar hybrid and/or gas-fired captive power plants. Currently ongoing is the agency’s Energising Economies Initiative. Working with the private sector, REA aims to provide clean, reliable energy to economic clusters across Nigeria. A pilot in Sabon Gari market in Kano delivers electricity to 13,600 shops using decentralised solar energy.
The private sector is contributing its part especially with members of the Renewable Energy Association of Nigeria (REAN) whose projects span across the nation both for domestic and commercial and industrial use. Recently Nayo Tropical Technology was the project developer for REA’s 90kW Solar Hybrid Mini-Grid project in Kebbi State in an agricultural and fishing community of just over 3,000 people. A 100 kWp solar off grid solar solution now supplies electricity in Akpabom, Akwa Ibom State courtesy of the developer, GVE Projects. To begin to address the need for importation, Auxano Solar runs the first solar assembly plant in West Africa. Nigerian-owned business are blazing a trail in the solar energy industry.
These welcome developments strengthen the conviction that Nigeria stands to benefit immeasurably from solar energy – increased access to electricity, increased productivity and increased opportunities for job creation among other positive developments.
With Nigeria’s population expected to grow to slightly over 400 million by 2050, energy demand will continue to grow. Meeting this energy demand while remaining mindful of harmful emissions and greenhouse gases remains a challenge - one that can be met by solar energy. The potential to transform lives by deploying solar energy solutions is huge.
Agriculture which contributes 30% to Nigeria GDP can be boosted by solar energy. Recently, Sosai Renewable Energies, was one of the 2019 winners of the All-On/United States African Development Foundation Off-Grid Energy Challenge. Sosai will receive grant funding to support their project to power solar dryers from existing mini grids. For communities dependent on farming, this allows for better preservation and increased productivity.
Healthcare – A recent study supported by the Heinrich Boll Foundation found that access to reliable electricity is critical for the efficient running of Primary Health Care Centres (PHCs). This can speedily be delivered to PHCs through off-grid Solar PV (which the study has proven to be more economical and reliable). The study recommends the mainstreaming of standard off-grid renewable energy through Solar PV for lighting, heating and cooling in the design, construction and rehabilitation of all PHCs in Nigeria. This provides the opportunity to improve overall healthcare especially in rural areas and will be the focus of activities in collaboration with stakeholders come 2020.
Access to finance – scaling up solar deployments remains a vital consideration in the effort to ensure that every Nigerian has access to clean, reliable and affordable energy. Working together, the public and private sectors will build on existing relationships while also taking learning from numerous conversations on how best to de-risk in the sector to further attract investment. Support from international agencies such as GIZ’s Nigeria Energy Support Programme will see the implementation of the Interconnected Mini-grid Acceleration Scheme (IMAS), the UK’s Climate Finance Accelerator will continue to build momentum on green bonds, these among various other initiatives.
Leveraging on Vision 30:30:30, government should continue to support the growth of the RE sector with policies backed by legislation that will support activities within the sector. Work is ongoing among multi stakeholder groups to develop a Consolidated Renewable Energy Bill. The Bill will address Regulatory, Financial, Technical and Administrative matters in order to lay a solid foundation on which the sector can grow.
Ever decreasing costs of solar PV panels, increased technology especially in the areas of storage and digitalisation, improved access to finance and properly implemented policies give optimism that solar energy can form part of the solution to reduce the lack of access to energy in Nigeria while also aiding in the efforts to mitigate climate change.
Collaborations are key to achieving the overarching goals with a boost in socio-economic development in the country a beneficial outcome. With all stakeholders playing an active role and working together in the areas of creating an enabling environment, increasing awareness of RE, providing access to finance and developing local content there can be no doubt that the future of solar energy in Nigeria is bright.
Executive Secretary, Renewable Energy Association of Nigeria (REAN)