Culture and Lifestyle

Nigeria’s Power Challenge: FG Set to Explore Solar Solutions

Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo, recently flagged off a project in Jigawa State to provide solar power electricity to five million Nigerian communities. The Vice-President noted that the “President had emphasised that we could no longer rely solely on the grid if we were to electrify the whole country, which meant that we had to develop an effective strategy for decentralizing power supply. Two obvious things to do were, first to think of implementing more off-grid solutions and to use renewable energy especially solar power.

“Another challenge turned opportunity was COVID-19 and our response to the economic fallout of the pandemic – the Economic Sustainability Plan. A fundamental rationale for the plan was to retain existing jobs and create new jobs.

“A mass solar programme seemed like a real chance to kill several birds with one stone; electrify the country and in the process, create thousands of jobs from solar assembly and manufacturing plants to installers, payment system operators, and maintenance of solar systems once installed.”

The Jangefe community will get 1,000 Solar Home Systems connections for her over 5,000 population. The project is being handled by A-Solar, a local solar power company implementing aspects of the ESP Solar Power Naija scheme. The Jangefe communities are to pay monthly until the systems are fully paid for at that point there will be a transfer of ownership to each consumer in the community.

This was explained by Laolu Akande, Special Assistant to the Nigerian President for Media and Advertising when he pointed out that“the solar kits could be fully owned by the beneficiaries after three years. In the meantime, they will pay for the installation at a cost ranging from 1,500 naira (about US$4) per week to 4,000 naira (about US$10.5) per month depending on capacity and over a three-year period.”

After Jangefe Community in Roni Local Government Area (in the Kazaure Emirate), Jigawa State, the rollout will continue across the six geopolitical zones in Edo, Lagos, Adamawa, Anambra, Kebbi and Plateau, before reaching all 36 States and the FCT; and covering 25 million Nigerians in the end.

The “Solar Power Naija” initiative is expected to generate an additional N7 billion increase in tax revenues per annum and $10 million in annual import substitution. It became imperative to take on an energy reform, especially with a government report noting that around 55% of the country’s 190 million inhabitants have no access to grid-connected electricity, and even those with nominal access to centralised power are often affected by power cuts and outages.

According to the World Bank, about 60 Million Nigerians spend more than N1.6 Trillion on fossil fuel generators yearly. International Renewable Energy Agency, reported that Nigeria had only installed 28 MW of solar by the end of 2019, despite its huge potential. Improving the country’s solar infrastructure by encouraging off-grid solar projects, which will take advantage of the country’s abundant sunlight, and sidestep the leaky grid infrastructure that has hindered energy consumption for so long should be a game-changer.

Countries around the world are considering the strong option. As Al Jazeera reports, sunlight is the greatest life-giving force on our planet and a potential source of more clean energy than we can ever use. The amount of solar energy reaching the surface of the Earth is estimated to be a staggering 3.4 million exajoules (EJ) a year. The sun’s rays bathing the Earth in a single year are enough to supply humanity, at its current rate of primary energy consumption, with energy for 7,000 to 8,000 years.

That means that capturing just a minuscule fraction (less than 0.1 percent) of this abundance could theoretically cover all our energy needs. It is little wonder that solar energy has created such a buzz of excitement. It is “free”, clean, green, and is in absolutely no danger of running out for the rest of human existence.

However, if at least half of the produced electricity comes from solar power, land for solar would amount to over 50% of the current EU urban land, over 85% for India, and over 75% in Japan and South Korea. This huge demand for land will not help the renewable transition. This is according to a European Union-funded study.

Solar farms require land. Research has shown that if a point can be reached where 80 per cent of the world’s electricity needs are covered by solar in 2050, it would require a commitment of up to 5 per cent of land for panels. While this might not sound too big, everything human-made in Europe – including cities, towns, roads, and other infrastructure – only makes up 4 per cent of available land. This gives perspective when it comes to the sheer quantity of panels required to become completely sustainable using the sun.

Read Also: Energy Challenge: Exploring the Solar Option

The assumed potential for concentrated solar power and photovoltaic generation is around 427,000 MW. According to estimates, the designation of only 5% of suitable land in central and northern Nigeria for solar thermal would provide a theoretical generation capacity of 42,700 MW.

If the land will pose a problem to a solar vision, pundits have said that the ultimate strategy is to install panels on satellites in space, closer to the sun, which then beams this power back to Earth. China’s Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation is working around this by capturing sunlight closer to the sun and then sending this back to Earth, so there can be access to even more renewables. But while installing panels in space is feasible, it is costly, and pundits opine that the technology to transmit it back to Earth is not readily available.

Meanwhile, B&S Power, a Singapore-based renewable energy corporation, and Sunnyfred Global in collaboration with other stakeholders and Technical Partners are working on constructing West Africa’s largest solar PV farm in Nigeria – The Ashama 200 MW solar PV project. The Solar PV Project is located on about 304 Hectares of Land in Ashama Village, Aniocha South of Delta State in Nigeria.

New and renewable energy technologies such as solar have a transformational role for many homes in Nigeria. The case for residential solar photovoltaic (PV) systems in Nigeria is based on the ability of the technology to provide cost savings, and power reliability for consumers.

Solar electricity systems, typically on rooftops, are the most common solar installations. They comprise of electricity-generating solar panels mounted on rooftops of residential or commercial buildings. With these, there are no fuel or maintenance costs for any mechanical moving parts. Solar technologies offer a much sought-after option in financial savings mixed with reliability when compared to the use of the most widely used alternative power technologies in Nigeria —petrol and diesel-powered generators.

Categories: Culture and Lifestyle, Features

Tagged as: