In the last five years, the adoption of solar energy technology and other renewable forms have gained a huge prominence in Nigeria.
The shift to renewable energy sources with solar leading the pack was heightened after the federal government privatised about 18 thermal generation and distribution power firms on November 1, 2013.
With the takeover of private firms, the federal ministry of power said it is shifting from a sole operator of power utilities to making more policies and developing a robust environment where solar technology and other renewable energy forms will thrive in Nigeria.
The former Minister of State, Power, Mohammed Wakil in 2014 committed the country to the United States initiative - Power Africa with a target of generating 10,000megawatts (mw) by 2020 mostly from renewable energy sources including solar, wind, coal and biomass.
The Ministry also began the development of a renewable energy document in 2014. The Federal Executive Council approved the completed National Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Policy (NREEEP) in April, 2015 to guide the teeming local and foreign investors.
Standing tall in the comity of nations, Nigeria and other developing countries attracted about $126bn investment in renewable energy in 2014 with solar topping the list. With more emphasis on climate change and the Paris Climate Change Summit, clean energy investment has been rising significantly in 55 countries, a global assessment this week said.
Nigeria rose up along the ladder as its renewable investment rose higher in 2014 than the year before.
The Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) reporting the Climatescope stated that the investment will become more significant with the country’s new policy guide.
Climatescope, the clean energy country competitiveness index, interactive report, and online tool supported by the UK government, US government, and the Inter-American Development Bank Group offers a compelling portrait of clean energy activity in 55 emerging markets in Africa, Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean The group includes major developing nations China, India, Pakistan, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa, as well as dozens of others.
It said the new investment in renewables soared in 2014 in the 55 Climatescope countries assessed to hit a record annual high of $126bn up to $35.5bn, or 39 percent, from 2013 levels.
Solar is particularly competitive in emerging markets which often suffer from very high power prices from fossil generation while also enjoying very sunny conditions, the report said.
The Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF) of the Inter-American Development Bank Group (IDB), the UK Government Department for International Development (DFID), and the US Agency for International Development (USAID), under President Barack Obama’s “Power Africa” initiative, commissioned Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) to analyze and rank development prospects for solar, wind, small hydro, geothermal, biomass, and other zero-carbon emitting technologies (excluding large hydro).
The report provides potential investors with important information identifying countries with the greatest clean energy investment opportunities.
Nigeria signed many pacts with investors worth over N40billion mostly in > solar energy technology between 2014 and November 2015.
Chief of these investments steps is that of Osun state and the French firm, Vergnet Group in April 2014 which said they are putting in N6.1billion to build a 13mw solar power plant. The project to be sited in Osogbo was take off July 2014 and would last for 14 months.
Vergnet is also constructing the N5billion 10mw wind farm in Katsina which
would be the first of its kind in Nigeria.
Earlier in January 2014, the federal government flagged off solar power in three village, Durumi, Shape and Waru in the Federal Capital Territory under the Operation Light-up Rural Nigeria (OLRN).
In Durumi, over 1,000 households benefits from the energy source. The former Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo said it was a pilot project and was meant to attract more of such across the 36 states.
In September, United States consortium, Global Business Resources, under the Power Africa said they would spend N17billion to provide two units of 50mw solar power plants in Kumbotso-Kano and Karu- Abuja towns.
The investment trend continued in 2015 when in February, the ministry signed another pact with a Nigerian-led Korean firm for 1,000mw solar plant to be sited in Kogi State. The firm said it secured a 2,700 hectares parcel of land from the state government to site the solar farm.
Ezetech, a Nigerian firm and two Chinese companies entered another pact in March for 1mw solar plants in clusters across the country. The Managing Director, Ezekiel Adeyemi said it has a proto-type 7.5kW solar-powered farm settlements in Ondo and 10kW in Ijebu Ode, assuring that the Company will showcase its expertise with world class technology.
Recently in November, a pact was signed for 50mw solar power in Machok-Kaduna state.
Beside the massive investment plans, the federal government is promoting the manufacturing of solar panels in Nigeria. This is expected to cut imports and make it affordable for household use in the Nigerian market.
The first solar panel manufacturing plant located in Karshi, Abuja would need $96million which is about N15.6billion to double its capacity from its estimated 7.5mw annual output, an official said.
The Executive Vice Chairman of the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) Solar Panel Manufacturing Plant, Engr. Mohammed Sani Haruna disclosed this early this yea.
The Managing Director Mr James Ocheje said “From the period of incorporation in September 2011, the plant has produced more than 2800 pieces of solar panels of different power ratings including 175 watts to 200watts capacity.”
At the recent Nigeria Alternative Energy Expo 2015, renewable energy experts said the use of solar energy is gaining more recognition but inventors would have to improve the technology for maximum energy conservation.
In his urge, former coordinator of government’s Operation Light-up, Dr. Albert Okorogu said, “Let us think about the real challenge of solar technology - how do we power systems at night where there is no sun, and during rainy and cloudy days?”
He said he alongside critical inventors are working on an invention that could surmount these while defeating the challenge of getting expand land to site an effective solar plant through miniaturization with long lasting Tesla batteries