Nigeria Moving Into Solar Energy To Spur Business Growth

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Written by D.A. Barber

Nebo told the Power Expo that the ministry was partnering with investors to ensure that rural areas not connected to national grid were connected to renewable sources of electricity and that would have multiplier effects on increasing development, income, standard of living, and job opportunities.

German Solar Coming to Nine States

A few days after the Power Expo, National Energy Council Secretary Alhaji Ibrahim Njiddah announced at the annual conference of the German-Nigerian Energy-Partnership in Abuja on October 21 that Nigeria had finalized details to work with Germany solar firms to bring 420 megawatts of solar projects to Nigeria within five years.

Nigeria and Germany also extended the Nigerian-German Energy Partnership (NGEP) for a further five years, which was originally implemented in August 2008. These new solar projects will focus on the nine Nigerian states of Adamawa, Bauchi, Benue, Borno, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano, Nasarawa and Sokoto.

Each of the states have requested a 30MW solar plant, with the exception of Kano and Nasarawa who are hoping for three or four plants scattered across their two states. Each plant is estimated to cost between $50 to $60 million.

To facilitate funding, the Infrastructure Bank Plc  was appointed by the Nigerian government to “bring together all the developers who have indicated interest in developing power plants and all the state governments that have indicated interest to have solar power in their states.”

These new plans add to already existing renewable projects that are in the works.

Synergent Nigeria – a partnership formed in 2009 between US Synergent Ventures and local energy suppliers to create Synergent PowerShare Nigeria, Ltd. – announced its first commercial project will be in Kaduna City, Kaduna, to establish a 50MW “Solar Development Corridor” aimed at “helping to reduce the costs, complexities and time frames typically associated with building solar projects one-at-a-time.”

Synergent is also constructing a Community Microgrid Pilot project in Abuja and hopes for broad-scale deployment across all 36 states. Once completed, another 1MW Community Microgrid Project in Cross Rivers will serve as “a model for the South-South region, and will expand into other States as quickly as we can initiate agreements,” according to the company.

Meanwhile, the Bauchi state government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Nigeria Solar Capital Partners to establish 100MW solar farm at Zongoro in Ganjuwa. It is a joint venture between Industry Capital, a US-based private equity group with over $1.4 billion in assets under management, and Dutch-based developer Gigawatt Global.

Over the next several years, NSCP intends to push for some $1 billion dollars in investment for development and management of utility-­scale solar farms in Nigeria. Their goal is up to 500MW of utility scale solar in Nigeria by 2020.

Upgrading the Grid

There are currently 23 grid-connected generating plants in operation in the Nigeria, with 83 percent being thermal based and the rest proving hydro-power to urban areas.

But according to an October 2012 U.S. Energy Information Administration report, Nigeria experienced power outages on average of 46 days per year between 2007 and 2008, with many outages lasting up to six hours.

This electric grid operating inconsistency has created uncertain economic conditions for businesses.

To deal with the grid issue, California-based Enphase Energy, Inc. announced its Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Commitment to Action and has partnered with Beacon Power Services to provide a pilot project of an innovative solar energy microgrid system at Sundry Foods, located in Abuja.

“Enphase is proud to have created a Clinton Global Initiative commitment to help address energy challenges in Nigeria and reduce their dependency on polluting diesel generators,” Raghu Belur, co-founder and vice president of Enphase Energy, said in a written statement.

Recent advances in micro-inverter and smart metering technology has allowed solar micro-grids to quickly become a cost-effective way for powering whole villages or even clusters of villages in other developing countries, according to the company.