Oge Obi

As the awareness on alternative energy increases in the country, Nigerians are beginning to show strong interest to switch over to better and more effective sources of energy for their homes and businesses. This may also not be unconnected to the huge benefits these alternative sources of energy offers which include, being cheaper and cleaner energy; environmental friendly, employment, economic growth propeller.

The Rural Electrification Agency in a recent assessment of the Nigeria’s mini-grid market has disclosed that Nigeria is still far from meeting the energy need of her teeming population. It noted that a significant amount of the economy is powered largely by small-scale generators (10-15GW) and almost 15 per cent of the population has limited or no access to the grid.

According to the report, Nigerians and their businesses spend almost $14 billion annually on inefficient generation that is expensive (0.40/kWh or N140/kWh or more), poor quality, noisy and polluting. Adding that many rural households spend more than $6/month (N2,100/month) on kerosene or battery powered torches, making case for solar homes systems.

The REA findings from some select communities also revealed that there are high densities of power use, large latent demand, and a strong willingness by the people to switch to more-effective alternatives.

“Some communities indicated both the ability and willingness to contribute to the up-front cost of electricity infrastructure.  Many not the on-grid communities are still underserved and are interested in alternative electricity sources.

“There is a huge opportunity for the development of underserved areas and that many of the on-grid communities are still underserved and are interested in alternative sources.

“So, developing off-grid alternatives to complement the grid creates a $9.2B/year market opportunity for minigrids and solar home systems that will save $4.4B/year for Nigerian homes and businesses.

The report noted the that it is high time investors took advantage of the opportunity the renewable energy offers to the world, especially to the African continent. Stressing that getting off-grid solutions to scale and commercial viability in Nigeria will unlock an enormous market opportunity in sub-Saharan Africa across 350 million people in countries with smaller demand and/or less-robust economies.

The independent assessment of the Nigerian mini-grid market which is as a result of a partnership between Rural Electrification Agency, the World Bank (EnergyTeam), and Rocky Mountain Institute concluded that the Nigerian market alone is enough to bring mini grid to scale.

The report further stated that the Government is prioritising the off-grid solution as part of the country’s overall power sector recovery plan. Adding that “Nigeria has been recognised as the biggest and most attractive off-grid opportunity in Africa, with one of the best locations in the world for mini grid. With an enabling environment, continued cost reductions, and targetted finance, the Nigerian mini-grid market can scale rapidly to over 10,000 sites by 2023, powering 14 per cent of the population with capacity up to 3,000mw.

According to an industry stakeholder and President of Green Elec, Mr. Marcel Hochet, Nigeria requires a combination of different sources of power in order to boost the electricity supply in the country. He noted that it is not enough for Nigeria to depend solely on the traditional methods of generating power such as gas and hydro. According to Hochet, the use of renewable energy source such as solar, wind, biomass and coal is also important. Adding that a combination of off-grid and on-grid sources of generating power would help in improving pose supply in Nigeria.

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