Indications have emerged that Nigeria would require about 40,000 megawatts of electric power to satisfy its industrial demand. This is against its installed generation capacity of about 12,000 megawatts.
About 3,500 megawatts of the installed generation capacity, information gathered revealed, are supplied by gas-fired plants and hydro power systems. The majority of the gas-fired power plants are now burdened by problematic gas supplies, arising from pipeline vandalism by militant groups operating in the gas producing region of the Niger Delta.
Following this development, the tone of the conversation around utility- scale solar power in Nigeria has changed, as the complicated conditions for fossil-based grid generation has provided the needed motivation for the Federal Government and private sector to further explore clean-tech power.
Solar power generation, which was neglected, experts said, has now received huge attention, forming the centre of many power generation-focused conversations in Nigeria.
The Federal Government’s renewable energy programme estimates that “about 600,000 megawatts of electricity could be generated from just one per cent of Nigeria’s land mass, indicating that Nigeria could procure 100 per cent of its power from a renewable source such as solar.
The Federal Government, according to a source, was poised and willing to take advantage of its solar resource endowment by supporting investments in utility-scale solar power projects.
This ambition, it was gathered, could help spur the recently signed Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with 14 utility-sized solar power developers, which would add about 1,200 megawatts of solar capacity to the grid.
Chief Development Officer and Co-Founder of Canadian JCM Capital, which is one of the 14 solar power developers now operating in Nigeria, Mr. Justin Woodward, believes that solar power investors are also optimistic about the Nigerian opportunity.
Woodward said: “Nigeria has the potential to lead in utility-scale solar power in Africa, given its well-structured regulatory frameworks, the standard of which is mostly absent in many other African countries.
“From the good structure of the bulk trading company to the transmission company and the independent Distribution Companies (Discos), all of which combine to provide a level of operational clarity, which investors require.”
The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the Department for International Development (DFID) and local financial institutions already planned solar energy programme for thousands of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Nigeria.
The Country Manager of IFC, Eme Essien Lore, who disclosed that IFC was partnering with DFID and banks in Nigeria to achieve this goal, said that through its off-grid and embedded solar market development and finance programme, IFC would provide solar power to willing SME owners.