Nigeria now considers solar as the best and real option she has to quickly generate the volume of electricity required to electrify about 89 million of her people who currently do not have any form of grid-connected electricity in their homes, the country’s power minister, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, declared this at a recent public function at the University of Lagos, Mr. Fashola (SAN), said solar presented to Nigeria the real window of opportunity to increase her power production.
He further explained that the government has taken up a serious commitment to solar, adding that some key solar power generation projects have been initiated by it to buttress this commitment.
“Solar power presents the real window of opportunity to quickly increase power and also give people access. We have shown that we can deliver solar by completing the 1.2MW solar project in the lower Usman Dam area. We have signed power purchase agreements with 14 developers who potentially can deliver 1,125 MW of solar,” said Fashola, who in January 2017 made some uncomplimentary remarks on solar.
During the launch of the MTN Lumos solar home system in Abuja, the minister in his remarks expressed doubts on the capacity of solar in comparison with fossil fuel. His remarks were however tactfully sidestepped by the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Stuart Symington, who spoke well in defense of solar.
But in Lagos, a perhaps converted Fashola told an audience of mostly university community that solar was the new power, and appealed more to the young people of the country.
“For the avoidance of doubt solar is the new power, its appeal is very strong with young people and it provides a unique opportunity to close our power supply deficit,” he noted.
He said government has initiated key solar projects, adding, “we are partnering with Jigawa state to deliver about 1,000MW of solar power at a site of 2,000 hectares already delivered to us by the state government. The project is at design and preparation stage.”
“We have completed the energy audit to deliver independent power to 37 universities and 7 teaching hospitals and one of them is the University of Lagos. 27 of those plants will be solar plants.
“These are only one side of what government is doing to deliver incremental power through solar. The other side is what citizens have started on their own with solar.
“My final word on these sources of power generation is that they speak to the idea of an energy mix; and we have delivered one for Nigeria which targets 30% renewable of our total energy production by 2030,” he explained.
Strong commitment of private investors:No doubt, the new pages opening up for solar in Nigeria have being buoyed more by the growing commitment of private sector renewable energy investors and operators in the country’s solar power market.
Key solar market supporters and operators in the country have over time developed and kept a thick skin on their commitment to the sector despite the various in-country challenges that have prevented a swift lift of the market in Nigeria.
They have through their private investments kept up conversations about solar as the next most preferred source of energy to help cut the country’s deep energy poverty.
Similarly, their investments in the technology have continued to make great inroads for the technology, thus clearly keeping it in the front burners of energy conversations within key economic circles in the country.