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The International Writers Magazine: Solar Issues

Nigeria relies on renewable energy to boost electricity grid and economy
• Odimegwu Onwumere

Renewable energy is taking domination in Nigeria with the country targeting to accomplish 7 percent renewable energy use by 2025.

solar house

With the aid of solar energy, the country is working to provide power security to about 160 million of her population and boost her economy.

The solar energy project is however unlocking the country’s economical and industrial potentialities. It is also attracting more foreign investments, new-fangled scientific breakthroughs. Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State said that the effectiveness and deliverance of substitute energy technologies have to be taken improvement of.

Experts have been encouraging the authorities, noting that energy, which stimulates growth, is the bedrock of any economy. Even small and medium scale enterprises need energy if they must develop.

With the once over-dependence of Nigeria on gas to provide national grid is today being substituted with solar energy. Nigeria’s plentiful renewable energy resources that were once neglected have become amongst the economic pillars of the country in the areas of solar energy, biomass, wind energy, micro hydro-energy, hydro energy, biomass and biofuel, and others.

The Nigerian authorities have reckoned with the fact that one of the advantages of renewable energy is that it can be decentralized and, private investors encouraged into it. Specialists have been saying that government cannot do everything alone and that its investment is not sufficient, hence the need for private investment and other sectors to invest in renewable energy.

Professor Titilayo Kuku of the Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering, at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, stated, “Promotion of renewable energy and energy efficiency in Nigeria will address the challenges of power in the country. Green energy/renewable energy are cleaner sources of energy, and therefore are sustainable forms of energy. Renewable energy can continuously be harvested because they are inexhaustible in supply and have been considered by most developing countries as an essential component of extending access to affordable energy.”

Electricity grid
The Federal Government has to increase 2,483 megawatts (MW) to Nigeria’s electricity grid from renewable sources before the end of the year. While making a presentation on the draft policy, the Director of the Electrical Inspectorate Services (EIS) of the Ministry of Power, Abayomi Adebisi, said that the 2,483MW was targeted for this year.

This, he added, was for a short term mark while 8,188MW and 23,134MW were medium and long term targets for 2020 and 2030 respectively. In the policy, it has become manifest that the ministry of power promotes renewable energy nonstop. Adebisi has though said that renewable energy is predicted to contribute about 1.3 per cent of Nigeria’s energy.

In the same vein, Professor Kuku extolled the invention of renewable energy owing to the crisis facing the country’s electricity generation. In his voice: “With the current generated capacity of about 4,000MW for a population of about 160 million, with energy per capita of 30 watts, the country is in dire straits regarding energy sufficiency with the attendant consequences on all developmental indicators of employment, growth, production, cost of production, security, general wellbeing, among others.”

Individuals and groups support renewable energy
Governor of Lagos State, Fashola has been fighting to protect the environment and stop the resultant effects of climate change. He has been encouraging the residents of Lagos, to use alternative energy sources. The state government had entered into optional sources of energy, which is seen in its solar-powered street lights project.

The governor through one of his Senior Special Assistant on Energy and Mineral Resources, Dr. Fouad Animashaun, at the opening of the fourth Alternative Power Exhibition in Lagos, said that science had afforded substitute alternatives for establishment of energy without obliterating the environment.

“We have the renewable lanterns, renewable cookers; these are developments that will help reduce hazards to our environment. Solar energy is going to be very useful. This is a good time to get one solar product in our houses,” he said.

Because of the highlighted importance of renewable energy, the First City Monument Bank (FCMB) Plc, as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), supported Lagos renewable energy project by funding 2,500 rechargeable solar lamps for distribution to school children.

The bank’s Group Head, Corporate Communications, Mr. Ikechukwu Kalu, said: “We have participated in this renewable energy project in partnership with the Lagos State Electricity Board because the project is in line with the moral direction of giving back to society, which we share with the Lagos State Government. At FCMB, we believe that the communities in which we operate must benefit from our presence.”

It was said that Kalu had the perception that the rechargeable solar energy lamps will not only support the beneficiaries in their quest for knowledge, which will eventually lead many out of the vicious cycle of poverty, but also provide opportunity for students to be introduced to the essential paradigm of renewable energy and environmental sustainability.

The General Manager, Lagos State Electricity Board, Mr. Damilola Ogunbiyi, said: “Our aim in providing solar lanterns to school children is to enhance their efficiency and promote studying habits in them. We see FCMB as not only our bankers, but also as our energy development partners in this laudable initiative.”

The United Nation Development Programme (UNDP), said it will execute the Global Environment Facility (GEF) sponsored project aimed at promoting clean technologies and renewable energy in the country in June. Mr. Etiosa Uyigue of GEF/UNDP said in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja in February, that it will put into practice the Global Environment Facility (GEF) in June. This project was said to be sponsored by UNDP, aimed at promoting clean technologies and renewable energy in the country.

Call for more funding
“GEF is sponsoring the project with about 4.4 million dollars, but we are looking at compliment funding from private investment. This is because for every GEF project, there must be a counterpart funding from the government or any other investor.

“For the counterpart in this project, we are looking at 150 million dollars from private investment. This is to serve as catalyst to private investment in the renewable energy sector within the next five years in terms of generating electricity,” said Uyigue.

One of the Directors-General, National Directorate of Employment (NDE), Malam Abubakar Muhammed, called for more funding for renewable energy projects at all levels. Muhammed made the call in Akure when 50 trainees under an NDE programme were receiving starter tools for business in solar energy technology.

Represented by Mr. Kunle Obayan, the Director in charge of Small Scale Enterprises in NDE, Mohammed, said, “We believe that the trainees in renewable energy will transform their knowledge to discovering new sources of energy and create employment potential for others.

“Especially, solar energy is capable of generating employment in geometrical proportion; in design, harvesting, installation, and maintenance of solar energy gadgets.’’

Cost of renewable energy
SMARTÉ SOLAR SYSTEMS®, LTD., prides itself as a provider of US manufactured, high powered, turnkey solar powered street lights, solar powered billboard and signage, solar powered bus shelters and solar powered surveillance camera systems.

Another said that it is Solar Station Nigeria Limited: A Nigerian solar energy provider that provides energy solutions to people all over West Africa, with services that include planning of the systems, installation services, provision of solar battery equipment, sales, supplies and support services.

A public affairs analyst, Felix Okoli in an exposition on Wednesday July 9, 2014, said, “Personally, I use a Foldable Solar panel which I hang on my window facing the Sun and this cost me $60 (about N10200). I've also seen solar mobile chargers which are meant for just charging mobile phone batteries and those ones cost about $30 (N5100). In order to power my TV with a Solar panel, I would probably need a 100 Watt Solar energy and that costs about N25, 000 ($150) in the Nigerian market.

“The bottom-line is that the Solar panel you'll need would depend on how much power you need. Solar panels are categorized based on their power output. A 100 Watt Solar panel will cost more than a 10 Watt Solar panel and it continues like that. One of the first things to calculate before deciding on the type of Solar panels you want to buy is the Watt-Hours. This is basically a calculation you get by multiplying your Watt (Power) requirement by the number of hours you want those Watts.”

According to Okoli: “Let us assume you want to power your TV with a solar panel, one of the first things you’d need to find out is the power requirement for your TV; you can look at the back of your TV to confirm it.

“Let's assume it is 300 watts and you need to power it for at least 4 hrs. It then means that the Watt-Hours is 1200WH. The next step is to finding a Solar panel that can supply at least 1200 Watt-hrs and this power is normally going to be stored in a deep cycle battery.”

He continued: “Solar Panel Power = 1200WH/ (4hrs*0.85) (where 0.85 is a common factor that allows for natural heat loss), Solar Panel Power = 353 Watts or just 400 watts. You can simply get a single 400 Watt Solar panel unit, 4 units of 100 Watts Solar panels or 2 units of 200 watt Solar panels. You are also going to need a battery to store the power which the solar energy has generated and a 12V Deep cycle battery would do. Based on our power requirements of 1200WH, a 100AH 12V battery will be able to supply a total of 1200AH for the 4 hrs.”

Prices of some solar products in Nigeria were given by Okoli as follows: “80W solar panels: N38, 500; 130W solar panels: N62, 000; 140W solar panels: N67, 000; 160W solar panels: N76, 000; Grundfos Sqflex solar pumps: N230, 000.

“A professionally designed 1200 watts true sine wave inverter, for a solar power system with one-year warranty costs about N120,000. Good sealed maintenance free Inverter batteries for a solar power system can cost up to N50,000.”

Okoli supposed that where to buy Power Inverters, are as follows: “From Jumia solar panels from N85,000 - Konga.com – from N27,000.00. Pros of solar power systems include: energy from sun is free; zero emissions; Solar Power Systems offer silent operations; zero/reduced electricity bills; the cost of running solar power systems are low; solar panels last for up to 30 years with minimal maintenance cost.”

© Odimegwu Onwumere, is a Poet/Writer, writes from Rivers State. May 1st 2015-

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