In the oil-soaked West African nation of 187 million people, solar is slowly infiltrating every part of society in Nigeria. It is awakening entrepreneurial instincts, giving life to innovative payment models, and promising to restore at least some faith in the government’s ability to bring electricity to citizens used to frequent blackouts or no power at all.
A recent report produced by Power Nigeria, which is taking place from 5-7 September at the Landmark Centre in Lagos, highlighted the need for additional solar capacity in the country and what challenges the country faces to achieve this.
In 2017, financial closure is expected on at least some of the 14 solar plant projects announced in July 2016. If successful, they’ll bring a total of 1.2GW to Nigeria, largely in the north, far from most conventional generation capacity.
Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country and has power capacity of roughly 5GW (at peak in February 2016), but dropped to less than half that in January 2017.
Half of Nigerians have no access to grid-based electricity. About 40% of Nigerian grid-powered businesses use supplemental energy. The rule of thumb is 1GW is needed per million people, in a fully developed economy. That means Nigeria has a 181GW deficit. The 1.2GW of solar doesn’t make a dent.
Yet Nigeria aims for renewables to supply 30% of output by 2030. The social consideration is significant in a country suffering terrorist violence in the north, energy vandalism in the south, and poverty levels of 70%. One business solution is to initially provide smart metres only to those who pay bills, and use that revenue to build the infrastructure and subsidise other end-users. Instead, there is a push to get everyone a smart meter at once.
Despite the push for utility-scale solar, much of Nigeria’s solar power may start off-grid. As Nigeria’s growing community of solar PV entrepreneurs will tell you, anyone with a diesel or petrol generator is a potential solar client. In 2016, Nigeria imported US$23m worth of solar panels, not including integrated or plug-and-play solar kits. That makes Nigeria the world’s second largest solar panel importer among emerging economies, behind India, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
Most of those panels weren’t meant for utility-scale projects. Nigerians have long sought out their own electricity sources, but for most, solar is not an obvious solution. It’s deemed expensive, they can be serviced poorly, and public awareness is low.
To help tackle these issues and bring the discussion of solar to the forefront, the Power Agenda conference at Power Nigeria will dedicate a day of discussion to different aspects of the solar chain. Verticals such as rural, urban and hybrid solar will be covered, as well as a session on supporting solar in Nigeria and how pay-as-you-go and mobile payment systems are changing the power business model.
Some of the key speakers on the day are: Olu Ogunlela, co-Founder, Gridless Africa; Tinyan Ogiehor, technical advisor (Solar PV), Solar Nigeria Programme (UK DFID programme); Suleiman Yusuf, CEO, Blue Camel Energy; Ifeanyi Odoh, regional sales manager – solar business, Schneider Electric; and Wale Rafael Yusuff, head of sales – Nigeria, Clarke Energy.
The 2017 edition of Power Nigeria will be the largest to date and is set to attract over 100 exhibitors from 11 countries, offering visitors a first look of some of the latest products available on the market covering a range of products relating to power generation, transmission and distribution. This year, there has also been a significant increase in country pavilions from one to three with representation from Turkey, China and India.
Some of the standout exhibitors this year include Cummins, Polycab, GWB Energy, Schneider Electric, Sterling & Wilson and Skipper Seil.
Power Nigeria draws on the strengths of Informa Industrial Group’s geographical foothold in the Middle East and Africa through its partner events Electricx and Solar-Tec in Cairo, and Middle East Electricity in Dubai, which holds the title of world’s largest power event.
Power Nigeria will take place at a new purpose built exhibition venue in Lagos – Landmark Centre, Nigeria from the 5-7 September 2017. Visitor pre-registration can be done online at www.power-nigeria.com