Yemi Osinbajo, a former vice president, has stated that Nigeria needs produce 5,300 megawatts (MW) of power annually, particularly from alternative sources, for the country to achieve energy sufficiency by 2060. But it is time for all hands to be on deck for the careful execution of the energy transition agenda and its possibilities, not merely talking about the future with enough energy as it should be.
Indeed, there is a need for Nigeria to adopt a new strategy through diversification of her energy sources in order to break off from the persistent energy shortage and epileptic power supply. The ETP provides a viable framework for achieving that crucial national goal, if well implemented. Osinbajo, at the opening the exhibition of the Nigeria International Energy Summit, in Abuja, noted that Nigeria’s Energy Transition Plan was “a bold and innovative move that calls for the ramping up of solar deployment to about 53 gigawatts per year until 2060.” Other expedient deliverables are: “the production of over six billion litres of biofuel annually to make green the transport sector on the path to e-mobility and the transition of at least two million Nigerian households to cleaner cooking fuels like Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) and electricity every year.”
For a fact, Africa has the greatest number of people with poor energy indices. The continent of over 1.4 billion people has the largest number of individuals without access to power, and clean cooking options in the world. But Africa in general, and Nigeria in particular, need not lament the problem ad infinitum – where there is will. The leadership only needs to get to work within the current reality of energy possibilities.
For instance, a great euphoria recently greeted the commissioning of the Torankawa community solar power project in Yabo Local Government Area of Sokoto State. The project was a testimony of how not to perpetually look up to the central authorities for critical infrastructure development – in a complex federation such as Nigeria. The Torankawa people had wallowed in total blackout for five years without the state government responding to their pleas.
According to reports, the people of Torankawa, prior to the commissioning of the solar power, had only an inactive four-kilometre power line connected to the community. The dead service line under the Kaduna Electric franchise area had been out of supply for about five years. The line was revived under the grid- connected solar power delivered by the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, after the
community was chosen for the pilot project. With the commissioning of the plant, the community
began to enjoy 24-hour uninterrupted power supply.
And the people are happy to pay for what they are consuming. That brings to an end the era of outrageous estimated bills too. There is also less dependence on electricity generators, which pollute the environment. Another remarkable feature in the deal is that the project was made possible by cooperation between the community and the government. The people donated the land. The project reportedly cost N146 million. With a 125 KVA capacity, being the first of its kind in Nigeria, will supply 350 households with uninterrupted power.
Other solar power plants in parts of the country are off-grid too. The project includes a water facility for routine cleaning of about 100 solar panels. The benefits are indeed heartwarming.
Without doubt, the Torankawa solar power project is a good success story that is worth replicating. Authorities in the power sector should move to sell this project to state governments in the country – instead of relying solely on the inadequate national grid. Faced with an intractable poor power supply situation, this newspaper has consistently advocated a well-structured energy mix that has a strong solar energy component to boost power supply. Therefore, the government should seek alternative ways of supplying power to the country as this model in the Torankawa community has shown.
Meanwhile, a claim by the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, that solar energy is more expensive than the other types of energy may have been demystified by the Torankawa example. With a meager N146 million, the Torankawa community is now connected to uninterrupted solar power supply. This is against the backdrop of billions of dollars some authorities claimed to have expended on gas power plants without anything to show as results. The fact that many industrialised countries have installed large solar capacity into their national grid to supplement conventional energy vitiates any argument against solar energy.
The three largest solar power systems, with capacity to produce 1,477 MW are located in Southern California’s Mojave Desert in the USA. Several other countries in Asia, Europe and North America have adopted solar power as a viable option. In sub-Saharan Africa, only South Africa is in the league of solar energy countries, gearing to reach an installed capacity of 8, 400 MW by 2030- as supplementary sources.
Hydro power is another viable option. The development of hydro-energy would greatly boost power supply. Unfortunately, the three major hydro power stations at Kainji, Jebba and Shiroro have been poorly managed. The dams were virtually abandoned without maintenance for a long time leading to gross reduction in their output. That explains why the dams could not provide minimal power in the face of failure of the gas plants. Apart from hydro, the other alternatives include wind and coal, among others. Government has also expressed interest in biofuel energy.
Sadly enough, Nigeria has been lousy over the adoption of solar energy as an option. So, plans
to build solar power plants in different parts of the country should be sustained. Solar energy
cannot be the most expensive source of energy and yet has worldwide appeal. It is high time
that Nigeria reordered her priority, especially in the context of energy sources.