The adoption of renewable energy has continued to gain momentum in Nigeria as households and businesses seek stable power supply amid persistent shortages in the country of over 200 million people.
Driven by a combination of government policies, technological advancements, and private sector investments, the use of renewable energy presents a viable platform for addressing Nigeria’s electricity woes, experts have said.
Those who spoke to BusinessDay said that renewable energy, including solar, wind and hydroelectric power, can help Nigeria not only to meet its energy needs, but also power sustainable economic growth and create jobs while achieving global climate and sustainable development objectives.
The average available power generation capacity in the country stood at 4,387.91 megawatts (MW) during the second quarter of 2023, data from the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) show.
NERC said the average available generation capacity of the 26 grid connected generating plants declined from 4,605.72MW in the first quarter. It showed that the average hourly generation from the plants stood at 4,059.94MWh/h while the total quarterly generation was 8,867.05GWh.
Rabiu Tajudeen, executive director of Oceanic Energy Limited, said renewable energy solutions have expanded, providing the needed electricity supply for Nigerians especially the unserved in rural areas.
According to him, with abundant sunshine and consistent winds across the country, Nigeria possesses a natural advantage in harnessing these clean energy sources to meet its growing energy demands.
He said the government recognised the importance of renewable energy and has implemented policies to encourage its adoption, adding that these policy measures have stimulated private sector investment in renewable energy development.
“Numerous solar and wind power plants are in various stages of development, and the country is witnessing a surge in rooftop solar installations for homes and businesses,” Tajudeen said.
“The impact of renewable energy is already being felt across Nigeria. Solar-powered irrigation systems are improving agricultural productivity, while off-grid solar solutions are providing electricity to rural communities previously without access. Wind farms are generating clean electricity, contributing to emission reductions and environmental protection,” he added.
As renewable energy deployment expands, it is creating new jobs in the manufacturing, installation, and maintenance of renewable energy systems, he said.
“This growth in renewable energy employment is also helping to address Nigeria’s high unemployment rate, particularly among youth and women,” Tajudeen added.
He however said access to finance remains a challenge for many renewable energy projects, and that the grid integration infrastructure needs to be strengthened.
According to NERC, out of the total energy generated within the second quarter of 2023, off-take by the 11 distribution companies was 7,100.87GWh while the total energy billed was 5,789.21GWh.
The country’s power sector was privatised in 2013, with investors taking over the successor distribution and generation companies carved out from the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria, while the Transmission Company of Nigeria was left in government’s hands.
President Bola Tinubu recently said the privatisation has failed to meet its objectives, including to improve the efficiency of the power sector, unlock private sector investments and unleash the potential of the nation through an energised economy.
“10 years on, I believe it is fair to say that the objectives of sector privatization have by and large, not been met. Over 90 million Nigerians lack access to electricity. The national grid only serves about 15 percent of the country’s demand,” he said while addressing industry stakeholders at an event in Abuja.
“This has left households and factories to rely on expensive self-generation, which supplies a staggering 40 percent of the country’s demand. What is worse is that the total amount of electricity that can be wheeled through the national grid has remained relatively flat in the last 10 years,” he added.
Victor Ogene, chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Renewable Energy, said renewable energy could help solve Nigeria’s electricity puzzle.
“The challenge of getting access to electricity in Nigeria has prompted the need for alternative energy sources, such as renewables,” he said. “With diverse renewable energy resources available in Nigeria, I believe that if the enabling technology is developed and funded, renewable energy has the potential to bridge the energy gap in Nigeria.”
Ogene said he has persistently pushed for a purpose-driven, intentional investment in renewable energy, by both government and private sector players, in order to actualise a meaningful impact in renewable energy in the nation. “In as much as we desire to have cleaner energy sources, we cannot wish away the huge financial implications of this transition to sustainable and renewable energy.”
According to him, renewable energy accounted for 16.4 percent of the total electricity capacity in Nigeria as at 2022.
“In my conversations with stakeholders in the renewable energy sector, the recurrent challenge has always been funding, without which not much would be achieved. What this simply implies is the need to have accessible financing plans and options that would be available to operators and potential investors in the sector,” he said.