• Tuesday, February 27, 2024
businessday logo


Energy transition in Nigeria: A path to sustainability


Climate change and local air pollution stand as pivotal drivers for global energy transition, impacting economies and ecosystems worldwide. While countries like China and India grapple with the pressing issue of local air pollution, Nigeria and other African nations also face challenges posed by environmental degradation, making the urgency of an energy transition imperative.

Nigeria’s Energy Landscape

In the context of Nigeria, where economic growth is intertwined with energy demands, addressing the dual challenge of climate change and local air pollution becomes crucial. The energy sector in Nigeria heavily relies on fossil fuels, contributing to both air pollution and carbon emissions. The nation’s journey towards sustainability involves untangling this web and embracing cleaner, more efficient energy alternatives.

The Global Context and Paris Climate Targets

Approximately two-thirds of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are attributed to fossil fuel energy supply and usage. The Paris Climate Agreement, with its ambitious target of limiting global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius and a more stringent goal of 1.5 degrees Celsius, necessitates a radical transformation in energy systems.

For Nigeria and other African economies, meeting these targets requires not only reducing emissions but also ensuring energy availability for economic growth. The challenge is daunting, demanding an 85% reduction in the carbon intensity of global economic activity between 2015 and 2050. This translates to a decline of over 70% in CO2 emissions compared to the Reference Case.

Read also: Nigeria’s Energy Transition Plan and the Oil & Gas Sector

The Role of Renewable Energy and Efficiency Measures

The REmap Case, an analysis by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), outlines a roadmap for achieving these reductions. Key pillars include higher energy efficiency and a substantial increase in renewable energy adoption. In Nigeria’s context, where energy demand is rising, embracing these strategies is critical.

Renewable energy and energy efficiency measures emerge as the linchpins of the energy transition. The REmap Case indicates that these measures can potentially achieve 94% of the required emissions reductions by 2050 compared to the Reference Case. The remaining 6% involves options like fossil fuel switching, nuclear energy, and carbon capture and storage (CCS).

Nigeria’s Contribution to the Transition

In the REmap Case, the power sector is projected to contribute more than 10 Gt to the 25 Gt emissions reduction in 2050. The G20 countries, including Nigeria, play a pivotal role in this transition. As a part of this, the share of renewable energy in Nigeria’s total primary energy supply is expected to rise significantly, from 14% in 2015 to 63% in 2050.

The transition entails a shift from an 86% fossil fuel share to a 37% share, demonstrating a move towards a more sustainable energy mix. Importantly, this occurs while maintaining nearly constant energy use between 2015 and 2050, even as economic activity triples.

Read also: Gas must be the main driver of Nigeria’s energy transition – NGA

Challenges and Varying Prospects

Nigeria’s journey towards renewable energy and sustainability faces unique challenges. These include energy resource endowment, demand projections, current renewables share, and other factors. However, the imperative remains the same across economies: a substantial increase in the share of renewables.

The deployment of renewables, especially in the power sector, becomes crucial. The findings of IRENA’s REmap analysis align with other major studies, emphasizing the significance of energy efficiency and renewable energy in global energy transitions. Despite some divergence in opinions regarding the potential role of energy efficiency, the consensus is clear: renewables growth is a key pillar for the energy transition.

Cost, Benefits, and Economic Growth

While the transition involves substantial overall energy investments, the incremental investment needs are deemed affordable. The additional cumulative investments, focused on improving energy efficiency and transitioning to a low-carbon energy sector, amount to 0.4% of global GDP in 2050.

Crucially, the transition has broader economic implications. According to the analysis, the REmap Case could boost global GDP by around 1% in 2050 compared to the Reference Case. This economic growth is driven by higher investments in renewables and energy efficiency, supported by pro-growth policies and the use of carbon pricing.

Read also: The energy transition plan and Nigeria’s industrial sector

Job Creation and Social Impact

The global energy transition, as per the REmap Case, could lead to the creation of around 19 million additional direct and indirect jobs in 2050 in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and grid enhancement and flexibility sectors. Job losses in the fossil fuel sector would be offset by new jobs in renewables and energy efficiency, resulting in a net gain of 11.6 million additional jobs in the energy sector.

In Nigeria, where employment is a critical concern, embracing renewable energy offers the dual advantage of mitigating climate change and fostering economic growth through job creation.

Conclusion: A Sustainable Future for Nigeria

The path to a sustainable energy future for Nigeria involves a concerted effort towards renewable energy adoption, energy efficiency improvements, and aligning policies with global climate targets. As part of the global energy transition, Nigeria’s commitment to reducing emissions, embracing renewables, and fostering economic growth through sustainable practices will contribute not only to local environmental well-being but also to the broader global endeavour for a greener, more sustainable planet.

Bashiru sent this from Houston, Texas. She can be reached at [email protected]