Exorbitant electricity bills never stop coming, but regular electricity remains a mirage for many Nigerians, including 32-year-old Chioma’s food business in Berger, a central commercial hub in Nigeria’s commercial capital.
She had purchased various sizes of expensive generators, which were hazardous to her health due to the fumes and constant noise. She is concerned, however, that passing on increased costs to her customers will simply cause her to lose profit margin to her competitors.
“Sometimes there’s light from the city’s central electrical grid, but it’s low current and not enough to meet the power demands of my shop,” Onuh said.
Before a low-cost solar-powered appliance advertised to her by a nearby retailer arrived at her doorstep, she had all but given up.
She now has a steady supply of electricity, so she can stop worrying about blackouts. As a result, she has grown her company and hired more staff.
The situation is similar for Ibrahim Abubakar, a potato farmer in Barkin Ladi, Plateau State. His irrigation pumps were previously powered by diesel generators, but the cost of diesel was rising too quickly as a result of the war between Russia and Ukraine’s economic effects.
Then he learned about a brand-new initiative that used solar energy to run irrigation pumps. Though initially dubious, Bashir made the decision to give it a shot.
He has been using solar panels for the past two years and is pleased with the outcomes. He can irrigate his crops more effectively and has saved a lot of money on diesel.
The stories mentioned above are just a few instances of how Nigerians are using renewable solutions to address the country’s power issues. These solutions help to improve the environment while also giving people access to dependable, affordable power.
Hungry for reliable power
In Africa’s largest economy, generators in Lagos and other parts of the country are said to provide 50 percent of the energy. However, the World Bank reports that it is a major producer of carbon monoxide (79 percent), nitrogen gas (27 percent), and sulfur (22 percent).
The country’s reliance on generators is caused by its unstable power supply.
According to data from the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, the capacity of 26 power plants out of 29 decreased by 26 percent between January 2019 and December 2022, with three shutting down and producing no megawatts.
Nigerians are forced to generate power in small units from off-grid sources, typically fossil fuel-powered generators, to bridge the supply-demand gap.
In addition to the financial cost of generators, there are health and environmental costs. “The noise can be deafening,” said Tunde Adeniyi, a part-time student who runs his photography business with the help of a generator.
“Everybody hates them,” he added, “but everybody has one.”
In August 2022, the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency announced that air pollution was responsible for over 30,000 premature deaths in 2021. 75 percent of those victims were children, according to the statistic.
Renewables to the rescue
The Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) reports that the largest economy in Africa enjoys an average of 6.25 hours of sunshine per day each year.
This indicates that Nigeria has limitless opportunities to harness the energy of the sun, and that a quiet revolution is in progress.
Millions of people in rural communities and even in cities with insufficient grid power are experiencing a change in their quality of life as a result of the growth of solar as a renewable energy source and the numerous technological advancements to improve battery technology and photovoltaic capacity.
Read also: Nigeria, Norway sign $6m solar energy deal
For instance, because of a solar-powered borehole that was built by the renewable energy company HavenHill Synergy Limited through a mini-grid, residents of the Kigbe community in the Kwali Area Council of Abuja no longer have to fetch water from streams
that are one kilometer away.
“We call our place small London,” says Sule Bamaiye, the 56-year-old Kpandanki or second in command to the traditional ruler.
According to Bamaiye, Kigbe has evolved into a sort of truck stop because truck drivers who transport wood logs, the main industry in the communities, now stop by for cold drinks at Kigbe.
A 20-kW mini-grid and a 3-kilometer grid line distribution were built by Havenhill Synergy in the neighbourhood to supply power to about 145 homes there.
It is centered on five businesses, including business hubs and facilities for processing agricultural products. Sunlight collected by solar panels is distributed to the community after being stored in 115 kW of battery capacity.
The company donated a 20,000-liter solar-powered borehole to the community as part of its support initiative.
Green Village Electricity (Gve) Projects, Limited, in addition to HavenHill Synergy Limited, is another renewable energy company in Nigeria.
The company has constructed 13 mini-grids throughout Nigeria and now serves approximately 7000 households with a total solar energy capacity of 0.65 megawatts.
In terms of operations, GVE sells power to communities through a network of vendors who buy in bulk and resell to consumers.
The vendors act as GVE agents, facilitating payment access in remote areas.
Residential customers must pay a one-time connection fee. The installation of a prepaid meter and a load limiter to track consumption is included in this fee.
Subsequent payments are determined by the applicable tariffs and the type of consumer.
Discounted tariff for small to medium enterprises (SME) forms part of GVE’s strategic objective of stimulating the growth of rural businesses, improving productivity and boosting profitability.
“Our target in the medium-term is by 2023 to impact 3.6 million Nigerians,” Ifeanyi Orajaka, the founder and CEO of GvE said.
He added, “It is a very herculean task but currently we have been able to attract the right partnerships from both the investment and the financing and business development world to help us achieve that goal.
Coldhub is another company that offers unique solar energy solutions; the company began by providing smallholder farmers, retailers, and wholesalers with renewable energy storage, storage, and preservation facilities for fresh fruits, vegetables, and other perishable foods.
All On funding enabled the construction of two ColdHubs, while UKAID funding is assisting in the construction of seven new cold rooms.
Arnergy Limited is also on the list; the company began in the solar home systems space but has since expanded into mini-grids, commercial, and industrial markets.
It also has connections in the field of solar energy systems. Arnergy is now providing electricity to hospitals as part of its strategy to expand its commercial and industrial solar penetration.
So far, 20 hospitals have been connected, and the project is expected to provide power to 35,000 businesses over the next five years, with the healthcare sector accounting for 20percent of that total.
Lumos is another company that offers clean energy solutions. The company was founded to provide off-grid consumers with sustainable and affordable electricity. Lumos was founded by two partners, one with solar project development experience and the other with experience working with emerging market mobile operators.
The concept of pay-as-you-go home solar systems was inspired by two major trends: the explosion of mobile payments in Africa and the dramatic decrease in solar technology prices.
The Lumos founders believed that by selling directly to customers and using prepaid technology to make the service affordable, they could do for electricity access what mobile phones did for traditional landlines in Africa.
Smarter Grid International (SGI) is using distributed energy resources to provide renewable and affordable electricity to Sub-Saharan Africa’s energy-deprived population.
SGI finances and offers a variety of flexible payment options such as Pay-As-You-Go and Lease to Own, as well as payment platforms such as ‘Paga’ and ‘Angaza’. As a result, low-income earners and micro businesses with little or no purchasing power can now purchase solar products for productive use.