• Tuesday, February 27, 2024
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REA powering thousands, shows off-grid energy potential

REA powering thousands, shows off-grid energy potential

The Rural Electrification Agency (REA) says it has deployed 103 mini-grids across Nigeria to power over 230,000 households under a World Bank-sponsored project, indicating the potential of renewable energy to improve access to electricity for Nigerians.

Through a Performance-Based Grant (PBG) subcomponent of the Nigeria Electrification Project (NEP), funded by the World Bank, the agency has recorded success in enhancing electricity access for households, micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs), as well as public facilities in rural and underserved regions of Nigeria.

Shortly after his inauguration, Adebayo Adelabu, minister of power, said he would consolidate on the gains made by his predecessor and “equally pay critical attention to the options of renewable and alternative energies.” This determination will be tested in how these programmes are sustained.

According to a report by the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Association – Alliance, Nigeria would need to invest $34.5 billion to provide electricity access by 2030. Nigeria would need to invest $4.93 billion annually in the next seven years to meet the target of delivering 20,000 megawatts (MW) to over 200 million population.

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Experts say renewable energy can play a role and the REA, a government agency charged with improving energy access in rural areas that has unlocked partnerships with multilateral agencies and the private sector players can play a critical role.

Speaking during the 10th Mini-Grid Roundtable discussion, Ahmed Salihijo, managing director/chief executive of REA, expressed the agency’s dedication to bridging the energy access gap in Nigeria.

“The REA was established with the mandate to increase access to electricity by bridging the energy access deficit in Nigeria. Since its inception, we have made significant progress in achieving this goal. The agency is implementing various electrification programmes – like the Nigeria Electrification Project (NEP) – targeted at creating lasting impacts by fostering economic growth, improving education, and enhancing the overall quality of life of Nigerians,” he said.

Highlighting the key strategy, he added: “One of the key strategies that we are using to achieve this goal is the Performance Based Grant (PBG) sub-component. The PBG is a financing mechanism that provides grants to qualified developers to construct and operate mini-grids in rural communities. So far, the PBG has been very successful in attracting private sector investments in mini-grids. Through the NEP, over 80 mini-grids have been completed and commissioned, connecting about 32,000 households, MSMEs, and public facilities, and providing clean and reliable electricity.”

The Solar Hybrid Mini-grid component saw a total of 46,661 verified connections made to households, MSMEs, and public facilities. Salihijo said: “Each connection is a step towards bridging the energy gap and fostering economic development.” An additional 281,578 connections are in progress, poised to further expand the project’s impact and reach.

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Abba Aliyu, head of the REA Project Management Unit of the NEP, said: “We are thrilled to announce that we have successfully completed and commissioned 103 mini-grids as part of the NEP initiative. This achievement underscores our commitment to providing reliable and sustainable energy solutions to communities that have long been underserved.”

He emphasised the transformative nature of the projects, stating: “Our goal has always been to empower communities with the power of electricity. These 103 mini-grids represent brighter futures, improved livelihoods, and opportunities for growth.”

The initiative has already positively impacted over 230,000 people across Nigeria, leading to positive changes in their daily routines, economic activities, and overall quality of life. The installation of 5.8MW of photovoltaic capacity underscores REA’s commitment to harnessing renewable energy sources for sustainable power solutions.