• Thursday, November 30, 2023
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Shell-funded solar factory targets Chinese imports

Shell-funded solar factory targets Chinese imports

Auxano solar, an off-grid energy firm funded by All On, an impact investor seeded by Shell, has commissioned on Thursday a 100-megawatts (MW) solar manufacturing plant in Lagos, with ambitions to cut imports of Chinese-made solar panels.

The plant, built with $2 million in financing, is a fully automated production factory that covers about 5,730 square metres of land in Ibeju, Lekki, five minutes from the Lekki Deep Seaport.

The facility incorporates production, warehouse and office space. It has over 141kwp of installed solar energy systems and is equipped with Asian-certified production equipment designed to produce premium PV models.

Read also: Fighting Nigeria’s climate change with solar energy solutions

Data published by Ember, a global energy think tank, showed that in the first half of 2023, exports of solar panels from China grew by 34 percent, with 114 gigawatts (GW) shipped worldwide, compared to 85 GW in the same period last year. This is equivalent to the total installed solar panel capacity of the United States (113 GW).

Auxano seeks to replace demand from Nigeria with local production. The company targets production of over 2,000 solar panels a day upon full operation and a 100MW capacity of solar panels per year.

Osagie Okubor, country chair of Shell Companies in Nigeria, said: “Auxano is a visual representation of what we at Shell hoped to achieve when we established All On in 2017.

“With the singular goal of helping energy-poor communities in Nigeria gain access to energy by unlocking potential off-grid clean energy solutions, All On has made strategic investments to achieve this and we are proud that our support for All On has culminated in the commissioning we are witnessing today.”

Chuks Umezulora, CEO and co-founder Auxano Solar, said: “Our focus is to penetrate the Nigerian market before moving towards exporting the Solar PV to neighbouring countries.

“Our target is both the formal – solar firms who are into mini-grids, commercial and industrial solar providers – and the informal sector – the importers of solar panels for resale.”

Umezulora said the major challenge to getting the factory up was accessing finance (especially the capital expenditure) to deliver the project at the forecasted time.

“This facility is one of many to come and we look forward to eradicating the numbers of people in the country without access to electricity by providing affordable solar systems,” he said.

The investment from All On is one of its biggest since it started financing clean energy projects.

Read also: Auxano commissions 100mw capacity solar PV plant

“The success of Auxano as the first privately-owned solar assembly factory is a triumph for the promotion of local manufacturing within the Nigerian renewable energy sector,” said Caroline Eboumbou, CEO of All On. “Our investment in this factory aligns with All On’s commitment to inspire other stakeholders, investors, and government to localize the solar supply chain, ultimately driving affordability and accessibility of solar products, especially in light of the growing interest in solar energy solutions among Nigerians.”

On his part, Salihijo Ahmad, managing director of Rural Electrification Agency, said; “Localising renewable energy (RE) equipment supply chains by developing local manufacturing capacity is one of the key strategies to ensure the security of supply of RE equipment for project deployment, while also fostering local economic growth and providing decent employment opportunities for Nigerians.

“I also commend All On and other stakeholders who supported the project directly with funding, technical assistance, licensing, and other relevant business facilitation services. These collaborations are very key and more of such are needed to address the twin problems energy poverty and the climate crisis pose.”

The project developer had to navigate supply chain crunches, foreign exchange challenges, business development issues, the ups and downs of being a manufacturer in a tough environment.