To deliver an alternative energy system with solar energy and mini-grids, a cooperative system and a convoluted process must be adopted, according to Albert Okorogu, the director-general/CEO, Imo State Power and Rural Electrification Agency (I-POREA).
The foreign-trained expert, who has been invited twice in Nigeria to reposition the alternative energy sub-sector of the power industry, spoke in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, last week, at the Novotel Hotel where Nextier Power Dialogue Series took place.
The dialogue looked at leveraging funding options for off-grid development in the Niger Delta, anchored by Emeka Okpukpara of Nextier. The IPOREA boss insisted that the solution to Nigeria’s power problem lies in getting the rural areas powered because that is where he said between 70 and 90 percent of Nigerians dwell.
Individuals can come together to fund mini-grids and nano-grids, he said, saying, “Many people are tired without action. There is something everybody can do. Few persons can light up their village. Cooperative processes exist whereby some people can build ‘I-pass-my-neighbour’ mini-grids or inverters.”
For systems, Okorogu, who says he is not a politician but an energy expert of global relevance, said in financing renewable energy problems in Nigeria, there should be the use of what he called convoluted process.
He said the government must be involved with banks and off-grid or solar inverter developers to create the instruments of funding. “The banks do not seem to be tailored to helping businesses. Microfinance banks appear to be useless. They lend with the intention to take over your business because of the interest rate they charge. They seem to be aware that no business can pay it and remain viable. You have to rise up and develop yourself. I tell it to their face in Nigeria that the solution we seek is in the rural areas (states).”
On what I-POREA has achieved in so short a time, Okorogu said the Imo State secretariat has been lighted, and that the agency is exploring hidden renewable energy resources. He talked about the emergency electrification plan, saying his team planned to leverage on the abundance of compressed gas resources and use the ‘willing buyer/willing seller concept to get 24-hour power supply in the state.
On various funding available for alternative energy, he warned that attention must go to the rural areas but regretted that the funders concentrate on the urban areas. “Wise governments push into rural areas with electricity to push them out of deep poverty. We urge development agencies and entrepreneurs to endeavour to partner with state governments to change the energy story of Nigeria. At the moment, attention is only in urban areas.
On Imo focus, he said; “Solar is a huge asset in Nigeria and Africa. Even in the deep south (southernmost Nigeria), sunshine accounts for 4.7 kilowatts per meter square for up to 20 hours. Germany that is keen on the use of solar energy only has 2.4kw. We want to bring power to our people and spur investors.
“We plan to turn gas flares to useful energy and compressed gas to electricity. Imo State is broke in terms of money so we intend to bring developers at no cost. The willing buyer/willing seller policy will help in this. They take your gas and give you 24-hour power supply.”