Nigeria develops energy database for rural electrification

Cyril Okonkwo, Abuja

F-L: Chairman Nigerian Economic Summit Group, Mr. Kyari Butar ; Chairman Senate Committee on Science and Technology, Professor Boroface Ajayi ; Minister of Science and Technology, Ogbonnaya Onu;Ag. President Yemi Osinbajo during the Inaugural Event of Nigeria Renewable Energy Roundtable at the State House Banquet in Abuja on Tuesday ( 19/06/17)

Nigeria is developing an energy database that will show community locations and energy demand profiles.

This will save solar energy investor time and money that would have been spent on identifying communities that should be electrified.

Acting President Yemi Osinbajo stated this on Tuesday at the inaugural event of the Nigerian Renewable Energy Roundtable, which took place at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

“The Nigerian government through the Rural Electrification Agency is developing an energy database that will show community locations and energy demand profiles, which in turn saves Solar Home System/Solar Mini grid providers time and money because we have already identified the communities beforehand,” Professor Osinbajo said.

Increasing energy access
According to him, government is convinced that renewable energy probably offers Nigeria the most sustainable means of increasing energy access to those who have no electricity and have no immediate hope of being connected to the National grid.

“Consequently by a series of policy initiatives including our Vision 30 30 30, generation of 30GW of electricity by 2030, 30% of which is to be renewable energy, the Sustainable Energy for All ( SE4ALL) Action Agenda, and the National Renewable Energy Action Plan, we seek to encourage and incentivise  private sector investments in on-grid and off-grid renewable energy solutions,” Professor Osinbajo said.

He explained that “some of these investments include the signing of Power Purchase Agreements with fourteen Solar PV developers, one of which plans to develop a total capacity of 1,125 Megawatts of solar energy to be transmitted to the National grid.”

He said the Board of the Rural Electrification Agency, constituted six weeks ago, would in addition to working on the completion of its ongoing grid extension projects, focus on using renewable technology as a means of fulfilling its mandate.

Land mark projects
The Acting President stated the Rural Electrification Agency was embarking on some landmark projects and initiatives in the renewable space, which include, but are not limited to the captive off-grid ‘Energising Education’ programme.

This seeks to provide uninterrupted power supply to federal universities, and projects which support the development of small hydro, solar mini grids, solar home systems, wind farms, notably the 10MW Katsina Wind Farm.

Mini grid regulations
The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, has published  the mini grid regulations which ensure that power generated for a community below 100 kilo Watt only requires registering with NERC, while projects between 100 kilo Watt-1 Mega Watt will require a permit.

Professor Osinbajo said government was developing an online portal for the solar mini grid application process and would continue to implement critical elements of policy that would promote private sector investments in renewable energy.

“This include the Power Production Tax Credits(PTC) to electricity generation companies, which is aimed at incentivising the adoption of renewable energy; the Feed-in tariffs (FIT), which typically incentivise electricity producers by offering more favourable pricing for electricity produced through renewable and the Public Benefits Fund (PBF), which requires that a certain percentage of the tariff is dedicated to supporting renewable energy generation projects on and off the grid.

“It will also include the provision of capital grants, tax holidays and exemptions and other incentives for renewable energy projects, and the introduction, in March, of a Green Bond to Nigeria’s menu of capital market options for mobilisation of resources.

 “The uniqueness of the Green Bond is that its proceeds will be applied to climate and environment friendly or green projects,” the acting President stated.

He said there was need to create the framework for real-world business cases by developing standardised (and certified) technology packages, standardised contracts and a toolkit for energy cooperatives with technical, institutional, financing and legal elements.

He said: “We also need to explore the opportunities for revolving funds for solar PV/wind projects as well as opportunities for other investment remuneration mechanisms. It is also very important that we break the deadlock of electricity market structures by exploring the options to transform the competition for markets approach, continue to embark on a broader restructuring of the electricity sector and strive to achieve a more systematic development of the power market design, especially for renewable energy.”

The acting president stressed that there was need for a framework that brings and keeps all stakeholders together towards ensuring that renewable energy becomes an engine of growth for Nigeria’s economy to accomplish these objectives.

Solar power
Acting President Osinbajo said 20,000 homes would be powered with solar energy in this first phase of a pay-as-you-go system to provide access to lighting and electric power for small devices, a project which started at Wuna Village, Gwagwalada, Abuja, earlier in the year.

“The plan is to expand the Solar Home System program to 1 million households, creating a few more million jobs,” he added.

Also the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu said it was important for Nigeria to pay attention to the development of renewable energy, to prepare for the post crude oil era.

He said renewable energy does not only have the capacity to meet Nigeria’s need for fuel in the forms of bio-fuels and electricity, but also mitigates global warming and climate change.

He stated that the focus on renewable energy would enable Nigeria pay attention to the rural areas by supplying energy to every home to accelerate development.

A technical presentation on global trends in Energy Mix and Transition was made by the Research Coordinator for Energy and Climate Policy, Oeko Institute, Dr. Felix Matthes.

Others who spoke at the event were the Chairman of the Nigeria Economic Summit Group, Mr. Bukar Kyari, while goodwill messages came from the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Louis Edozie.

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Science and Technology, Robert Boroffice and the Chairperson of the House Committee on Science and Technology, Beni Lar, also delivered goodwill messages.

Mercy Chukwudiebere