Nigeria’s Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo on Friday laid the foundation for the construction of the first solar cells production plant in Gora, Nassarawa State.
The 21-MW capacity plant is a project of the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure, NASENI, in collaboration with the China Great Wall Incorporated Corporation, CGWIC.
Located on 15.8 hectares of land, the NASENI Solar Cells Production Plant consists of four main production sections.
These are the polysilicon Section of 1000 tons per annum; Ingot Section of 50 MW per annum; Wafers Section of 50MW per annum and Solar Cells Section of 50MW per annum.
The project will cost a total of US$171, 970, 000 million, with 85% funding, equivalent of US$146, 174, 500 support from China-Africa Development Fund through the Bank of China and 15% local counterpart funding, equivalent to US $25, 795, 500 US dollars from Nigeria.
Prof. Osinbajo said the Solar Cells Production Plant puts Nigeria among countries pushing for alternative energy.
“This landmark achievement places Nigeria within the ranks of countries pushing the boundaries in the use of climate-smart alternative energy sources, particularly solar power,” he stated.
According to the vice president, NASENI has championed the call for solar power as an alternative to fossil fuel for over ten years.
“NASENI has been consistent in championing solar power as an alternative to hydro and fossil power sourcing.
“And it was to this end that the agency established NASENI Solar Energy Limited (NSEL) in Karshi, Federal Capital Territory, with a mandate to deliver alternative solar energy to homes and businesses in Nigeria.
“The development and maturity of the Naseni Solar Energy Ltd whose operations have been driven with the vim and zest of a tech start-up, forecasted an increase in local content of the solar energy production system in Nigeria, leading to ever-increasing production of solar cells.”
Pointing out that solar cells are critical to the entire solar energy value chain because they determine the sensitivity of solar panels to trap and accumulate solar energy, from the sun, Prof. Osinbajo said that the urgency of climate action and the importance of developing African green energy manufacturing and solutions makes NASENI’s solar cell production factory in Nigeria a game-changer.
“In Sub-Saharan Africa, $50 billion worth of diesel fuel is used each year, with diesel generators producing more energy than the entire energy grid in 17 countries in the region.
“The resultant emissions of carbon monoxide have since become a major and worrying source of pollution. In Nigeria, for example, generator emissions are equivalent to emissions from all of the country’s 11 million cars put together. This is clearly unsustainable and calls for a significant shift.”
Vice President Osinbajo said that Nigeria’s Energy Transition Plan, the first in Africa, which was approved by the Federal Executive Council last year, sets out the country’s pathway to decarbonisation by 2060 and achieving universal energy access by 2030.
“The Nigeria Energy Transition Plan projects an increase in the use of solar power in the Nigerian energy mix, surpassing even gas by 2035,” he said.
He said that the NASENI Solar Cells Production Plant could not have come at a more crucial time.
“Not only is the beneficiation model it has adopted innovative and consistent with the African Union’s energy transition plan in the face of global warming, its output, at full operational capacity, will further impact the solar energy value chain in Nigeria through the low production costs of solar panels.
“In due course, this will in turn attract new investment, local and foreign, for the establishment of solar panel manufacturing plants across Nigeria.
“The prudent decision to site the factory in Gora, Nasarawa State, leverages translational research into the biogeography, geological surveys, and mining cadastral reconnaissance, which have positioned Nasarawa as the home of solid minerals in Nigeria.
“The major raw material requirements for the production of Solar cells – silicon and silica – are naturally occuring in abundance in this area.”
Governor of Nasarawa State, Abdullahi Shehu said the project would contribute to human capital development in the state.
“This administration has placed so much emphasis on human capital development. This project is going to bring a lot of training; so our people, our unemployed are going to gain this knowledge,” Sule said.
In his address of welcome, the Executive Vice Chairman of the NASENI, Prof. Mohammed Haruna said that the agreement to establish the production plant was signed in July 2013 and was renewed in 2018 after surmounting various frustrating obstacles and bureaucratic bottlenecks that almost led to its termination.
In his goodwill message, the Representative of the China Great Wall Incorporated Corporation, CGWIC, in Nigeria, Hu Shinkai said the plant would generate a minimum of 19,800 jobs.
He said the plant would also result in the export of solar cells to other parts of Africa since no other solar plant exists on the continent at present.