With an unmet energy demand of about 20,000 megawatts (MW), a global research firm, Agusto & Co, has charged the Nigerian government to use policies and incentives to drive innovation in renewable energy technologies in order to diversify its energy sources.
The firm notes that while grid-connected electricity supply remains the cheapest source of power in Nigeria, it is not always economically efficient to construct gas pipelines and/or transmission cables to some remote villages with very little demand for electricity.
Nigeria’s current energy mix is heavily skewed towards gas, with 23 thermal plants contributing 76 per cent of the total installed generating capacity. However, years of underinvestment in the domestic gas market as a result of price controls, regulatory obstacles and pipeline vandalism have put question marks on the commercial viability of gas supply to the power sector.
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), renewables will account for about 95 per cent of the increase in worldwide power capacity by 2026, with solar photovoltaics (PV) alone accounting for more than half of the anticipated expansion.
The world’s capacity to generate electricity from solar panels, wind turbines, and other renewables will grow significantly in the next few years. In 2022, a projected $472 billion will be invested in renewable energy, 44 per cent more than in 2017, when $326 billion was spent.
However, the challenges confronting the Nigerian power sector are well documented, over-laboured and cut across the industry’s entire value chain with about 47 per cent of Nigerians lacking access to grid electricity and those who do have access face regular power outages.
Agusto & Co also warned that although Nigeria has undertaken to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent between now and 2030 and to attain net-zero emissions by 2060, aspirations are rather lofty considering that the country is still grappling with inadequate electricity supply from the national grid as unmet demand is estimated at approximately 20,000 megawatts (MW).
Despite these challenges, Agusto pointed out that potential exists as abundant and diverse natural resources make it capable of producing significant amounts of clean and renewable energy (particularly solar energy) as the country is located within a high sunshine belt and has significant solar energy potential.
Agusto & Co also believes that there is a need to expand the current energy mix to include renewables.
According to the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET), “the average yearly daily sunshine in Africa’s largest economy is 6.25 hours. Nigeria’s Northern region enjoys average solar radiation of about 25.2MJ/m2 (megajoule/square metre) per day, with an average of 12.6MJ/m2 in coastal areas. Wind speeds ranging between 2.5m/s and 6.5m/s in the Northern region of Nigeria, owing to the large expanse of dry land, also present opportunities to generate wind power, while biomass remains a potential and untapped source of bio-energy given the amount of waste produced.
“Renewable energy plants can be constructed in remote areas as an alternative to running several kilometres of transmission cables, which are subject to vandalism. The poor and erratic power supply from the national grid also provides opportunities for small-scale renewable projects for individual households.”