Nigeria has launched a $75m fund to provide electricity to its citizens, with solar panel manufacturer Lumos planning to use the money to electrify one million households over the next five years. We consider the impacts of this ambitious proposal.
Nigeria is one of Africa’s dominant countries, with the highest population and greatest GDP on the continent, according to the International Monetary Fund. Boasting the world’s 31st-largest economy as of 2018, and over 2,600 hours of sunlight per year, Nigeria has the economic strength and environmental conditions to be a key player in renewable power sources such as solar.
There is also a pressing need for energy reform, with a 2015 government report noting that around 55% of the country’s 190 million inhabitants have no access to grid-connected electricity, and even those with nominal access to centralised power are often affected by power cuts and outages. While Nigeria ought to have the economic muscle to overcome these issues, its energy sector is plagued by inefficiencies and malfunctions; the same government report found that the country has 12,522MW of installed capacity for power generation, but that only 3,879MW of this was actually in operation.
The figures are no more encouraging compared to other countries. South Africa, the second-largest economy in Africa, has a per capita energy consumption 31 times greater than Nigeria’s, whose consumption was in the bottom 25 of the world in 2013. The government report concluded that the country would need to see an increase in electricity consumption of up to five times in order to keep pace with countries with similar GDP figures, such as South Africa.
With this in mind, the government has redoubled its efforts to improve its solar infrastructure. The state has launched a $75m grant to encourage off-grid solar projects, which will take advantage of the country’s abundant sunlight, and sidestep the leaky grid infrastructure that has hindered energy consumption for so long.
Small-scale power and localised benefits
Lumos is one of the country’s leading solar firms; based out of the Netherlands, the firm sells self-contained solar facilities which enable people to install a solar panel on their roof and pay a daily fee for the electricity it generates. The company has already fitted more than 100,000 of its systems in homes around Nigeria, and plans to increase its reach by ten times as part of the government funding.
“This new funding provides the country with a huge opportunity to leapfrog dependence on fossil fuels and move to renewable energies,” said Lumos CEO Alastair Gordon, highlighting the potential for development in Nigeria. “The Rural Electrification Agency (REA) often works with the World Bank to deliver grants, similar to this one, to electrify rural and unserved communities.
“This year is exciting for Lumos because it’s the first time that the company will be signed to the Output Based Fund.”
Culled from power-technology.com