ANALYSIS: Nigeria's solar wealth can fix costly electricity problem (2023)

Experts say solar-based generating units can be built up far quicker than traditional power plants and has proven capability to plug the gaps in Nigeria’s energy requirements

byYusuf Akinpelu

June 21, 2021

Reading Time: 6 mins read

Exorbitant electricity bills never stop coming, yet lengthy power cuts dog 58-year-old Olanrewaju Jaji’s shop where she sells soft drinks in Ikorodu, a border town north of Nigeria’s economic nerve centre, Lagos.

She had bought different sizes of generators, but they hardly lasted. She had almost given up until a flicker of hope came to her doorstep: a low budget solar-powered appliance advertised to her by a local merchant.

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A one-off payment for the appliance would cost her N52,000, she was told, but payment in instalment would be higher. Even at that, the appliances are only available for distribution in Lagos.

Although the installation cannot power any of her three freezers, the fact that she can light up her shop at night, power her fan and radio – her major source of news – gave her some respite.

Take irregular power supply away from business owners like Mrs Jaji, then 80 per cent of Nigerian businesses would have solved their second biggest challenge after lack of access to finance.

If the same is done to individuals, then around 55 per cent of Nigerians, per a government report, who have no access to grid-connected electricity, would also have a major burden taken off.

Nigeria’s power generation capacity, which consists of gas-fired and hydro-powered stations, is about 13,000 Megawatts, but the electricity transmitted remains less than 4,000MW/hour.

This is unlike South Africa, a country with less than a third of Nigeria’s population, which has an installed electricity capacity that is four times more than Nigeria’s, according to the U.S. Power Africa programme.

Again, South Africa’s per capita energy consumption is 31 times higher than Nigeria’s, even though the southern African nation is Africa’s second-largest economy.

ANALYSIS: Nigeria's solar wealth can fix costly electricity problem (1)

Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, loses an estimated $29 billion a year due to this, which is about six per cent of the GDP, according to the International Monetary Fund.

The government report stated that to keep pace with its fellow economic giants like South Africa, Nigeria would need to see a five times increase in electricity consumption.

In search of an alternative, households and businesses have resorted to fossil-fueled generators that gulp about $14 billion annually and pose environmental and health risks.

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Solar as an alternative

Nigeria’s location in the tropics offers the country an abundance of sunshine all year round.

Therefore, as Africa’s largest economy and with over 2,600 hours of sunlight per year (about 7 hours of sunlight daily, on average), experts believe Nigeria has the economic war chest and environmental conditions to tap into renewable energy power sources like solar.

ANALYSIS: Nigeria's solar wealth can fix costly electricity problem (3)

According to a research published by Ikponmwosa Oghogho, a lecturer at Delta State University, with this potential, about 1500PJ (the equivalent of 258 barrels of oil) could be available to Nigeria annually from solar energy.

This can be achieved just by using solar appliances with five per cent conversion efficiency over only one per cent of the total land area of the country for about six months of a year.

This shows that more power generation abounds if the solar value chain was explored on a larger scale.

“Due to the numerous disadvantages of conventional fuel sources when compared with solar energy and the recent giant strides in improving solar cell efficiency using a photovoltaic (PV) device that converts 40.8 per cent of light that hits it into electricity,” Mr Oghogho wrote, “Nigeria needs to reposition herself by investing in this invaluable resource to secure the energy future of our economy.”

Estimates by the World Bank suggest that investing in solar-powered plants could increase the availability of electricity to almost 80 million people who currently have none.

This means a transition to solar-based energy could help diversify Nigeria’s energy portfolio and reduce high electricity bills, as was the case for Mrs Jaji. Such transition could also stop the reliance on fossil fuels which come with attendant challenges like pollution through flaring and spillage.

Like Mrs Jaji’s experience, solar-powered appliances could also be a good alternative to generating sets without cost and health risks that come with the latter.

Although solar appliances are relatively more expensive than generating sets, the cost pales when compared with the cost of powering, servicing, fueling and maintaining generating sets.

Meanwhile, solar power generation is becoming cheaper than fossil fuel alternatives, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency, an intergovernmental organisation that supports countries’ transition towards sustainable energy.

Solar-based generating units can be built up far quicker than traditional power plants and it has proven capability to plug the gaps in Nigeria’s energy requirements, the CEO of Diadem Global, a power-solution technology startup, Oyeniyi Uthman, said.

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The fact that the solar units can be built in chunks, used with inverter and battery and upgraded to higher capacity as time goes on make them a desirable alternative to generating sets that emit harmful greenhouse gases and other air pollutants into the environment, he added.

Some use the inverter alone, he said, with the option of incorporating solar panels later.

An Abuja-based businesswoman, Haulat Yusuf, uses the inverter alone and said it has been effective for her family and “when there is power cut for days, you don’t know.”

The downside, however, is that, because the high capacity batteries have to be charged for a long time, it consumes more electricity.

“This increases the amount of electricity units we now buy. But it has been very helpful,” Mrs Yusuf said.

ANALYSIS: Nigeria's solar wealth can fix costly electricity problem (4)

“Consumers are getting to know more about solar energy and because it offers them financial savings and power efficiency,” Mr Oyeniyi noted.

“Even when they (consumers) say the cost of installation is much, they come back for more and make more referrals to us.

“Prices of installation are falling as a result of manufacturing costs and market competition,” he said.

On the average, powering a three-bedroom household in Nigeria with solar energy costs about N1.8 million and it would come with a battery bank for energy storage and solar panels.

ANALYSIS: Nigeria's solar wealth can fix costly electricity problem (5)

The panels are installed on the roof to independently trap energy, while the solar battery storage systems help to store extra solar energy for later use, and they can be useful at nighttime and rainy days.

A list of invoices issued to this reporter by Diadem Global showed that prices vary with capacity and range from about N300,000 to N900,000.

ANALYSIS: Nigeria's solar wealth can fix costly electricity problem (6)

When Mrs Jaji has more money, she is hoping to upgrade her solar appliances and go for the options that can power her freezers.

Many like her should too as she has been telling her circle of friends about solar energy.

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But with a population frustrated by years of unmet power demands, there is bound to be palpable fear among Nigerians as they may understandably nurse doubts about the unpopular solar alternative.

Mr Oyeniyi said the price of solar power will continue to crash with its popularity and patronage. Being a technology rather than a fuel, it will dominate the energy space, he said.

Shots at solar power

Some of Nigeria’s shots at major solar-based power projects have stalled, while others have failed or are yet to be completed.

In 2014, former President Goodluck Jonathan launched the Operation Light Up Rural Nigeria (OLRN) project designed to use renewable energy to power 109 rural communities in 16 states, but the project was abandoned after its pilot phase.

Upon his coming in 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari’s government renamed OLRN to Renewable Energy (Solar) Micro Utility (REMU), which was to install three solar mini-grid projects in six geopolitical zones of the country.

The first phase of the project was to provide a solar-powered off-grid plant in three rural communities in Abuja, one of which was flagged off in Durumi, targeted at 1,000 households.

However, an ICIR investigation found that the installation had packed up and was under lock, while the solar-powered street lights were broken.

By 2016, a collaborative project of the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) tagged Energising Education Programme (EEP) was launched to get 37 federal universities off the national grid by introducing clean energy (solar power) in the institutions.

For a start, in its first phase, the programme is targeting nine universities and one teaching hospital.

A fact check by TheCable Newspaper found that of the nine, only two solar power plants have been inaugurated, one of which – Federal University Ndufu-Alike Ikwo, Ebonyi — is functioning.

Again, last March, the federal government launched the $200 million Nigeria Electrification Project (NEP) to provide off-grid solar energy to over 500,000 people across 105,000 households in rural communities nationwide.

(Support for this report was provided by the Premium Times Centre for Investigative Journalism (PTCIJ) through its Natural Resource and Extractives Programme).

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ANALYSIS: Nigeria's solar wealth can fix costly electricity problem (7)

(Video) ANALYSIS: Why the Nigeria's Power Sector is Failing and How these Problems can be Solved

FAQs

How can we solve Nigeria electricity problem? ›

Solar and inverter installations is a solution to the problem of inconsistent electricity supply. It saves money compared to the cost of fuel for generator. It also reduces noise pollution caused by generators, though, solar installation might be very expensive if you want a quality service.

How can solar energy solve the energy problem? ›

The use of solar energy will be able to minimize the dependence of rural households on firewood and dung cakes which causes a lot of pollution and is harmful for the lungs. Use of Solar Energy will reduce the pressure on conventional sources of energy.

Is solar energy worth it in Nigeria? ›

The use of solar energy has garnered a positive and necessary impact on the socio-economic status of citizens in Nigeria. This is according to findings of a study conducted by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and Shell-funded impact investment company, All-On.

What problems are solar panels trying to solve? ›

As a renewable source of power, solar energy has an important role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating climate change, which is critical to protecting humans, wildlife, and ecosystems. Solar energy can also improve air quality and reduce water use from energy production.

How can we control the cost of electricity? ›

Ways To Effectively Reduce Electricity Bills This Summer
  1. Paint Your Roof White.
  2. Unplug the Devices That Are Not In Use.
  3. Inspect Devices that Consume More Energy.
  4. Use Appliances During Off-Peak Hours.
  5. Choose Your Air Conditioner Wisely.
  6. Machines that Consume More Electricity.

Why does Nigeria have electricity problems? ›

Recent power generation problems

This is due to gas pipeline vandals and supply chain issues. Also, there was a fire at Egbin power plant. Other issues include maintenance work. These collective shortcomings led to the low daily generation and supply of electricity (a decrease of about 13% in January 2022) to the grid.

How does solar energy help the economy? ›

Solar Creates Jobs

As more people become interested in installing solar panels, more energy employees are needed to meet demand. This sector requires jobs for manufacturing, installation and maintenance. By investing in solar, you're also investing in a new job market, bolstering your local economy.

Why solar is the best energy solution? ›

Top Reasons to ♥ Solar Energy
  • The source of solar energy—the sun—is nearly limitless and can be accessed anywhere on earth at one time or another. ...
  • Solar panel installation costs are way down. ...
  • New solar technologies are capturing more and more of the sun's rays. ...
  • Silicon solar cells can withstand the test of time.
13 Mar 2020

How does solar energy help a country? ›

Renewable sources of energy can help countries mitigate climate change, build resilience to volatile prices, and lower energy costs. This is especially critical now as spiking fossil fuel costs, triggered by the war in Ukraine, are debilitating poor energy importing countries.

Is solar energy cheaper than electricity? ›

Although solar energy requires an initial investment to purchase and set up, people find that solar energy is a lot less expensive than electric power in the long run due to the rising price of electricity.

Why do solar project fail in Nigeria? ›

Many solar energy projects in Africa fail because they lack proper planning and long-term government support, according to a study on solar power in Nigeria. The study, published last month in Renewable Energy, sought to find out why solar power is failing to deliver cheap energy to people in Nigeria.

How much does solar energy cost in Nigeria? ›

Installing solar in Nigerian can cost from ₦100,000 to ₦15,000,000 for a solar home system for homes and offices depending on the capacity you want to install in your home or office space.

What are the two main problems with using solar energy? ›

Solar Energy: An Overview

The cons are that it only produces energy when the sun is shining, needs a significant amount of land, and that certain solar technologies require rare materials.

What is the biggest problem with solar energy? ›

In general, the disadvantages of solar energy include high cost, low efficiency, space needed for installing solar panels, the unreliability of sun exposure, and high pollution from manufacturing solar panels. Concentrated solar power plants are massively expensive to install with very low return on investment.

What are two major issues with solar energy? ›

Disadvantages of Solar Energy
  • Cost. The initial cost of purchasing a solar system is fairly high. ...
  • Weather-Dependent. Although solar energy can still be collected during cloudy and rainy days, the efficiency of the solar system drops. ...
  • Solar Energy Storage Is Expensive. ...
  • Uses a Lot of Space. ...
  • Associated with Pollution.
7 Oct 2022

How can we reduce high costs? ›

7 tips for reducing expenses in your business
  1. Make a plan. You need to evaluate where your business is now and where you want to take it in the future. ...
  2. Track expenses diligently. ...
  3. Benchmark against your industry. ...
  4. Manage variable costs. ...
  5. Get tough on fixed costs. ...
  6. Invest in technology. ...
  7. Offer incentives to staff.

How can we improve the problem of electricity? ›

10 ways to improve Electricity Efficiency
  1. Install Timers - ...
  2. Rewire Circuits - ...
  3. Insulate your homes – ...
  4. Switch to LEDs from CFLs – ...
  5. Appliances - ...
  6. Energy Efficient Appliances – ...
  7. Managing the coolers and heaters - ...
  8. Conduct a Thermography Inspection –
27 Jun 2019

What 3 things can you do to control costs? ›

5 cost control methods
  • Planning the budget properly. One method of cost control that most businesses use when starting a new project is budget management. ...
  • Monitoring all expenses using checkpoints. ...
  • Using change control systems. ...
  • Having time management. ...
  • Tracking earned value.
13 Apr 2021

What is the major reason for poor power supply in Nigeria? ›

The power minister cites low hydro capacity during the dry season and maintenance work at gas plants. 7. The Minister of Power, Abubakar Aliyu, has explained the reasons behind the recent poor power supply, citing hydro capacity during dry season and maintenance work at gas plants.

What are the four causes of energy crisis in Nigeria? ›

The energy crisis in Nigeria is as a result of poor funding of the power sector, non-settlement of electricity bills, corruption, and shutting down of major power plants due to infrastructural decay and non- performance.

Who controls the electricity in Nigeria? ›

The government unbundled PHCN into eleven electricity distribution companies (DisCos), six generating companies (GenCos), and a transmission company (TCN). The Act also created the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) as an independent regulator for the sector.

How does solar energy reduce electricity bills? ›

-A solar array can also reduce the peak demand measured by your electricity provider, especially when combined with a battery system. This lowers demand charges on your power bill. Solar panels generate electricity all year long, and the best brands have a service life of 25 years or more.

What are the 2 biggest advantages of using solar energy? ›

The Advantages of Solar Energy
  • #1. Solar energy reduces your monthly power bill.
  • #2. Solar energy provides lucrative tax incentives.
  • #3. Solar energy can be paired with solar battery storage.
  • #4. Solar energy is environmentally-friendly.
  • #5. Initial costs can be high.
  • #6. The permitting process can be time consuming.
  • #7. ...
  • #8.
23 Sept 2021

What are 3 positives about solar energy? ›

Pros of Solar Energy
  • Solar is a proven technology. ...
  • Solar works in many climates. ...
  • Solar is more affordable than ever. ...
  • Solar energy benefits the whole electricity grid. ...
  • Solar panels have a long lifespan. ...
  • Solar panels can increase home values.

Why solar energy is the future? ›

Photovoltaics (PV) and concentrating solar power are likely to continue to grow rapidly—the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) projects solar energy could provide 45% of the electricity in the United States by 2050 if the energy system is fully decarbonized—and technology costs are projected to continue to ...

How can solar panels reduce energy costs in developing countries? ›

After the initial cost, solar panels will generate energy at no additional cost, saving money for these third world countries. Many villages in developing countries get their energy from environmentally harmful sources, which is because they do not have access to clean and renewable energy sources.

Which country are best known for solar energy use? ›

1. China. This PV capacity is enough for China to keep its market leader position with the Chinese market representing 33% of total global installations.

Why is solar electricity so expensive? ›

Producing it requires advanced manufacturing as well as expensive raw materials, such as high-grade silicon for solar panels and lithium for solar batteries.

Which is best solar or electricity? ›

Clearly, solar power is more cost-effective than “regular” or standard electricity. According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), installing new solar panels is cheaper than a comparable investment in coal, natural gas or other fossil fuel options.

What is the cheapest source of electricity? ›

According to the IEA's World Energy Outlook and other research projects, solar and wind energy have continued to occupy the top spots in terms of the cheapest renewable energy sources. Both energy sources cost significantly less than fossil fuel alternatives and continue to become more affordable every year.

What are the three challenges to solar energy? ›

Wind and Solar Electricity: Challenges and Opportunities examines three primary obstacles to deployment of wind and solar power: cost, variability of generation, and lack of transmission.

What are the challenges of renewable energy in Nigeria? ›

The proliferation of inexperienced and unqualified solar installers as well as substandard inputs and components are among the challenges limiting the growth of renewable energy in Nigeria.

What are the factors that affect the development of solar energy in Nigeria? ›

Financial barriers: Economic status, initial capital and availability of incentive such as subsidies are factors that determine the adoption of solar energy initiatives in Nigeria. Two categories emerged as part of the analysis. They are financing of solar energy projects and low economic utilisation.

How much does electricity cost in Nigeria? ›

As of March 2022, the price of electricity used in households in Nigeria amounted to around 23 Nigerian naira per kilowatt hour, some 0.05 U.S. dollars.

How much does 1 kWh of electricity cost in Nigeria? ›

For comparison, the average price of electricity in the world for that period is 0.143 U.S. Dollar per kWh for households and 0.138 U.S. Dollar for businesses.
...
Nigeria electricity prices.
Nigeria electricity pricesHousehold, kWhBusiness, kWh
Nigerian Naira22.55036.150
U.S. Dollar0.0510.082

How much is a big solar panel in Nigeria? ›

150Watt solar panel prices – 30,000 Naira to 35,000 Naira. 200Watt solar panel prices – 34,000 Naira to 45,000 Naira. 300Watt solar panel prices – 50,000 Naira to 60,000 Naira. 320Watt solar panel prices – 60,000 Naira to 66,000 Naira.

What is the main problem for solar system? ›

Hot spots occur when a panel's energy production pathways are disrupted. When the panel's energy cannot flow through to your inverter, it becomes overloaded and radiate excess heat, so they get 'hot'. It is one of the most common problems with solar panels world-wide.

What are the challenges faced by solar energy industry today? ›

One of the significant challenges that the solar industry faces is that solar panels can convert a tiny percentage of sunlight into energy. The reliability of the solar panels is also an issue, especially in those geographical areas where sunlight is not available in abundance.

What are the negative impacts of solar energy? ›

The potential environmental impacts associated with solar power—land use and habitat loss, water use, and the use of hazardous materials in manufacturing—can vary greatly depending on the technology, which includes two broad categories: photovoltaic (PV) solar cells or concentrating solar thermal plants (CSP).

How can we solve the problem of electricity in villages? ›

Rural electrification through renewables
  1. Faster implementation which can create local employment and boost local economy by providing access to electricity in reliable way.
  2. Utilisation of locally available resources bringing in energy security and energy independence.
  3. Pollution free and sustainable.
  4. Reduce T & D losses.
1 Apr 2015

What is the main problem of electricity? ›

Electrical surges

It usually occurs due to poor electrical wiring in the house, faulty appliances, damaged power lines, or when lightning strikes. Electrical surges are common electrical problems, and they last for a split of a second.

How can we minimize the problem of power shortage? ›

Reduce Energy Consumption

You can reduce your energy consumption in your home or workplace by doing the following: Switch off any tools/equipment/appliances that aren't in use. Turn them off at the wall or unplug them to make sure no extra energy is spent on idle appliances.

What are two ways to reduce electricity use? ›

Properly insulate and air seal your home. Select an energy-efficient heating system that doesn't use electricity. Electric water heating -- Purchase an Energy Star heat pump water heater and operate it efficiently. Reduce your “always-on” appliances.

What are 3 ways that we can save electricity and energy? ›

Top 10 ways to save energy and money
  • Adjust your day-to-day behaviors. ...
  • Replace your light bulbs. ...
  • Plug into power strips. ...
  • Install a smart thermostat. ...
  • Use energy efficient appliances. ...
  • Reduce water heating expenses. ...
  • Install energy efficient windows. ...
  • Upgrade to an energy-efficient heat pump.
1 Jan 2022

What are 6 ways to save electricity? ›

  1. Switch off appliances at the wall and pull out chargers. This could save you up to 6% of your electricity bill. ...
  2. Bring food to a boil then place hot pot in an insulation cooker. ...
  3. 60°C. ...
  4. Pool. ...
  5. Set your pool pump to run fewer hours. ...
  6. Use gas for cooking. ...
  7. Insulate your ceiling. ...
  8. Light a fire instead of using electric heating.

What are 10 ways to save electricity? ›

17 Energy Saving Tips for the Home
  1. Watch out for energy-draining appliances. ...
  2. Smart power strips help to manage usage the smart way. ...
  3. Use large appliances together to reduce energy use. ...
  4. Cold wash when you can - its just as good! ...
  5. Dry your clothes and dishes naturally. ...
  6. Upgrade when the time comes for energy efficiency.
9 Sept 2021

Which is the best and cleanest way to reduce electricity? ›

Turn off lights, fans, home appliances and other electronic devices runs on electricity when not in use. This also includes switching off the TV, washing machines, etc completely by turning off the switch and not keeping them on standby mode by just switching off from the remote control.

What are 7 ways to reduce consumption of energy? ›

7 ways to save energy at home
  • Unplug appliances when not in use. ...
  • Install LED lights. ...
  • Make sure your appliances are energy efficient. ...
  • Seal up any gaps. ...
  • Turn down your thermostat. ...
  • Insulate your home better. ...
  • Reduce water consumption.

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