Like crude oil, Nigeria has abundant renewable energy potential. Renewable energy is derived from natural sources that are replenished at a higher rate than they are consumed.
Major sources of renewable energy are solar, hydro, wind, biomass and geothermal.
Nigeria’s power sector is facing crisis with a large percentage of the population lacking access to electricity while those who have experience epileptic supply.
Experts say given the challenges in the nation’s power industry, renewable energy has the potential to help in solving the nation’s power deficiency.
They say there is abundant renewable energy which can be harvested to bridge the gap in our energy demand and supply.
The nation’s location in the tropics gives it all year round solar radiation and its long coastline provides potential for wind power generation.
In recent years, the Federal Government has taken steps to increase the share of renewable energy in the country’s energy mix.
In view of the degree of power crisis the Nigerian government has embarked on various steps to promote the use of renewable energy, targeting to generate 30 per cent of electricity from renewable sources by 2030.
In addition the Federal Government through its policies implemented and encouraged the development of renewable energy projects which include tax incentives and feed-in tariffs.
The Nigerian government has launched several initiatives to encourage the development of solar energy, including the establishment of a solar power plant in Katsina State, which has a capacity of 10 megawatts.
Similarly, the Federal Government in a bid to improve the nation’s power sector recently launched a project by the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) which aims to provide solar-powered electricity to five million Nigerians.
Energy experts say that Nigeria has a significant wind energy potential, particularly in the northern part of the country.
However, wind power development in the country is still at an early stage, with only a few small-scale wind projects in operation.
The Nigerian government is working to encourage the development of wind energy by providing incentives for investors.
Some schools of thought, however, say more is needed to be done to fully harness Nigeria’s renewable energy potential and meet the country’s energy needs.
Experts said one major challenge facing the adoption of renewable energy in Nigeria is the high cost of installation and maintenance.
With an average of 5.5 hours of sunshine per day throughout the country experts say solar energy is one of the most abundant renewable energy sources in Nigeria,
Experts added that long-term benefits of renewable energy, such as reduced dependence on fossil fuels and lower carbon emissions, make it a worthwhile investment.
Sterling Bank Plc and Stears Data in a joint report on Nigeria’s electricity crisis, advocated the adoption of renewable energy as a viable solution to complement domestic and commercial supply.
The report advocated the adoption of renewable energy as a viable solution to complement domestic and commercial supply.
It report showed that in spite of the privatisation of Nigeria’s electricity sector the country still has one of the lowest electrification coverage rates in the world.
The report said 43 per cent of Nigeria’s population has no access to grid electricity, an indication “that 85 million Nigerians are not connected to – and cannot receive electricity from – the Nigerian transmission grid.”
The federal government acknowledges the huge volume of renewable energy sources and promises to provide the enabling environment for their continued exploration and utilisation.
The Minister of Power, Abubakar Aliyu, said the country’s renewable energy and energy efficiency sector has continued to grow rapidly, heightening the need for a skilled workforce to support the sector.
Aliyu spoke at “Energise- First Career Fair for the Clean Energy Sector” held in Lagos in 2022.
According to him, with the push for cleaner sources of energy, renewable energy is one of the fastest-growing, high-technology sectors in the global economy.
He said the growth of the renewable energy sector had heightened the need for a skilled workforce that would help support the strengthening of power and energy access initiatives of the government, sector actors and partners.
The minister noted that renewable energy was one of the ways the government was providing electricity to Nigerians in the rural areas not connected to the national grid.
He said the government had been developing solar mini-grids and remained committed to achieving a carbon net-zero by 2060.
Also speaking at the event, Mr Duke Benjamin, Head of Programme, NESP, said the renewable energy sector was growing in the country and needed about 30,000 young Nigerians to fill the gap in the sector.
He spoke through Mr Olumide Fatoki, Head of Unit Sustainable Energy Access in NESP.
Benjamin commended the efforts of the funding and implementation partners of the career fair, adding that it was the first step towards establishing a skill-matching collaboration platform for the clean energy sector.
A Deputy Director at Energy Commission of Nigeria and a member of the REEEA-A Steering Committee, Aminu Isa, at the event highlighted the importance of collaborations as a key driver of the expected growth in the energy sector.
“As an Alliance of associations within the Renewable Energy (RE) and Energy Efficiency (EE) sector, we are very much interested in this synergy.
“This is aimed at improving the quality and standards of RE and EE technologies while also strengthening capacity in terms of knowledge generation and skills distribution,” he said.
Renewable energy also has the potential unlock the potential in rural areas, according to Mr Salihijo Ahmad, Managing Director, Rural Electrification Agency (REA).
He spoke at an investors’ matchmaking event for the Solar Power Naija Programme organised in partnership with the Power Africa Nigeria Power Sector Programme (PA-NPSP, USAID)
According to him, the Solar Power Naija Programme was meant to be part of the Economic Sustainability Plan to achieve the roll out of five million new solar connections in off grid communities.
The programme, he said, was expected to generate an additional seven billion naira increase in tax revenues per annum and $10 million in annual import substitution.
He said it would contribute to increasing local content in the off grid solar value chain and facilitate the growth of the local manufacturing as well as create 250,000 new jobs in the energy sector.
Developing the Nigeria’s renewable energy to contribute more to national economic growth requires enormous resources which neither government nor the private sector can afford alone.
The two sectors pooling their resources remain the best option to achieve that target.
By Gregory Mmaduakolam, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)