Solar energy breaks more grounds as the Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, Tuesday announced federal government’s plans to provide renewable power supply (solar power) for no fewer than one million households in rural communities that are not connected to the national grid.
Osinbajo who made this disclosure at the Nigerian Renewable Energy Roundtable organized by the Ministry of Science and Technology in collaboration with the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) at the Presidential Villa, said the plan would foster economic growth and would be implemented in phases.
According to him, the first phase will take off with supply in 20,000 homes with additional 20,000 households to guarantee target beneficiaries’ access to power supply and consequently create jobs.
He recalled how a rural setting, Wuna, in Gwagwalada Local Government of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), which he said was hitherto not connected to the national grid, secured access to power supply through renewable energy initiative championed by the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC).
He also disclosed that the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) was developing an energy database that would reflect community locations and energy demand profiles, which he said would in turn save time and money for solar home system/solar mini grid providers.
Describing the move as a step towards restructuring the power sector to pave the way for availability of renewable energy, Osinbajo also disclosed federal government’s move to alter the gridlock in the liquidity of the entire electricity value chain through the recent approval of N701 billion by the Federal Executive Council (FEC).
“We are doing 20,000 more homes in this first phase of this exercise and another 20,000 households to provide access to lighting and electric power for small devices. The plan is to expand the solar home system programme to one million households, creating a few more million jobs.
“The federal government through the Rural Electrification Agency is developing an energy database that will show community locations and energy demand profiles, which in turn saves solar home system/solar mini grid providers time and money because we have already identified the communities beforehand.
The Wuna home solar project is an example of how we can creatively and aggressively provide power to our people by this pragmatic approach to our energy mix.
“We are convinced that renewable energy probably offers us the most sustainable means of increasing energy access to those who have no electricity and have no immediate hope of being connected to the national grid.
“We want to embark on a broader restructuring of the electricity sector and strive to achieve a more systematic development of power market design especially for the renewable energy. To do that, we need a framework that brings together all stakeholders towards ensuring that renewable energy becomes a real engine of growth for the Nigerian economy.
“We have mentioned several of the plans, the power sector plans and so many of those initiatives. The latest is to break the gridlock in the liquidity of the entire electricity value chain and so, our payment assurance system of over N701 billion has been approved by the FEC and in fact, the first payment has been made and we are going to make up the second payment.
“We hope that we free up that value chain which has created several problems of its own and we hope that this injection will help. We are also looking at several other reforms in the sector hoping that the market can become self-sustaining, independent and run on its own and free up all of the private sector energy that is waiting to come into the market.
“So as a multi-stakeholder platform, the Nigerian Renewable Energy Roundtable therefore has its work cut out for it. I believe it is to champion this new vision for renewable energy and ensure that we can translate theory to practise for the greater good of the Nigerian people,” he said.
In his submission, the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, said the ministry in collaboration with the private sector had relentlessly pursued alternative energy sources and would sustain the move because of its tendency to enhance diversification.
He added that concentration on renewable energy would be beneficial to rural areas and also help to create jobs as contained in the recently launched Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) adding that diversification could only be successful in an atmosphere of renewable energy.
Also speaking, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Science and Technology, Senator Ajayi Boroffice, pledged the National Assembly’s preparedness to provide all required regulatory frameworks to serve as the legal backing for renewable energy initiative.