Improving Energy Access through Renewable Energy: The Way Forward

Nigeria’s Power sector can be way better than it is right now.


According to the Transmission Company of Nigeria report for the 17th of July, 2018, the peak demand forecast was 22,330MW and a peak generation of just 4900.8MW was achieved. The highest peak generation in Nigeria till date is 5222.3MW which was attained on 18th December 2017 to serve a population of over 180 million people. Certainly, to improve the power sector, other solutions have to be deployed. A major means of providing reliable energy access is through Renewable Energy.

 

The shortcomings of conventional energy sources coupled with environmental issues have steered countries towards adopting renewable energy sources. Over the years, the renewable energy industry has made progress in value and technology. According to a 2015 report by Wikipedia, Nigeria has a long way to go with regards to the energy generated from renewable energy sources when compared with other countries. One of the major reasons for the slow diffusion of clean energy in Nigeria is weak or ineffective policies.

Policies are an important game changer in fostering the deployment of renewable energy technologies in any country. Learning and adopting policy experiences of advanced countries can help to develop renewable technologies to stabilize our power system.

In this article, we suggest a few policy considerations that can boost the adoption of renewable energy sources and the maturity of the industry as a whole in Nigeria.

Import Duties

Countries such as Kenya, Singapore, Switzerland, Germany amongst others, have implemented policies and financial incentives that support minimal to zero import duty on renewable energy components. In order to fulfill the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy), we have to create an enabling business environment and improve access to clean energy (renewable energy) by removing import duties on its components and equipment. Subsequently, customs duties on equipment that contribute to an increase in carbon emissions could be increased thereby increasing their cost.

Local Manufacturing

Equipment designed and manufactured e.g phones, cars etc., are usually designed to suit the current environment of the manufacturer. This should also be the case for renewable energy equipment. Incentives should be given to companies willing to set up local assembly plants and manufacturing plants within the country. This will further reduce the number of components sourced abroad by local developers and also reduce the capital expenditure on renewable energy projects. In order to drive the adoption of locally made components, additional import duty could be placed on the foreign components once the local plants mature enough both in terms of quality and quantity (i.e. ability to meet the demand).

Stringent Quality Control

One of the major issues discouraging many households from adopting solar technology is the proliferation of low-quality components in the early days. This begs an urgent quality control program for this sector.  Therefore, regulatory standards should be set and enforced on the players in the sector. This will lead to a boost in confidence of the public in adopting the renewable energy thereby increasing overall adoption and maturity of the industry.

 

Public buildings

As they say, “charity begins at home”, therefore the Government should lead by example by ensuring that all public utility companies and parastatals use renewable energy sources for generation (captive power). For instance, in Korea, there was a Local Renewable Energy Deployment Program that ensured that Public buildings use a form of renewable energy generation. This moved into buildings or companies with over 3000sqm overtime. This can be replicated here in Nigeria. When there’s an excess, there should be a feedback into the grid thereby embracing Feed-In-Tariffs used in advanced countries. In the long run, public housing schemes, estates, private firms or companies that consume above a certain amount of power should adopt this program. This will reduce the on the load on the national grid.

 

In conclusion, we desire improved energy access and uninterrupted power supply throughout the country. The deliberate implementation and close monitoring of feasible and workable policies will be beneficial to individuals, corporate entities, the government and the energy sector at large.



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