By Udeme Akpan and Prince Okafor
ABUJA—THE Federal Government, states and private investors have invested over $20 billion on new 20 solar projects, targeted at boosting supply in the country.
The new projects include the $479 million Shiroro project, Niger State, $5 billion Delta State utility-scale solar project, $2.3 billion University of Ilorin solar power plant and $1 billion FirstGate solar park.
Others include GreenWish partners plant, Motir DuSable Solar Power Plant – Phase I, Motir DuSable Solar Power Plant – Phase II, Panyam solar project, Nova Scotia power project, Dutse, Manchok Ranch solar power project, Kankia Solar Power Plant, Kaduna solar power project, Osun solar park, Kumbotso solar plant, Ekiti solar power plant, Nasawara solar power plant, Black Rhino-Dangote solar project, Sokoto solar power plant, Yola solar power plant, Adamawa, Kano solar power plant, Birnin solar power plant, Kebbi and Karu solar plant, Nasarawa.
Future Energy Nigeria which made this known in its latest report indicated that: ‘’Northern Nigeria has some of the highest solar irradiation in the world. Solar power plants are environmentally friendly as the omit no carbon into the atmosphere.
‘’They have a much shorter construction time than conventional plants. A number of feasibility studies have been carried out in the solar space in recent years. The best yields are in the northern part of the country where the irradiation exceeds 2200KWh/m2, the southern part of the country also has good yields in certain areas.
‘’Investments in the solar space would mainly focus on building power plants and feasibility studies in areas with good yields.”
Investigations showed that these and other plants are targeted at enabling the government to achieve its 2017-2020 Economic and Recovery Growth Plan, ERGP.
The ERGP, a medium-term structural reform to diversify Nigeria’s economy, including expanding power sector infrastructure, was drawn based on the assumption that electricity supply would continue to grow, hitting 10,000 megawatts, MW, by 2020.
But the latest Presidency report obtained by Vanguard showed that Nigeria has consistently generated below 4,000 MW for a greater part of 2016 and 2017, barely three years to set target.
It showed that the nation’s power sector was haunted by many problems, including poor and limited facilities, inadequate gas, vandalism, energy theft and lack of funds.
It showed that even if these challenges, especially lack of funds were solved immediately, it would still require between three to five years to design, construct, import and install new power plants and other infrastructure needed to increase power generation, transmission and distribution in the nation.
Meanwhile, the Presidency report also stated that: “On September 21, 2017, average power sent out was 3,417 MWh/hour (down by 49.74MWh/h); the reported gas constraint was 747.5MW; reported line constraint was 0MW, while reported frequency management constraint due to loss of DisCo feeders was 2144MW.
“The water management constraint was 0MW. The power sector lost an estimated N1, 388,000,000 on September 21 2017, due to constraints. Gas constraint appears to be on the rise again after being fairly stable for several weeks.”
Commenting on the poor state of the sector, Mr. Sunday Oduntan, Executive Director of Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors, ANED, disclosed in an interview: ‘’There are some challenges that need to be tackled by many stakeholders, especially the Federal Government, the DisCos and gas suppliers.
‘’These include lack of liquidity and energy theft which culminate in leakages and losses. The vandalism of facilities that occur too often is also a serious problem that leads to huge deficit. No bank would lend you money unless your business is bankable.”