By Nicholas Esekhile
Solar-based energy, especially when done on a large scale, can contribute to reducing the cost of generating and distributing electricity in Nigeria, Samuel Ayokunle Olowosejeje, Research fellow, University College Cork, Ireland, said.
The University Don, who was reacting to the perennial low level of electricity penetration in the country, said that there is need for Nigerians to embrace renewable energy to mitigate the energy challenge being experienced presently.
According to him, “I conducted a case study with some colleagues to ascertain the economic value of solar power to Nigeria. We calculated that a transition to solar-based energy could reduce the country’s electricity costs. These savings are based on the current cost of running Nigeria’s electricity grid supported by petrol or diesel generators used by businesses and households.
“The other advantage of going solar would be its impact on the cost of generating and distributing electricity. Solar costs are coming down. They have become cheaper than the fossil fuel alternatives, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency. The agency, an intergovernmental organization, supports countries’ transition towards sustainable energy. Nigeria’s electricity system is saddled with a huge gap between the cost of generating electricity and the tariffs it receives.
“Renewable technologies could also help to develop an electricity market where those producing surplus energy can sell it to those who have a shortfall. Currently, such a market is limited by the conventional grid systems. These are designed based on centralised big power plants and a one-way flow of energy from the power plants to the customers.
“Also, the design of conventional electricity grids is such that they are only stable to the extent that demand and supply is well balanced. They are therefore not well suited to the intermittent supply of electricity that renewables generate. The solution to these limits of conventional grids could be micro-grid clusters that can source energy from a variety of independent power producers.
“The potential for building solar units in small chunks and adding more capacity as time goes on makes solar-based power generation ideal for plugging the gaps in Nigeria’s energy requirements. It is the most technically feasible and cost-effective solution to the challenge of extending electricity to 80 million people who are currently without access to energy. Solar, in combination with other technologies, can reduce the cost of doing business in Nigeria,” he added.