Nigeria: Solar stays on a positive market surge, actively lights up 2.23m homes

Solar photovoltaic (PV) has continued to record positive market acceptance in Nigeria, actively providing 2.23 million of her citizens electricity in 2016 to light up their homes and businesses, Nigeria’s power minister, Mr. Babatunde Fashola has disclosed.

According to Fashola, data from his ministry indicated that as at the last quarter (Q4) of 2016, the market for solar PV in Nigeria was looking healthy and really positive. He said 2.23 million of the country’s circa 180 million people were actively using solar based lighting products.

He also explained at the launch of a 100 kilowatts peak (kwp) capacity solar photovoltaic (PV) rooftop system that was built by an indigenous renewable energy firm, Protergia, for the House on the Rock church in Abuja, that up to 372,000 mini and hybrid solar products/projects were installed in-country within the period under consideration.

“Our journey to incremental energy is underway. There are 372,000 estimated solar products installed in Nigeria as at Q4 of 2016. There are currently 2.23 million Nigerians benefitting from solar products, and that number is increasing on daily basis,” said Fashola.

A healthy market segue for solar?

Indicating that the conversation around solar deployment had begun to change from what it was in the past, Fashola indicated that Nigeria was on the path to accepting solar as an effective alternative to fossil power.

Though, he stated that every economically known energy source had its challenges, the minister however noted that none of them (gas, hydro, solar, wind) had a perfect efficiency rate, and would need the complement of others.

He said Nigeria would go on to engage and support private solar power investors to scale the market, adding that planned projects such as the 1000MW largescale Jigawa solar farm was already being designed for implementation.

“Nigeria currently now represents seven per cent of the African solar lantern market. But beyond home appliances, there are also solar mini grids and solar hybrids – we’ve spoken about Lower Usuma Dam. I can tell you about the 1.46 megawatts solar power installed across 40 primary health care centres in Kaduna, I can also tell you about the 5 megawatts solar power deployed to 213 secondary and primary health care systems in Lagos.

“Improving access to electricity is improving with more companies involved in supply and installation. This government understands the life-changing impacts that access to power and availability of power can deliver to you (Nigerians),” the minister explained.

Source solar equipment in-country, not importation

Fashola, also called on operators in the solar PV market to consider producing a good number of the equipment they use in country, as against importing from oversea production bases.

He said this could be the answer to demands for a zero import duty on solar products and equipment by operators, as well as the push to drive down cost.

According to him: “We should not just be looking at importing panels. We should be looking seriously at adding values.

“There is a facility in the University of Sokoto which I saw and which is involved in solar manufacturing bringing in I think the granules and we should quickly begin to look at how to expand that and do more because that is really made in Nigeria.

“It is an investment that was made a while back through a multilateral support to Sokoto University, to develop renewable energy capacity. The intention and reality is that there is a factory and laboratory setting where PV solar panels are being made and assembled, and I think that we should help to revive and expand it because the building blocks are already in place.”