Nigeria’s power ministry building goes off grid in show of potency of solar power

Possibly to test the waters and lead by example, Nigeria’s ministry of power would soon disengage from sourcing electricity to power activities at its headquarter building in Maitama Abuja, from the national grid. It would instead use a hybrid solar mini grid expected to be installed on its rooftop by a consortium.

OGN gathered that the ministry building – about five floors – would be installed with a 750 kilowatt (kW) daytime and 75kW night time generation capacity hybrid solar system at the cost of $2.5 million.

The system would be installed and operated by a consortium led by Nigerian firm, Proserve Energy Services Limited, for a concession period of 10 years. This thus suggests the ministry would for the 10-year period take its electricity from the off grid system.

Similarly, the ministry could save at least N3 per kWh from its shift from electricity supplied to it by the local distribution network, to the independent mini grid system, and this basically because the tariff for the system would be cheaper than what it currently pays for power from the grid.

Managing Director of Proserve, Dr. Abba Ibrahim, told journalists in Abuja that the ministry requested for proposals from interested firms to bid for the concession, and Proserve was chosen after a competitive exercise.

Project details

Ibrahim, explained the processes of getting the system ready and operational had begun, and it included the ministry expected to provide a commercial guarantee to support its purchase and use of power from the system.

He also stated that excess load from the system would be sold to the local electricity distribution company (Discos).

According to him: “The Power House hybrid solar project is a pilot that came out from the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing and the whole idea is to make sure there is a decentralised distributed renewable energy source put into our power mix and this is an excellent opportunity which plugs into the current Power Sector Recovery Plan of the government.”

“So, basically what this means is that it is an independent power source but commercial in nature. The Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing quested for an expression of interest sometimes in 2017, it was publicly advertised and we participated in the bid process and emerged with the best technical submission,” he said.

Continuing, Ibrahim, stated: “We are working in partnership with a German company called Soventix – they’ve done a lot of these similar projects on a much larger scale around the world, and they are also working in Nigeria and have delivered successfully some similar projects.

“We are also working closely with Huawei, a Chinese OEM that’s going to provide certain aspects of the equipment like the inverters and combiner systems for hybrid and also Likusasa which is a South African company.

“Likusasa is going to be the installer of this Power House hybrid solution, it will do the construction and also do the operation and maintenance over its lifespan.”

Project’s economics

He took time to explain the project’s economics, and why it was a better option for the ministry which he noted could save cost and advance Nigeria’s commitment to climate change protocols.

“It is a concession for a 10-year period and we are going to sign a PPA (power purchase agreement). We are going to be providing power that is in excess of what is required back onto the grid.

“So, it’s like a three-way arrangement – there would be power generation from our system for the Power House but if you take for instance, on a Sunday morning when the sun is shining up to Sunday evening and you have power been generated by this solar panels, and the ministry is not operating, what do you do with it. So, there is a very clever means, we have a management system that will push that power on to the Abuja Disco network, and it will be metered,” he added.

The system, he stated will guarantee 100 per cent power availability for 365 days without a failure to the ministry. “This was part of the PPA,” Ibrahim said.

Speaking on the cost, he stated: “By power projects standards, this is a small project, it is just under $2.5 million in terms of overall development cost, but like I said it is a pilot and it is going to generate a pipeline of similar projects that are of equal smaller or bigger sizes but we are envisaging to grow a portfolio of between $30 to $50 million in the next three to four years of such projects.

“We have already identified quite a number of locations that we are going to be providing this guaranteed power supply. It is a 10-year concession renewable for another 10 years, we are going to invest our own money both equity and debt to develop the facility and then there will be a bank guarantee by the government which will enable us to raise the debt and also give comfort to the equity providers to build this project.”