Solar deployment to homes surges on the back of Nigeria’s failing grid power

The private consumer solar PV market in Nigeria is beginning to see some healthy and significant surge in deployment as the country’s public grid electricity continues to fail even into the first quarter of 2017, market reports from operators have indicated.

But the surge has not really translated into some financial fortunes for operators who contend with payment delays and harmful government policies that eventually take off huge percentages of the value of their transactions.

At the moment, Nigeria’s struggles with grid electricity supply has not seen improvements even with repeated government’s promises to rein in on the problems. Daily generation now averages 2900 megawatts while issues of poor gas supply and debts to operators pile up.

Renewable energy operators said this development has impacted positively on the solar PV market in the last two quarters of 2016, with remarkable placement orders seen in their books.

“It was a tough year (2016) altogether,” said Yusuf Suleiman, CEO of Blue Camel Energy, on the challenges of the sector in 2016. His views reflecting that of others that spoke with OGN.

“On the other side, there were no significant government projects pre and post-elections, and what that means was that sales were low and the only thing keeping us in the market now (2017) is that the energy situation is getting worse and on the back of the importance of energy, people are readjusting their priorities in energy demands and how much money that is being put into it, so as expensive as it appears though, there are still demands,” he added.

Suleiman further stated: “Frankly, my books indicate that if you pull out government and private bank’s projects (the banks rely on solar PV to power their ATMs), there is an increase in sales from private people because they are getting fed up with bills and costs incurred on diesel which has also contributed to the healthy sales.”

Notwithstanding the low government patronage in 2016, Suleiman forecasted an upward swing in PV sales and projects in 2017, majorly on the back of the 2017 budget which the government plans to spend N7.298 trillion in recovering the country’s recessed economy, as well as from gradual political campaigns spending ahead of the 2019 general elections.

“I think that in 2016, there were no impactful projects that could trickle down funding into people’s pocket but if the new budget is to be considered and properly implemented, we are perhaps expecting some increase in the level of activities this year by direct government projects and with the elections close by, people will realise that they need to deliver projects and quite a number of them are renewable energy projects – solar powered boreholes, street lightings and a number of others, I see this actually impacting on the market this year,” he added.