Time for Nigerian industries to power production with solar plant
EnergyDay Editorial Board
The electricity crisis in Nigeria has reached a tipping point and something must be urgently done to reverse the trend at least for the sake of the economy and businesses.
This medium strongly shares the view that the country faces the triple challenges of providing reliable power supply, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and keeping energy affordable to consumers. And in our view, the most viable alternative is solar-powered electriticity.
The availability of electricity in Nigeria has worsened over the years. The country has been unable to meet demand because of its policies, regulations and management of operations. Its failure to provide adequate and reliable energy is well documented, specifically its impact on the economy.
As a platform concerned with the debilitating negative effects of epileptic power supply which has led to low productivity, we advocate for alternative power supply to boost small and medium scale enterprises, the big companies and the economy in general.
We are however appalled by the fact that commercial and industrial sectors have become heavily reliant on self-generated power, using petrol and diesel generators. This accounts for nearly half of all electricity consumed in the country.
No doubts, the country’s shortage of reliable power supply is a constraint on the country’s economic growth. The country needs to diversify its economy beyond oil and gas revenues, because that market is volatile. But if the energy-hungry private sector invested more in self-generation to make this possible, pollution would rise.
An increase in self-generation would increase greenhouse gas emissions. The above scenario is the strongest argument for the adoption of solar- powered electriticity supply.
We are aware of the existence of extensive literature on the energy solutions that could provide reliable power supply, but in the circumstances we found ourselves, and in fidelity to reduction of pollution, EnergyDay has found it compelling to pitch its tent with advocates of solar powered electriticity since it is emission-free.
We are elated however, by the pioneering example of the Nigerian Breweries Plc in collaboration with Cross Boundary Energy, a leading solar solution firm in Africa which has commissioned a 663.6 kiloWatts peak (KWp), Nigeria’s first solar plant that provides clean electricity to the Nigerian Breweries Plc in Ibadan.
For record ,CrossBoundary Energy is a green energy provider with a cutting- edge innovation to solarise breweries and other industrial manufacturers in Africa. This NB Ibadan project was developed through 1,680 solar panels installed on the factory’s roof.
The Nigerian Breweries is not alone in this, the popular Jabi Mall in Abuja, has for a couple of years been on solar- powered electriticity without let, and this has boosted its business.
On Thursday , May 20, Starsight Energy commissioned 950kW solar system for the Big Cola Nigeria plant in Ogun State.
ColdHubs an energy solution firm in Nigeria, has served 3,517 farmers, retailers, and wholesalers in clusters across the country with 24 coolers. In 2019 alone, 24 operational ColdHubs saved 20,400 tons of food from spoilage, saving the natural resources used in producing the food.
We cannot continue to wait for government to come out with a major policy on this, as there has been an understanding between it and the DISCOS and other stakeholders.
It would seem government’s hands may have been tied through its partial deregulation of the energy sector .
This is the more compelling reason businesses should focus more on how to reduce cost imposed by epileptic power supply, and go for alternative means of maximising productivity and reduce cost.
Unreliable power supply comes with environmental cost too. Petrol and diesel generators increases pollution, with a negative impact on climate change and human health. In turn, environmental damage can result in agricultural job losses.
Thus, solar energy is an open sesame to boosting the productivity of small and medium scale enterprises seen as the main arteries of national economy.
We are aware of the reality of the country electrification initiatives favouring the expansion of centralised power systems to meet urban energy demand and decentralised power systems for rural areas.
Such an approach, it would seem, could still leave a shortage of electricity in urban areas because of the continued movement of people from rural to urban areas in search of better quality of life.
Extending the electricity reach of centralised systems might be costly, particularly in meeting the demand of the new urban population.
The most practical solution for countrywide electricity access is the combination of centralised and decentralised power systems. These solutions would ideally provide uninterrupted power supply, have cheap operating costs and be environmentally clean. And the best solution in this regard is solar power.
EnergyDay undertook a survey of 80 commercial centres in the capital city, Abuja and Lagos to establish their most common activities. We found that the majority of businesses in these commercial centres were boutiques, cyber cafes, salons, tailoring and grocery shops. Small-scale petrol generators served most of the commercial outlets on every shop floor.
We believe these small and medium scale enterprises could form a cluster and install solar, this will reduce individual cost and boost production. And for those of them who can do it alone, the better.
The Nigerian Breweries solar plant was allegedly built at the cost of over N300 million, which we believe is still modest for other big companies to emulate.
On the long run, it is still cheaper compared to the costs big companies incurred as indebtedness to DISCOs.
According to Nigerian Breweries’ MD the power solution will be providing a significant reduction to the current cost of power, while also reducing the plant’s CO2 emissions by over 10,000 tonnes over the lifespan of the plant.
Our position as a platform is that the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, MAN, should encourage its members to seriously consider the Nigerian Breweries’ option as a way out of exorbitant cost of the current electriticity supply which has taken away a huge chunk of their profits. It is time to look at the solar option. We can not continue to delude ourselves that all is well with the state of energy sector. Now is the time for organised private sector to take the bull by the horn and do the needful by embracing the solar -powered initiative.