UPDATED: Nigerian companies are transitioning from national grid to solar plants


…as FCMB, Nigerian Breweries take lead

Oredola Adeola

As the global economy continues to adjust to the Paris Agreement on Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs), and UKCOP26 Energy Transition Campaign (ETC), with a switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, there is an increasing rise in the number of large scale installations of solar power in Nigeria.

This development is seen by many analysts as a major win for the green advocacy which has been campaigning for a switch from carbon emission to environmental -friendly energy sources.

Major retailers, manufacturers and operators in the service sectors of Nigerian economy are gradually scaling up the off-grid lighting market by embracing solar power to run their operations.

This is a win-win situation for the green ecosystem, as the drift towards solar energy is part of concerted efforts by large scale firms in the country to confront challenges emanating from the country’s energy deficiency. This is the view of many stakeholders spoken to by EnergyDay.

Most industries in the country are now at the forefront of promoting cleaner and greener environment by adopting solar technology, a clean energy solution.
 

The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), in its recent data on the cost of electricity revealed that 40 per cent of its members’ production costs, is factored on self generated power from Diesel generators, which also accounts for the increase in the price of goods and services. 

Data obtained from the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET), showed that the country boasts of an annual daily sunshine average of 6.25 hours. This has given advocates and industry players the added reason to push more for the adoption of environmental- friendly energy source.

Leading the industrial pack in the adoption of solar plant is the Nigerian Breweries (NB) Plc, with the 663.6 kiloWatts peak (KWp) in Ibadan, Oyo State, in collaboration with Cross Boundary Energy, a leading solar solution firm in Africa.
The 663.6 kiloWatts plant installed is the country’s first solar plant.

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 solar plant was built at the cost of over N300 million. According to the brewery giant, the power solution will allow for a significant reduction in the current cost of power, while also reducing the plant’s CO2 emissions by over 10,000 tonnes over the lifespan of the plant.

CrossBoundary Energy is also the firm behind the Actis UK, 609kwp solar hybrid power plant at Jabi Lake Mall, Abuja, Nigeria, reducing the mall’s carbon emissions by over 13,000 tonnes in line with the Paris agreement on SDG. This particular project was the first rooftop solar- powered electricity for a Nigerian mall.

Actis, a United Kingdom – based firm, managing the 106 Micro, Small and Medium-scale Enterprises (MSMEs) in the country disclosed that in almost two years of switching over to large scale solar plant, its bills have dropped by 30 per cent at the Jabi Lake Mall in Abuja.

On May 20, 2021, following the take-off of the Nigerian Breweries Plc’s solar Plant in Ibadan, Big Cola Nigeria, one of the leading beverage brands in Nigeria, in collaboration with Starsight Energy commissioned 950kW solar system in its plant in Sagamu, Ogun State.

Like CrossBoundary, Starsight is another leading African Commercial and Industrial (“C&I”) solar power provider.

Starsight also in collaboration with one of Nigeria’s commercial bank, First City Monument Bank (FCMB), installed end-to-end power and cooling services in 110 of its branches across Nigeria.

This landmark installation according to the FCMB was carried out in line with the World Bank quality standard for clean off-grid lighting products. 

EnergyDay gathered that FCMB with its partners has within six years powered about 100 of its branches with installed sustainable power, storage, and cooling solutions.

This particular project has provided FCMB with 99.99 percent uptime allowing the bank to focus on its core business of banking with low carbon emission. 

Tapping into the business side of the solar marker, FCMB reportedly offered soft loan to suppliers of the solar systems on its bank’s books, giving them the opportunity to supply its staff across the country solar facilities for their homes during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.

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.

Otunba Akinbo Akin-Olugbade, MD Kawai Technologies Ltd, Chairman Power Sector Group, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, in a chat with EnergyDay said that out of the total energy consumed by Nigerian industries, only 4% is supplied from grid-connected electricity, while about 96% is self-produced.

He said, “Large Scale adoption of solar installation to run industries is the case all over. It’s the only logical thing to do, especially now that solar pricing is comparable to other forms of power generation.

“A lot of companies are doing hybrid energy supplies to their plants. They will only continue to grow to reduce their production cost, which of course reduces revenue accruing to the electricity distribution companies.

“It is the only sensible thing to do actually. And there’s a growing number of funding opportunities for making the switch to solar, some with 20 year repayment time scales. Making it an attractive option for manufacturers.

He stated that this is responsible for the huge cost of products and services in the country. He, however, urged the Federal Government to give more attention to the development of Photo Voltaic-solar panels to upscale industrial adoption of Solar power plant.

The LCCI Power boss called for initiation and implementation of policies that would encourage large scale investments in renewable energy adding that quick implementation of such solutions should be the focus to relieve the pressure on the main grid.

According to Professor Isaac Itodo, former President , Solar Energy Society of Nigeria, the new development is evidently part of the gains of age-long advocacy. “It is an encouraging development that the industrial sector and manufacturers are now tapping into the abundance energy derived from sun to reduce cost on production”, he said.

He further stated that, “Although this is coming quite late, but those who have started switching needs to tell their success stories for other manufacturers and service providers to join.

“With the new global standard and technological advancement solar power adoption by Nigerian industries is a great incentive to investment drive for renewable energy source equipment and this would go further to open up improved battery technology and photovoltaic technological advancement.

The Don who is a lecturer at the University of Agriculture , Makurdi, Benue state, however, called for sound regulatory environment, strong political will on the part of government, friendly operational environment and intense advocacy to encourage more companies to invest in this off -grid energy sector.

Innocent Azih, Chief Operating Officer, Eko Climate Change, in a chat with EnergyDay disclosed that Nigerian companies’ switch from national grid to renewable energy is a cost -saving mechanism that every responsible company should adopt for sustainable development.

According to him “Whether you are in manufacturing, Services or even individual activity, the important thing is to ensure that your carbon savings schemes are quantified and verified by a Carbon Market player.

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