Focus on gas production expansion, experts tell FG

Solomon Ezeme

 

As the global clamour for decarbonization continues, experts in the energy sector have called on the Federal Government not to be moved by foreign influences but be focused on expanding Nigeria’s local gas production capacity.

The advice was handed out at the round-table discussion powered by the PricewaterhouseCoopers Nigeria (PwC) featuring issues around the power sector in Africa, held in Lagos on Tuesday.

The event with the themed: “Sustainable Power Supply in Nigeria – What Next? Charged government to ensure the full utilisation of Nigeria’s large proven reserves of natural gas in positioning itself as a leading power hub in Africa.

Special Adviser to the President on Infrastructure, Ahmad Zakari, said: “It is not in the best interest of Nigeria to have over 100 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of gas reserves, and then think that we shouldn’t utilize that gas for our industrial base.”

He added that Nigeria has not gotten to the point where it can fully inject renewables into its off-grid energy market of about half of its population.

According to him, the country’s gas production capacity has to first be stepped up, to provide enough gas needed to fully implement renewable energy projects and operate renewable solutions in Nigeria.

“To be honest no technology in renewable is yet capable to work without some base-stored energy. So, I think Nigeria should be the energy bank of Western and Central Africa.

“We have enough gas to become that. If we want, we can export the gas. If we don’t, we can build the power plants and export the power.

“We currently export to Togo, Benin, Ghana and other West African countries. We must use gas, and I think, we are investing in that. This government is investing to optimize the gas network.

“We must use gas. We must push back on this exorbitant pressure by other nations to stop funding for gas.

“We will do renewables, but we can’t even put all the amount of renewables we need on the grid without base load,” he said.

He also said that the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration is not objected to using renewables, but that it is focused on fully incorporating them into the Nigeria power system through gas.

“So, this administration is committed to closing up those critical gas projects.

“And as you can see from Mr President and the Vice President, quite a lot of engagements prior to COP26, that we we pushing this narrative for the transition that allows for renewables but effectively incorporates gas as a baseload supply,” Zakari said.

Also, speaking the, Vice-Chairman, Woman in Sustainable Power Africa Network and CEO, Central Electric and Utilities Limited, Adedoyin Adele-Fadipe, said that tackling energy poverty in the country is more crucial at this point, than pressing for the attainment of net-zero emissions.

She noted that Nigeria must insist on optimizing its available natural resources if the same foreign nations clamouring for decarbonization can’t provide it the needed support to achieving that.

“We have to say: yes, we are naturally endowed, but are we able to maximise the resources that we have?

“We are limited in our scope about commercializing the entire system. But, on the other hand, the issue of on-grid and off-grid solution needs to be addressed.

“There’s opportunity within this area for us to be able to take advantage of what is being made available and use it to address the challenges with access to electricity, in our country.

“It’s not about saying they want to make us stop using our resources, and then say they want us to go to this and it’s expensive. It is about understanding that we have a leverage.

“The issue is: who is going to stand in our behalf and help us access those potentials, to make sure that we can access electricity, we can benefit, whether financially or any other way.

“Because, we need to be able to draw from their knowledge on the needed technology and funding. We need to be able to drive their interest to support our larger economy space so that we are in the right position to transit.

On his part, Energy and Infrastructure Strategy Lead at PwC South Africa, James Mackay, while speaking on Africa’s growth in terms of renewables, said that the Annual Growth rate was about 21% between 2010-2020.

He stated that about 35 out of the 54 countries in Africa have undertaken commitments towards achieving net-zero emissions.

Mackay also noted that Africa would need about at $2.8 trillion to decarbonize power and achieve global net-zero goal by 2050. He described this as not being cost-effective and neglecting the most pressing power needs of the region.

“To decarbonize our (Africa’s) power, the cost is estimated to be around $2.8 trillion. This probably unaffordable to most African economies.

“And all this is just to decarbonize, which doesn’t even address the issue of energy poverty that is facing us,” he said.

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