Fed Govt to embrace renewable energy

No Comments » November 6th, 2007 posted by // Categories: Energy Development Project





Fed Govt to embrace renewable energy         6/11/2007

The current recourse to renewable energy has become an imperative measure of coping with the rising demand for electricity supply in Nigeria and other nations in West Africa. To bridge the widening gap between demand and supply of electricity has resulted in seeking solution from local and international organizations. Recently, the Minister of State for Energy (Power) Mrs. Fatima Balaraba Ibrahim at two conferences brought together experts from the public and private sector as well as decision makers to share experience on the international best practice with delegates from other countries that are more advanced in the utilization of renewable energy particularly for electricity generation.

In the International Renewable Energy Conference held in Abuja, the minister viewed renewable energy as part of the new strategies to accelerate the provision of electricity that must be pursued steadfastly to realize the set NEEDS and MDGs. But to quicken this requires aggressive deployment of grid connect, mini and stand-alone renewable electricity systems in country.

To beef up the 3,000MW of power, to 10,000MW, she claimed that a number of projects are already at different level of completion. “On going projects span generation, transmission and distribution sectors with natural gas as the dominant source of power plants. Therefore, in consideration of the environment and energy security for the country, diversification of the nation’s technology mix for power generation becomes imperative.”

According to her, nature has blessed Nigeria with numerous resources for generating clean power and nation must take the advantage to exploit them for the benefit of the people and the global environment. Citing an example that it has always been reported that solar radiation on one per cent of the land mass of the country can generate electricity well in excess of the nation’s demand, she admitted that government knows the major impediments to the widespread deployment of solar energy in the country have been the cost of components, particularly the photovoltaic panels.

The challenges would become history only if there are concerted efforts of delegates at coming up with recommendations to government on the initiative that would break down the hurdles as Nigeria is known to be endowed with large quantities of semiconductor-grade silica sand. “With the renewed global interest in Renewable Energy, Nigeria has the potential to be a regional center for the manufacture and export of solar panels,” she said.

Already, Nigeria is determined to take advantage of many other possibilities of diversifying the technology- mix for power generation. This is evident in the fact that the Federal Government has okayed a detailed report outlining a 10-year Renewable Energy Policy Guideline and a proper Action Plan for executing the recommendations contained therein. Ibrahim explaining the broad objective of the programme said it is to spread rural and remote access to electricity using non-conventional energy sources such as solar, wind mini-hydro and biomass. “The thrust of the implementation plan would be driven by Rural Development Plans of States and Local Governments while Federal Government focuses its resources on the ongoing resuscitation of the nation’s power infrastructure.”

Also, the Onshore Wind Resources mapping for Nigeria has been concluded recently while the Federal Government has also commissioned a consultant to undertake Offshore Wind Resources study. The minister speaking in the affirmative noted that the resource map shows that Nigeria is blessed with a good number of zones with viable wind speeds of up to 6.5m/s, which is suitable for the generation of electricity. Following this development, wind farms, in the mega-watt class are being planed for execution as pilot schemes all over the country. However, it is expected that investors and other tiers of government not only for rural access would imitate such projects to electricity but also for the national grid.

Emphasizing that the battle for power generation is on, she dropped the hint that Nigeria government recently completed Master Plan on the Utilization of Solar Cooperation Energy, which was fully financed by the Japan International Cooperation Agency. She stressed that the study has clearly articulated a long-term vision and action plan that would enable the nation take maximum advantage of the solar energy thus creating a proper framework for private-sector/community led utilization of solar energy. Hopefully, the medium term projection of generating up to 5 per cent of the nation’s power needs from renewable requires a number of incentives and policy initiative therefore; stakeholders and Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Agency are expected to recommend such incentives and necessary tariffs for implementation by government.

Furthermore, the renewable energy discourse was the dominant agenda at the second meeting of the West African Power Pool held in Abuja last week. The minister also brought her campaign for development of renewable energy to bear as she said “The development of the sub-region depends largely on the availability of Electric Power supply and closing the huge gap that exists between demand for electricity and its supply. There is a need for ECOWAS countries to seek internal ways and means of solving the energy problems of member states, rather than running after donors.”

In this light, she drew attention to the fact that the sub-regional power planners are in dire need for increasing the role of renewable energy in achieving sustainable development in the region. She urged WAPP to in the long-term envision a sub-region that would significantly be less dependent on hydrocarbons. Solar-energy, biomass, small hydro-power and wind are expected to provide the chances for empowering people and communities in coping with the energy and developmental needs of the sub-region.

Her reason for the aforementioned alternative was that the seemingly vast resource of hydrocarbons in the region is a depleting asset, which would be exhausted in a few decades. While increased exploitation of gas provides bridge to allow hydrocarbon future, usage of renewable would increasingly dominate the mix in the long- term energy vision for the sub-region, mostly off-grid application for rural communities. In addition, two-thirds of the population of the sub-region resides in the rural areas. Above all, because renewable energy is environmental friendly, reducing air pollution; promoting urban air quality and global climate are presently attracting global attention.

On this note, she urged WAPP to focus on renewable energy to serve remote areas, isolated or rural telecommunications and to stimulate economic growth as well as service health care needs. She added that fiscal and other incentives to promote the utilization of renewable energy such as preferential tariffs, take or pay contracts be encouraged.

In this light, the minister sought the efforts of both local and international players in the sector at the realization of sufficient electricity supply for economic growth, as the global economy is power driven.



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