Democratizing Access To Renewal Energy in Nigeria By Replicating IKEA’s SolarVille Model

Democratizing Access To Renewal Energy in Nigeria By Replicating IKEA’s SolarVille Model

By Nnamdi Odumody

In October 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that governments would have to take rapid, far reaching and unprecedented changes in all aspects of society to avoid disastrous levels of global warming. The global scientific authority was unambiguous: at the current rate of warming, the planet will reach the crucial threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels as early as 2030.

The impacts which include stronger storms, more erratic weather, heat waves, floods, food shortages, rising sea levels, desertification, shrinking lakes and rivers, and large scale disruptions to migration patterns will be felt across ecosystems, communities and economies worldwide.

According to the IPCC, to ensure we maintain a 50-50 chance of limiting warming to around 1.5 degrees Celsius this century, CO2 emissions need to be lowered by 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050.

IKEA’s Innovation Lab Space 10 has unveiled a project ‘’SolarVille’’ which will redesign access to clean energy. Solarville is an ambitious and realizable vision for the future. It is a working prototype of a miniature neighborhood completely powered by solar energy. Built to a 1.50 scale, some households generate their own renewable energy using solar panels while others automatically purchase excess electricity directly from the producer using blockchain technology. The result is a model of a self-sufficient, community-driven microgrid system where people trade renewable and affordable energy from one another based on their individual needs.

As we went through the tour, one of the items got my brain firing. They have built this hand hair dryer that could buy the cheapest electricity using blockchain. In the dryer is a blockchain node via Internet connection which links it into an ecosystem. As you use the dryer, it would be combing the world, looking for the cheapest electricity. Once it finds, an AI bargains, and closes the deal. You would not even know. Yes, you would continue to dry your hair while the agents of bits and bytes do their jobs!

About 1.1 billion people around the world still have little or no access to electricity. It’s almost an expensive task to reach these people with centralized energy networks today as doing such is not economically optimized.  Consequently, those locked in energy poverty continue to remain in that state.

Solarville aims to solve that problem through the combination of technologies such as solar energy, micro-grids and blockchain, opening new opportunities for off-grid systems, and allowing people to leapfrog traditional grid electricity infrastructures.

The Federal Ministry of Power, Works & Housing, Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, and Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trader should work out modalities which will make it convenient for embedded power providers to utilize the abundance of renewable energy in Nigeria to provide access to electricity for millions of Nigerians rather than the dependence on gas-powered Independent Power Plants which remain expensive and vulnerable to disruptions in gas production from the Niger Delta. The model of SolarVille may even work better in Nigeria since we have the abundance of solar energy in the nation.

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