According to the Nigerian Meteorological Agency(NIMET), Nigeria is naturally endowed with annual daily sunshine which averages 6.25 hours.
The democratization of solar energy as a leading source globally in the provision of clean renewable energy, and technological advances which is bringing the cost of batteries and photovoltaic capabilities, are changing the narrative in provision of electricity, to millions of underserved rural dwellers and in urban Nigeria where power supply is erratic.
The Power Sector Recovery Plan which outlines reforms required to improve the capacity of the national grid in providing reliable electricity for the nation states that the national economy loses $29.3 billion annually due to the paralysis in the electricity sector value chain. There are over 80 million Nigerians in rural communities without access to electricity, and over 40 million in semi urban areas with limited supply from the national grid. Due to our power system fragility, too much generation and too little can cause its collapse.
The Rural Electrification Agency (REA) states that Nigerians spend almost $14billion (5 trillion naira) annually on inefficient power generation which is expensive ($0.40/kwh) or 140 naira per kilowatts or more, for power which pollutes the environment with noise and poisonous substances. Rocky Mountain Institute and REA in a study supported by Rockefeller Foundation states that provision of energy access can create a $9.2 billion(3.2 trillion naira) per annum market opportunity for mini grids and solar home systems, which will lead to cost savings of $4.4billion(1.5 trillion naira) annually for Nigerian homes and businesses.
Taking advantage of the abundance of solar energy in northern Nigeria, Blue Camel Energy, a Kaduna based enterprise in partnership with Sterling Bank which has taken renewable energy as one of its core priorities and Kaduna Business School, delivered ‘’Solar-Fi Hub ‘’ which will provide access to electricity for many to charge their devices, access information via TV and can be used by farmers in rural communities for powering grinding machines and water pumps for irrigation. Blue Camel Energy has established its solar photovoltaic assembly plant which will assemble over 10,000 units of clean, affordable, and reliable solar products annually. Also, there is an academy which will develop energy entrepreneurship capacity development for about 3,000 youths.
Lumos Nigeria was established to provide affordable and sustainable electricity to off grid customers. It decided to adopt the pay as you go business model due to the rapid explosion of mobile payments in Africa and decrease in costs for solar energy. Lumos systems are available in key stores of leading telecommunications operator MTN across the country. Customers who want to access its service sign up by paying a one time commitment fee after which they buy the electricity bundle they can afford. Its technology locks the system remotely and only turns on after payment. After they have consumed the product for five years, its customers gain ownership of the system and Lumos unlocks it to provide them free electricity.
Smarter Grid uses distributed energy to provide affordable renewable electricity to underserved electricity consumers and non-consumers. It finances and provides flexible payment options such as Pay As You Go and Lease To Own through payment platforms such as Paga and Angaza. The firm has enabled those at the bottom of the pyramid to purchase its solar products for their productive use. Its product suite consists of smart technological devices which guarantee uninterrupted electricity for business owners, telecommunication operators and banks for their rural agency banking operation. Smarter Grid has installed over 7,000 solar systems and products across the nation since it commenced operations.
Green Village Electricity Projects (GVE) is the leading distributed renewable energy solutions provision company in Africa. Its operations cover design, sales, installation and maintenance of renewable energy solutions for residential, commercial, industrial and rural off grid or underserved communities through commercially sustainable business models in line with it’s clients needs. It distributed its first mini grid , a 6KW project in Egbeke, Rivers State and has since expanded to over 12 locations across the country with 13 mini grids serving about 7,000 household with cumulative energy capacity of 0.65 megawatts. It sells power to communities through a vendor network which purchases its electricity for resell to consumers. The vendors act as its agents and facilitate access to payment in rural areas. Residential consumers pay a one time connection fee of 6,000 naira which cover installation of a prepaid meter and load limiter to track energy consumption in real time. It offers discounted tariffs for micro small and medium businesses in rural communities.
GVE recently signed an agreement with Abuja Electricity Distribution Company and Wuse Market Traders Association for the development of a 1MW Inter Connected mini grid system at Wuse Market which will provide 24/7 electricity to over 5,000 traders who operate in the market which will ultimately lead to the discard of over 3,000 fossil fuel powered generators. The project will transform Wuse Market to Nigeria’s first 100 percent green and generator free economic cluster. The Wuse Market is part of its Distributed Renewable Energy Commercialization Initiative aimed at impacting over 3.6 million Nigerians with reliable power supply to underserved economic clusters like markets, industries, plazas, estates, and MSME’s, across the country by 2023.
Haven Hill Energy is an Abuja based green energy utility company which builds mini grids in off grid communities and sells electricity to consumers at a rate between 1,000 to 2,000 naira depending on consumption pattern. It has also developed projects in the industrial and commercial space for various clients.
Rensource Energy is a distributed energy company which utilizes advanced lithium batteries integrated with solar energy offered through a mobile subscription model which allows its users to pay for the power consumed and understand how they consume it.
Coldhubs provides solar powered cold stations for 24 hour storage of perishable food items for smallholder farmers, retailers and wholesalers. The cold rooms are strategically located in markets and traders store agricultural products in crates for 150 naira only. It uses educational comics in the three most popular indigenous languages Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba to conduct training sessions for market women and small holder farmers on farm to market strategies and management of post harvest losses. Coldhubs has increased the income of its customers by 50 percent.
Arnegy was established to provide sustainable solutions to energy reliability issues across emerging markets. It began operations with provision of affordable solar energy solutions to homes and businesses but has now redesigned to offer Power As A Service with focus on minigrids, commercial and industrial clients who need uninterrupted power. It has doubled down on its efforts in deepening penetration by connecting 20 hospitals to stable electricity with a target of 35,000 businesses within the next five years.
Arnegy offers three models to ensure it is competitive for sustainability; Energy As A Service which offers the consumer access to the facilities while he pays rental fee, lease-to-own model which can be settled within 12-48 months, and an outright ownership acquisition.
These outliers are worthy of commendation, and with support from the Federal Ministry of Power, they can help in setting millions of Nigerians free from the shackles of unreliable power.