Nigeria’s Renewable Energy Policy: A Fantasy or Reality?
The role of energy in development can not be overemphasized. However, around 70% of global energy supply today is from fossil fuels which in turn contributes significantly to climate change. Efforts are underway to mitigate climate change and different countries across the world are tasked to develop robust strategies to limit their national greenhouse gas (GHG) inventories. However, it remains to be seen how effective these strategies will be towards mitigating GHGs.
Nigeria—a developing country situated in the western part of Africa with a population of 180 million persons is the most populous nation as well as the biggest economy in the African continent. However, about 60% of Nigerians still live below the poverty line. This can also be linked to the energy access rate in the country. Currently, about 40% of Nigerians do not have access to electricity, and those who have may consider the supply to be erratic. The current situation shows that Nigeria’s growing population is underserved and is constantly yearning for socio-economic development. To improve the welfare of Nigerians as well as enhance the per capita income, the demand for energy will definitely rise in the future. Moreover, Nigeria is a signatory to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and has also committed itself in the Paris Accord to reduce its national GHG inventory. However, the electricity system is dominated by natural gas, accounting for about 85% of the supply system while the transport sector is fully run by gasoline and diesel.
Consequently, satisfying the current unmet energy demand, ensuring rapid economic development, without increasing greenhouse gas emissions with the limited resources available creates a dilemma for Nigerian decision makers. To overcome this problem, the government has decided to pursue its development agenda in a sustainable manner and in turn contribute to the global fight against climate change without ignoring its developmental priorities. The Federal Government of Nigeria has developed the National Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Policy (NREEEP). The NREEEP outlines various policies and programs for the deployment of renewable energy technologies in the country.
The NREEEP targets can be summarised as follows: Short term (2015)- 5, 15, 117 MW of biomass, wind, and solar (PV and CSP) electricity respectively. Medium term (2020)- 57, 632, 1343 MW of biomass, wind, and solar (PV and CSP) electricity respectively and, Long term (2030)- 292, 3211, 6832 MW of biomass, wind, and solar (PV and CSP) electricity respectively . The key question explored in this article is whether these ambitious targets are a joke or are they realistic? It is worthwhile to note that these targets are for grid-connected electricity. Currently, apart from the conventional large hydro power which serves the grid, there is no grid connected renewable energy in the country.
With respect to biomass, different varieties of biomass resources exist in the country. Nigeria produces 91.4 million t/yr of agricultural residues, 43.4 million t/yr of fuelwood, and 18.5 million t/yr of municipal solid waste. If properly harnessed, Nigeria can become a major player in electricity generation from biomass. Unfortunately, there is no waste-to-energy active plant in Nigeria. Although there has been an attempt by the government of Lagos state to generate electricity from the daily waste collected from the city, but it remains to see how this attempt will turn out to become a reality.
Though Nigeria lies in the moderate zone of wind energy resources, some studies have shown that there are some good wind sites with a verage wind speed of 5 m/s in Sokoto, Jos, Kano, Gombe and Funtua. Wind energy development in Nigerian is still at an infant stage and the few wind energy technologies found the country are mainly wind mills which are used for irrigation water pumping in some rural communities in the northern regions. Nigeria is yet to start sustainable harvesting of electricity from wind but it’s is worthy to mention that there are two wind farms under construction; 10 and 100 MW in Katsina and Plateau states respectively.
Nigeria is blessed abundantly with solar resource most especially in the northern part of the country. The northern region has average global horizontal irradiation of about 2000 – 2200 kwh/m2. Some studies have opined that if 1% of Nigeria landmass is used for solar PV electricity generation, it is capable of producing around 207,000 GWh of electricity per year which is more than enough to satisfy Nigeria’s energy requirements. Despite the high potential, there is no grid connected solar plant in the country currently. The solar technologies available are few off-gird systems in the rural areas, street lights and few decentralised rooftop solar PV systems. While there is no grid connected solar plant yet, it is worthwhile to mention that the proposed grid connected 15 MW solar PV project of Anjeed Kafanchan has received the Environmental Impact Assessment certificate from the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Environment. It may be noted that the NREEEP short term targets of 2015 (three years ago) is yet to become a reality in 2018. This implies that the current targets are not feasible and will require the government to double its efforts if anything near the ambitious targets of 2030 is to become reality in the foreseeable future.
Finally, it can be seen that all that Nigeria currently possess is potential. For the targets mentioned in the NREEEP to become a reality in the future, these potentials need to be converted to renewable energy power plants. We argue that if the government wants to achieve the targets of the NREEEP, there is need for mobilization of funds both within and outside to invest in the power sector. Moreover, the government need to bring in new actors into the game. The private sector will have to play a significant role in all the chains of electricity production in Nigeria. It is also important to note that there will be some hurdles to cross towards achieving these targets, such as corruption. All in all, with the current state of infrastructures in the Nigerian power sector, the future looks gloomy and the NREEEP target might only be an illusion. However, with the political will to go ahead as well as a comprehensive financing/regulatory roadmap, Nigeria can still achieve the ambitious targets of the NREEEP by 2030.
Reference:  NREEEP. Approved National Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Policy (NREEEP) for the power sector 2015. http://www.power.gov.ng/download/NREEE POLICY 2015- FEC APPROVED COPY.pdf (accessed 15 October 2017).
Michael Dioha, a Nigerian, holds a BSc Degree in Mechanical Engineering (First Class Honours) from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana. His main areas of expertise include Energy transitions, Energy/Climate policy, and Energy-economy-environment (E3) modelling. At present, he is pursuing his Ph.D. in the Energy & Environment Department of TERI School of Advanced Studies, India. He has published several monographs and scholarly articles in peer-reviewed journals. Dioha is also a member of the International Association for Energy Economics (IAEE).