Lengthy power cuts are pretty much a daily experience in Nigeria. The country’s epileptic power supply has been identified by businesses as the second biggest obstacle to doing business in the country, after a lack of access to finance.
This unreliable power supply is a major hindrance to Nigeria’s economic growth. It also costs the country an enormous amount of money. Quoting Nigerian government data, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) says that a lack of access to reliable electricity costs Nigeria an estimated $29 billion a year.
The situation comes with environmental and health risks, too. Many individuals, households and organizations have resorted to fossil-fueled generators. Nigerians spend an estimated $14 billion a year on small-scale generators.
The country’s current power generation capacity, according to the IMF, is about 13,000MW. But often electricity generated and transmitted is below 4,000MW/hour. Nigeria’s generation capacity is comprised of gas-fired and hydro power stations. However, the system operates well below capacity.
This is partly because of problems with gas supplies to fuel the power stations. That’s where solar power comes in. It holds enormous promise for addressing Nigeria’s unreliable energy supply. Estimates suggest it could increase the availability of electricity to almost 80 million people who currently have none.
It could also diversify the country’s energy portfolio. Most of this promise is based on the fact that solar-based generation capacity can be built up far quicker than traditional power plants. It can also be built in chunks, starting small and adding on the capacity as time goes on.
Solar can also be connected to a country’s electricity grid. Or it can be run off the grid. This makes it the most practical option for improving access to electricity across Nigeria. It can also be used on its own, or as part of a hybrid mix with other technologies.