KADUNA APRIL 20, 2017 – Five states are to build solar-powered mini-grids to aid the Federal Government’s efforts at improving electricity generation and supply.
The states are Kaduna, Imo, Rivers, Delta and Ogun. They are partnering with GreenElec, a France-based solar energy solution provider, for the people.
Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai said at the inauguration of the solar-powered mini-grids in Kaduna that the initiative would enable communities without access to national grid, to access solar power for improved economic growth. He said the inauguration of a pilot study for the state’s mini-grids signifies hope for communities without light.
GreenElec’s President, Marvel Hochet, in an interview with The Nation in Lagos, said the use of solar-powered mini grids, would help in increasing access to electricity in Nigeria, as well as boost the energy mix initiative introduced by the Federal Government to encourage the use of both traditional and non-traditional means of generating electricity in the country.
He said pilot studies on the use of solar power on major highways, bridges, and streets have been conducted in Imo, Delta, Rivers and Ogun States, adding that efforts are ongoing to provide solar-powered mini-grids in many communities in the states, which will enable them use solar power for growth.
He said the firm was developing a mini solar system to provide electricity for medical centres in six local government areas (LGAs) in Ogun State, adding that it is targeting urban communities far from national grid and industrial clusters with banks, hotels, and factories to improve supply.
He said building mini-grids in the five states would reduce pressure on the national grid, which, according to him, has suffered neglect over time. He said the solar-powered mini-grids would be fitted with panels produced in France, strong batteries, poles and network, among other components, adding that they cannot be broken.
Hochet said there are about 5,000 people are in each community, adding that the people will be divided into homes to know the number of grids the community will need, before it can access solar electricity.
“Investigation conducted by GreenElec reveals that a community on average boasts of 5,000 people and that the community would need two solar powered mini grids to function well. A home boasts of five people and when you divide it by 5,000 people, you will have 1,000 homes. A mini grid will serve 500 homes, while two mini grids would take care of 1,000 homes,” he said.
According to him, there are at least 10 communities in each of the states, which are not connected to the grid, adding that the development means that the states would spend a lot of money to provide the grids for their people.
He said a greater percentage of people in rural areas were unable to access power, stressing that their problem would be over soon.
On cost of the grids, he said it costs a lot of money to produce and fix a mini-grid, adding that it is only the government and other high net worth groups that can bear the cost. The country is facing problems such as poor generation and supply of electricity, a development, which made the government to advocate for the use of renewable energy sources.
The National President, National Association of Energy Economists (NAEE), Prof Wunmi Iledare, said themajority of Nigerians still lack access to electricity. He said 45 per cent of the 170 million Nigerians do not have access to the national grid, while the remaining 55 per cent can make do with little or no electricity.