Published 24 February 2022
The 2016 initiative by the Federal Government to introduce solar-powered electricity for a few federal universities to lower the cost of power was a good one; but to those of us in the power generation and supply industry, we know it would not be the best idea considering the high capex—capital expenditure—cost of solar infrastructures, including panels, inverter and batteries, especially now that exchange rate is N575/$1.
We should also not forget that a lot of expanse of land space (which is another major consideration and hindrance for solar farms) is usually involved and such land facility is getting increasingly expensive too, depending on the area where such solar power is required.
My experience with homes where solar batteries are installed in the few residential estates that we’ve generated and supplied power in the Lekki-Epe axis of Lagos revealed that owners of solar inverters and batteries expend more money on power consumption due to long period of charging their batteries in readiness for back-up power whenever power provided by electricity distribution companies fails and sun rays are out.
Last year, I returned from an energy survey of a federal university located in the eastern part of Nigeria, where the government had installed a 2.0MW solar power farm on an expanse of land with some additional diesel generators to charge batteries and at the same time provide alternative energy to critical areas needing power in the same institution.
What a waste of resources; why invest such a colossal amount to buy diesel generators, and fuel same with diesel at a humongous rate of N375/litre (now), for solar power generation of about four to five hours (out of 24 hours) of the day when there’s sunshine and then go back to diesel generator power when disco’s provided power, vis-a-vis battery bank backup power, fails.
Shockingly, the solar power has yet to provide electricity since commissioning in 2016, not to talk of handing the project over to the institution’s authority. Meanwhile, money has been paid for the project.
With the above explanation, I still believe that using natural gas to produce electricity is still the most reliable, dependable, greener, safer and more competitive (cost-wise) when compared with other forms of power generation. And natural gas is available—either through pipeline, liquefied or compressed form—and can be delivered anywhere in Nigeria.
Power generation and supply shouldn’t be as difficult as it was in our early years as a nation; Nigerians must realise that electricity provision is not cheap hence appropriate and commensurate payment must be made for power consumed. That’s the only way to sustain those in the business of power generation and distribution.
Now imagine a government saddle with performance to provide 24/7 electricity for six pilot universities across the nation (one federal university in each …….