Tackling electricity challenges with off-grid solution
Three years after the privatisation of the Nigeria power sector, generation has remained below 5,000 Mega Watts (MW). This energy deficit has hampered economic growth and prevented investments in the country.
The challenges facing the power sector have been attributed to the high debt profile of power firms, unfavourable tariff structure and gas pipeline vandalism.
Experts at the just concluded yearly Power and Utilities Round Table, organised by PricewaterhouseCoopers in Lagos, believed that off-grid and small-scale energy solutions that generate electricity closer to end users will also bolster productive uses of energy and income generation in the country.
Some multinationals and private estates are already off-grid in a bid to provide reliable electricity.
Already, Lagos State Government is exploring the off-grid solution to tackle its electricity challenges.
Partner and lead, Power & Utilities, PwC Nigeria, Pedro Omontuemhen, said: “For the millions of people who don’t currently have access to electricity, the old assumption that they will have to wait for grid extensions is being turned on its head by new technological possibilities
“There are currently 634 million people without electricity in Africa and in Nigeria we estimate that only one in five people has access to power from the electricity grid. This leaves four in five people living in urban and rural communities having to fend for themselves with makeshift and localised power solutions. Faster progress is needed, and we believe it can be achieved if national energy policies adopt a more comprehensive approach to energy access, embracing the new starting points for energy provided by standalone renewable technology and mini-grids.”
Omontuemhen noted: “‘All or nothing’ approaches that focus primarily on the national grid are increasingly out of step to what is now possible in power technology. Advances in technology are rapidly changing the options available beyond the grid.
“Falling solar technology costs have spurred the growth of standalone home systems and are changing the economics of mini-grid systems. Battery storage technology is fast evolving to the point where it is going to play a significant role in utility-scale solar power storage and is beginning to feature in smaller-scale off-grid solutions. Together with access to mobile technology and mobile payment systems for microloans, a new era has arrived for beyond the grid electrification.”