Nigeria’s Power Question: Are the old ways the only way?

It is ironic that although power in Nigeria is generated mainly from abundantly available natural sources, there is significantly less power than required to meet basic domestic and industrial needs. This is evidenced by the still epileptic situation of power availability nationwide, the reasons for which are not far-fetched.

While the population increased geometrically in the past decades, little or no commensurate power infrastructure has been built. Vandalism of facilities, inadequate maintenance and improper management have also contributed significantly to impede the development of this very crucial sector. 

This has left many households and businesses with the option of seeking alternatives in the quest for much-needed electric power. Petrol or diesel-powered generating sets (generators) have been the most common option – in fact, they have become a something of a necessity, despite the capital intensive nature of acquisition and maintenance as well as attendant environmental and health risks.

The only other major alternative remains solar, but this is largely under-utilized perhaps because it is erroneously perceived to be expensive, despite many auspicious features. For one, Nigeria’s geographic location within Africa is considered to have the “world’s best solar resources” by the International Council for Science. The sun’s energy is limitless and Nigeria enjoys about 6.2 hours of sunshine on the average, daily. Yet, the same old ways subsist.

Like solar, hydro draws from nature to generate energy. However, while bodies of water continue to flow day and night, solar may not guarantee round-the-clock ‘service.’ To bridge this setback, technology has been developed to ensure power at night; this, in the form of lithium-ion power-storage batteries, to store solar power pending need.

This nullifies the heavy investments in infrastructure required for the transmission of hydro-generated power to end-users over long distances.

And speaking of finances, many ignorantly allude to solar as being pricey; yet solar installations vary, and so come in prices that are actually as affordable or in competition with generating sets.

In all, Nigeria has the environmental conditions to reap immensely from renewable power sources such as solar. Solar can be privately, industrially and commercially deployed. Solar can, in fact, also be connected to a country’s electricity grid. 

These benefits make solar a strong new alternative and perhaps a practical solution to the power situation in Nigeria.