Power is the main driver of every nation’s socio-economic development. It is key for development of all sectors of the economy.
However, most developing countries are still battling with power generation. In the case of Nigeria most of the rural dwellers are not captured on the national power grid which leaves them to generate and provide their basic power supply need.
With the growing effects of climate change the world is looking for more sustainable ways of generating power hence turning to renewable energy to generate power for its populace. In this regard, Nigeria signed the Paris Agreement in 2015 to reduce its Green House Gas emissions under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). To meet its 20 per cent unintentional and 45 per cent intentional nationally determined contributions (NDCs) a lot of projects were launched to help the nation in this regard.
One of such projects is the United Nations Development Programme Global Environment Facility (UNDP-GEF) De-risking Renewable Energy Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action (NAMA) for the power sector launched in 2017, a five year project billed to end in 2021, with the overall objective to assist the government in achieving transformation in the electricity mix such that at least 20 gigawatts (GW) of Nigeria’s electricity is generated from solar photovoltaic (PV) by 2030.
With the project, sponsored by GEF, implemented by the UNDP, and housed at the Energy Commission of Nigeria (ECN) nearing the end of its timeline, the UNDP-GEF and the Energy Commission in collaboration with relevant ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), mini-grid developers, DISCOs and development partners/donors organised a three-day stakeholders’ workshop on public presentation of the key achievements of ‘De-risking renewable energy NAMA project in Nigeria’ in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
In his welcome address, the ECN director-general, Prof. Eli Bala, said the UNDP-GEF project is geared towards the implementation of policy and financial de-risking instruments aimed at identifying and addressing barriers hindering large-scale renewable energy development in Nigeria.
Bala who was represented by the national project director of the UNDP-GEF, De-risking Renewable Energy, NAMA, Engr. Okon Ekpeyong, said the original plan of the project was to tackle the barriers to create enabling environment for private investors to build the first ever IPP solar PV project in Nigeria connected to the national grid to serve as a demonstration project that would enable the country evaluate the technical, institutional and economic viability of on-grid RE projects in Nigeria. It would also help in building local capacity to foster rapid adoption and replication of grid-connected solar projects.
“To this end, several activities were carried out as part of the implementation of components 1 and 2 mentioned earlier: several studies were conducted to guide the development of policies and institutional framework to catalyze private investment in on-grid renewable energy project in Nigeria. Consequently, remarkable achievements and success stories have been recorded, especially in the aspect of developing policy and institutional framework as well as de-risking analysis for catalyzing private sector investment in on-grid renewable power generation. Specifically, the project has produced: Three technology action plans (TAPs); measurement, reporting and verification (MRV) including grid emission factor for the power sector; Nigeria GIS-Web based renewable energy (RE) tool; compendium of renewable energy investment incentives and financial sector reforms etc.
“To move forward and implement the recommendations provided in these reports, there is a need for greater involvement of the various stakeholders identified in the reports. Therefore, this Workshop is one of the first steps involving bringing all the various stakeholders to a common forum to synthesize the issues raised in the reports, thereby, chart out the future of renewable energy in Nigeria’s power sector. Also, the Workshop is to create opportunity to present some of these policy documents to stakeholders and seek their buy-in, while brainstorming on the possibilities of mainstreaming same into national development strategies and plans,” he said.
In his goodwill message, the team head of the environment and climate change (ECC) unit of the UNDP Nigeria, Mr Muyiwa Odele, said the project looked at some of the barriers and challenges in the sector with a view to positioning stakeholders to give policy recommendations on the future of renewable energy in the country, adding it is hoped it would prepare the ground for future engagements in terms of reaching financial closure in the sector.
Speaking exclusively to Science Nigeria, the desk officer, climate change and environment, National Orientation Agency (NOA), Mrs Stella Oneli, urged government to provide enabling policies that would ensure a level playing ground in the sector, saying they should also be assisted to reach financial closure because that is the major risk which de-risking could address. Giving out soft loans, grants and green bonds, she stated, would go a long way in facilitating the process.
Similarly, the chief internal auditor, Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading (NBET) Plc, Sambo Abdullahi said the project was trying to develop a template to make the developer comfortable.
“It is a work in progress that needs to be well finetuned in the workplan in terms of setting a strategy, template and time lines which are achievable and realistic which will help us achieve more based on what we have done so far.
“The whole concept of the power sector is risk allocation, by de-risking it is like sharing the risk which makes the developer or prospective investor more comfortable and easier to execute the projects,” he added.
Earlier, the national project manager, UNDP-GEF, De-risking Renewable Energy, NAMA, Engr. Isaac Ierve, averred it is important to de-risk because a lot of risks are inherent in the power sector that have prevented private investors from going forward in actualizing their plans for renewable energy in the country. So, because of that it is good to identify those risks and proffer solutions to them so that progress could be made in that area.
“In carrying out this project it has been able to carry out de-risking analysis which has identified a lot of risks and has made recommendations that if mainstreamed in government policies will help both government and the private investors to move forward. The project has also trained some young Nigerians in the area on capacity building on on-grid solar electricity installation, maintenance.
“It also serves as a sort of sustainability in terms of applying this knowledge garnered whenever a solar electricity installation project is on ground. The project has also created a lot of awareness in the area of renewable energy sector specifically on solar PV,” he added.