Wind Energy in Nigeria: What is happening?



As at March 2021, while the world is talking energy transition, Nigeria's economy is heavily reliant on crude oil and natural gas. In fact, being one of the world largest producers, the country still battles fuel scarcity and only about 40% of the population has access to electricity with many dependent on power generators.


The gravity of this situation becomes even more clear when we considered the industrial sector being impacted because production cost is high. Manufacturers spends about N2 billion weekly on fuelling generators, that is a whooping (depending on today's rate) $5 million. So clearly, there is an energy crisis. This is more disturbing when you begin to read reports of projected population growth, meaning that electricity demand is expected to increase further.


Ideally, to manage these issues, improve energy security and meet climate targets, the Nigerian government is expected to diversify its energy mix; however, the over-dependence on petroleum fuels has hindered the growth of renewables. Research have shown that the Nigerian landscape can be exploited for the generation of large-scale electricity using wind turbines, particularly up north. Yet, the 10MW wind farm at Katsina state is the only wind-to-power project in the books. (The project originally began in 2005 and was to be completed within 24 months but took over a decade with millions of Naira unaccounted for. It is to be commissioned March 2021).


In comparison to other African states, Nigeria is performing very poorly in wind energy development. In July 2014, South Africa inaugurated a 138MW Jeffreys Bay wind farm. Kenya's Lake Turkana wind farm provides '310MW of reliable, low-cost energy to Kenya's national grid'. There are others like Egypt's Gulf of El-Zayt wind farm, the 153MW Adama wind farm in Ethiopia, and the Moroccans 301MW Tarfaya wind farm. It is frankly quite embarrassing that Nigeria has struggled to set up a 10MW wind project for 16 years.



The barriers to wind energy development in Nigeria and recommendations are therefore highlighted below:


the government

This is a big umbrella term for the lack of commitment by the government, absence of incentives and a robust policy framework, which have discouraged the enabling business environment required for wind energy development. Having robust regulatory and legal framework on ground as well as financial incentives such as tax rebates, import duty waivers, subsidies, and interest free loans would motivate investors to look into the wind energy space. More so, minimising the bureaucracy around energy permits and approval would encourage start-ups.


research and development

Obtaining accurate data for research can be quite tasking not to talk of acquiring funds to foster research in wind-to-power projects. Corporate bodies should be encouraged to team up with academic institutions towards funding research. Governmental bodies e.g., NIMET should also do better at making relevant data easily accessible. More so, data from oil and gas companies might be helpful for research as well; hence, they should be cooperative.


the grid

The privileged few who have access to electricity nonetheless suffer power problems most of the time because the Nigerian electricity grid has a weak infrastructure and is poorly maintained (combined with mismanagement and corruption). A crisis occurred in 2015, where only 5 of the 23 power plants in the country were functional. Hence, the question rises as to whether, the electricity grid is able to withstand wind-to-power integration challenges. This is a whole topic to explore, however, refurbishing grid equipment, expanding power lines and increasing the number of substations for bigger capacity, improving protection scheme, including safeguarding measures for security, amongst others are some ways to improve the network.


Theft, terrorism, vandalism are some of the security issues already faced by the Nigeria energy infrastructure and pose enough threat to wind energy development in the country.

security

Theft, terrorism, vandalism are some of the security issues already faced by the Nigeria energy infrastructure and pose enough threat to wind energy development in the country. Hence, there is a need for increased surveillance on electrical infrastructure (as well as digital control monitoring centres equipped with rapid response security personnel).


Last but not the least, widespread corruption....


*drops pen



Further reads:

Wind Power Potentials in Cameroon and Nigeria: Lessons from South Africa

Nigeria electricity crisis: Power generation capacity expansion and environmental ramifications


Credits:

Cover Photo by Shawn Bagley on Unsplash

Tarfaya Wind Farm Photo TedXTarfarya, Wikipedia Commons

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