15 October 2009 – Nigeria is increasingly looking towards renewable and alternative sources of power such as solar and wind power.
The definition of renewable energy, according to the Director-General of the Energy Commission of Nigeria (ECN), Professor Abubakar Sani Sambo, includes solar, wind, hydro, oceanic, geothermal, biomass, as well as all other sources of energy that are derived from sun energy. Energy derived from the sun is by definition entirely renewable and exists in various forms including electricity, hydrogen, fuels, thermal energy and mechanical force.
Broadly speaking, renewable energy is derived from non-fossil and non-nuclear sources in ways that can be replenished, are sustainable, and have no harmful side effects. In order for an energy source to be wholly renewable its harvesting, conversion and use must also occur in a sustainable manner and avoid negative impacts on the viability and rights of local communities and natural ecosystems.
The ECN has two renewable energy centers operating under it auspices – the National Centre for Energy R&D (NCERD) at Nsukka and the Sokoto Energy Research Centre (SERC) which have mandates to carry out R&D, manpower development dissemination and promotion of renewable and alternative energy technologies. The most prominent source of renewable energy in Nigeria is currently the Solar Energy Project with over 200 installations throughout the country and capacities ranging from 3.5 to 7.2 kWp. These installations, most of which are located in the Northern states, produce energy or power for rural communities which is in turn primarily used for refrigeration, lighting in some rural clinics, village and domestic lighting, rural TV viewing and experimental room air conditioning.
Over the last decade, several state governments, especially in the Northern states, have made increased efforts to electrify their rural communities through the use of solar energy projects and multilateral investment. For example, China has recently offered to enter into agreement with some state governments in Northern Nigeria and execute solar-powered rural electrification projects. Other financiers assisting in enhancing the use of renewable in the region include the Solar Electric Light Fund and USAID.
According to ECN renewable energy technology developments in Nigeria are mostly limited to solar initiatives in the Northern States such as solar crop dryers, solar manure dryers, solar cookers and solar water heaters. However wind energy has now also been added to the mix with the installation of wind-powered water pumps in some Northern states as Nigeria looks to make the future of its energy sector sustainable.