Championing new strategy for renewable energy towards achieving ‘Global Goal 7’ target

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the global goals were adopted by all United Nations member states in 2015 as a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity by 2030. In this report, OLATUNDE DODONDAWA examines possible strategy that can be adopted by the Federal Government to meet the 7th item of the SDGs . Excerpt

 

Introduction

THERE are strong indications that the federal government may also miss the deadline for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), also known as the Global Goals, by 2030 except the government demonstrates new strategies and the political will to meet the deadline.

The 7th item of the SDGs otherwise called ‘Global Goal 7’ emphasized access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all by 2030. In modern times, clean and affordable energy simply referred to energy from renewable sources like solar, wind, bio-mass and gas.

Achieving this goal requires combination of gas, wind, bio-mass and solar energy sources, depending on the region to build the power plants in whatever capacity. The federal government developed the National Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Policy (NREEEP) which outlines various policies and programs for the deployment of renewable energy technologies in the country.

The NREEEP targets short term 5MW, 15MW and 117 MW of biomass, wind, and solar (PV and CSP) electricity respectively. Medium term (2020) – 57MW, 632MW and 1343MW of biomass, wind, and solar (PV and CSP) electricity respectively and, long term (2030) – 292MW, 3211MW and 6832 MW of biomass, wind, and solar (PV and CSP) electricity respectively.

Wind energy development in Nigerian is still at an infant stage and the few wind energy technologies found the country are mainly wind mills which are used for irrigation water pumping in some rural communities in the northern regions. Nigeria is yet to start sustainable harvesting of electricity from wind but it’s is worthy to mention that there are two wind farms under construction; 10 and 100MW in Katsina and Plateau states respectively.

Despite the high potential, there is no grid connected solar plant in the country currently. The solar technologies available are few off-gird systems in the rural areas, street lights and few decentralised rooftop solar PV systems. While there is no grid connected solar plant yet, it is worthwhile to mention that the proposed grid connected 15 MW solar PV project of Anjeed Kafanchan has received the Environmental Impact Assessment certificate from the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Environment.

It may be noted that the NREEEP short term targets of 2015 is yet to become a reality in 2020.

 

The role for nuclear energy in Nigeria’s energy mix

When the Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission (NAEC), on behalf of the federal government, signed agreements with Rosatom, a Russian atomic firm, in 2016 and 2017, to build four nuclear power plants and a Centre for Nuclear Science and Technology, respectively, after a decade of developing the framework, many stakeholders were worried and wondered if there will be any role for nuclear energy in the Nigeria’s energy mix as it attempts to attain cheap, clean, reliable and modern energy.

The nuclear project, which is expected to cost about $20 billion and produce 4,800MW of electricity by 2035, will be initially operated by Rosatom before hand-over to the Nigerian government.

Abundant energy that can be deployed affordably is essential for addressing energy challenges in Nigeria. Two clean energy sources, nuclear and solar, have emerged as a revolutionary source for scaling up energy supply globally.

Solar power, on one hand, has become the cheapest and fastest-growing source of electricity since 2011, on account of the surge in Chinese-manufactured silicon solar PV which cut costs by one-third. Nuclear power, on the other hand, supplies at least five times more electricity than solar power.

However, occasional symbolic fallouts around nuclear power raise concern about its suitability, especially for a third world country like Nigeria.

Confidence in nuclear power has been improving due to constant development of safety technologies, including newer designs like Generation IV reactors with design features that take into account the “Fukushima Daiichi lesson”.

Presently, 56 nuclear power plants are currently being constructed in the world today against 449 in operation. In Africa, the only operating nuclear plant is in South Africa, and it produces 1,860MW of power, contributing to four per cent of South Africa’s power capacity. Plans to expand South Africa’s nuclear capacity are however opposed by the country’s Minister of Energy and the Treasury, on the ground of its implications for national debt. However, more African countries like Egypt, Ghana, Ethiopia, Uganda, and Zambia are establishing agreements with Russia State Atomic Energy Corporation (Rosatom) to build nuclear technologies for peaceful purposes.

While nuclear power is relatively more expensive to construct, its maintenance cost is said to be low; as it can operate for about 60-80 years with very little maintenance.  As such, it is argued as being more profitable and cost-effective in delivering power in the long run, relative to other sources including gas and solar.

The prospective nuclear power project for electricity generation in Nigeria has been deemed feasible and safe by several stakeholders. Positive evaluation reports by the Inter-Ministerial Committee on the feasibility of deploying nuclear energy for electricity generation in the country, lead to the activation of the NAEC in 2006. Furthermore, reports by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), following Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR) missions to Nigeria, have been quite optimistic. Several missions carried out between 2015 and 2018 concluded that Nigeria’s emergency preparedness and response framework was consistent with IAEA safety standards.

 

What stakeholders say

An expert in Petroleum Economics and Policy Research, Professor Wumi Iledare, opined that if the present electricity market can be reviewed and power generation, transmission and distribution are decentralised, Nigerians will have access to cheap, clean, sustainable and affordable energy.

According to him, “In my opinion, it is not that the government is not trying but the challenge is the structure of demand and electricity supply industry. The Electric Power Sector Reform Act needs to be revisited. The discos’ current structure will not deliver anything.

In other to have access to stable energy power, the disco must be thoroughly defined. The monopoly structure and the tariff determination must be based on demand and supply. What the government is trying to do by building the Mambilla power project may be able to help.

“Another thing that needs to be done is decentralisation. With the volume of losses that we have in transmission, we need to find a way to not put all the generation capacity into the transmission lines before distribution. That’s why people are talking about mini-grid. We need to regionalise the market, perhaps, based on the nature of the region, vertical integration may be allowed and that will fast-track sustainable energy.”

Furthermore, he argued that globally, the ratio of renewable energy to the global energy mix is inconsequential. So emphasis should be on conventional energy for emerging economies.

“Let us be honest with ourselves, the only high contribution you see today globally is from hydro power. The wind, solar and bio-mass fuel are still emerging, they have not necessarily penetrate the market fully because of technology situation. For us in Africa and the emerging economies, we must talk the talk of renewable energy and we must walk the talk gradually if we do not want to move from energy poverty to economic destruction.

“Again, we have natural gas, and we need to look at it as a transition fuel. Even as the cost of renewable comes down, we cannot just jump because all over the world, there is no place, to the best of my knowledge, if you take hydro power out, in which solar wind and bio-mass fuel are the base load for power generation. You still need fuel source that will be the base and renewable will just be the add-on in my opinion. What we need to address for access in 2030 is to restructure the electricity market, regionalise it, decentralise it and don’t have uniform pricing across the region. Emphasise mini grid and only the surplus from one region will go to the transmission and you can minimize the losses and in the process optimise investment,” he said.

According to Precious Chukwuemelie Akanonu, a Research Fellow, Centre for the Study of the Economies of Africa, the federal government is making frantic efforts to meet the Global Goal 7. She said Nigeria can be a pioneer of climate change policy in West Africa, and another major pioneer in Sub-Saharan Africa.

“However, the stakes are high in deviating from businesses as usual as finance, public interest as well as concerns about distributional effect presents enormous difficulty,” she said.

She said the Nigerian government has shown interest in pursuing a (lower carbon) sustainable development pathway, through its Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC). However, since the Paris Agreement, the Nigerian government has struggled to translate its INDC commitments into actions, largely due to financial constraints, a lack of public support, and concern over its regressive and distributional effects, among others.

“It has been highlighted that achieving Nigeria’s INDC goals will require a quantum leap in investment on sustainable infrastructure and projects, estimated at $5.68 million per year for over 25 years.

Like other developing countries, Nigeria’s government revenues are often insufficient to provide for the basic needs and infrastructure, let alone fund climate change mitigations and adaptations.

“Another critical barrier to climate change action is the concern over the regressive effect of such policies. In most cases, the cost burden of such climate policies does not fall evenly on households.

Low-income households stand to lose a higher share of their consumption than high-income households. The regressive effect of climate policy is a serious concern given that the loss of any given percentage of income is weightier for poorer households, even if they pay less for climate policy in absolute terms,” she said.

However, all Nigeria has at the moment is potential with little efforts to achieve the target of cheap, clean, sustainable, affordable and modern energy by the year 2030.

 

OTC, UAHT to sustain partnership

The Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) will continue its partnership with United Against Human Trafficking (UAHT), marking the sixth year in which the conference supports the sto end human trafficking.

The OTC is the world’s foremost event where energy professionals meet to exchange ideas and opinions to advance scientific and technical knowledge for offshore resources and environmental matters.

Through this partnership, OTC 2020 attendees and exhibitors can learn more about UAHT and the warning signs of human trafficking at their educational booth, located in NRG Center, Level 1, Hall D each day of the conference. In addition, UAHT has been chosen as the beneficiary at the 2020 Distinguished Achievement Awards event scheduled for Monday, May 4, and will receive net proceeds of the event as a result.

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