Nigeria commissions largest grid-connected solar plant

20 Feb 2023
Nigeria commissions largest grid-connected solar plant

10MW plant in the northern Kano state, built by consortium of a local contractor and international partner, will serve industrial complex; Kano project seen as model for further expansion of Nigeria’s clean power generation

President Muhammadu Buhari on January 30 commissioned Nigeria’s largest grid-connected solar power plant. The 10MW farm is sited near the Challawa Industrial Estate, in the Kumbotso local government area of Kano state.

The US$16 million plant was implemented by Haske Solar Company Limited, a special purpose vehicle (SPV) jointly owned by the federal government of Nigeria (80%), the Kano state government (15%), and the Kumbotso local government area (5%).

The solar plant is comprised of over 21,000 solar PV panels, two 6MVA transformers, 52 inverters, and a 12km evacuation infrastructure. The power generated by the plant will serve the Challawa Industrial cluster, electrifying manufacturing and industrial activities under a distribution franchise model.

The Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) – an investment institution that manages excess proceeds from the federation’s budgeted hydrocarbon revenues – was appointed as the project developer.  NSIA awarded the EPC contract for the plant to a consortium that included a local company, Eauxwell Nigeria Limited, and their international partner Greencells Energy Middle East & Africa Ltd.

At the commissioning, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed, thanked the president for his approval of NSIA’s participation.

“The NSIA believes that Nigeria’s renewable energy goals are attainable with consistent investment and development of projects such as the Kano Solar project,” said Mr. Aminu Umar-Sadiq, MD & CEO of the NSIA.  

“The project serves as proof of concept and represents our ongoing approach to supporting sustainable, green, and renewable systems for energy generation and distribution,” he added.

According to a statement from NSIA, executing the project under the 2-year timeline was remarkable given the “significant supply chain challenges in the aftermath of COVID-19.”

EPC contractor Eauxwell Nigeria Limited noted that the plant is a “testament to the capacity of Nigerian companies to successfully deliver projects of such magnitude within budget and on schedule.”

The NSIA plans to become a leading proponent for clean energy development in Nigeria. It intends to launch a Renewable Energy Platform to accelerate its capacity to develop clean energy projects across the country.

Although the Nigerian off-grid solar sector has grown in recent years, there has been virtually no growth in grid-connected solar capacity. In 2016, the government signed power purchase agreements (PPAs) with 14 independent power producers (IPPs) for the construction of about 1.12GW of total installed grid-connected solar capacity. However, none of these plants have been built due to several disputes between the government and the IPPs, including on tariff price and the provision of guarantees to mitigate developers’ risk. There have been recent discussions between the government and the IPPs on re-activating the PPAs; however, no agreements have been announced.

Developing grid-connected solar capacity is a huge part of Nigeria’s decarbonization agenda. The country has pledged to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2060.

The Energy Transition Plan envisions 197GW of grid-connected solar capacity by 2060. This, the government acknowledges, will require an investment of about $90 bn for generation infrastructure only. Transmission and distribution infrastructure will require an added $94.7 bn. Private sector financing is needed to meet these deployment targets; however, innovative business and deployment models – like the distribution franchising being utilized at the Kano Solar Project – are necessary to ensure that projects are feasible under current electricity market conditions.

Energy & Utilities reported this month on a developer of mini-grids in Nigeria that saw profit while commissioning six projects in late 2022.  

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