SOLAR ENERGY PLANS

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

As the nation grapples with the realization that billions of dollars have been wasted by opportunistic leaders and companies in the power sector, Niger State announced that it would take care of its own power needs independent of the current national provider, PHCN. Niger State is the largest of Nigeria's 36 states and it recently signed a contract with APE Solar S.A. to set up a solar-power generation plant to provide energy to the state's residents.

This decision to partner with the American firm was a direct response to the nation's inability to provide adequate power to citizens and the fact that Nigeria needs to generate 14-15 gigawatts of power but only has the capacity to generate 4 gigawatts (GW). The contract requires APE Solar to construct a $20 million solar energy plant at the Minna Industrial Layout to be completed by the end of 2008. Initial output will be 2.5 GW this year with an increase to 5 GW in 2009.

I cannot blame Niger State's leadership for turning to solar energy as a means to power the state. Considering the amount of sunshine that Nigeria receives, solar power seems to be the most efficient and probably cost effective means of power generation. In light of the revelations that Nigeria's former president, OBJ, gave $50 million to ghost companies on account of power and the fact that in the past and all the promises that have been made with no result, it is reasonable to expect that the people of that state (and other states) need an independent means of satisfying their energy needs. In fact, this could be the beginning of a transition by more states towards potentially earth-friendly alternative power sources.

CAUTIONARY NOTES..
As there have been numerous contracts in the power sector that failed to result in any substantial change, I hope that Niger State's governor and other administrators took the proper steps in granting this contract to APE Solar. Additionally, I hope that they will do what they can (within the law) to ensure that this contractor meet its obligation to the citizens of Niger State.

In researching APE Solar, I discovered that the company was created in 2006 and that its CEO, Tasos Malapetsas, is a new entrepreneur. I was unable to learn much more about the company or its previous experience in building solar energy plants. Considering this information, I cannot help but wonder how his company won this potentially lucrative contract. Nevertheless, I expect that APE Solar will fulfill its obligations. As there is no evidence otherwise, I assume that APE Solar and Niger's administrators followed the letter of the law in contracting this solar energy plant.

I can't help but wonder if this turn to become independent of the (non-existing) national grid could someday prove detrimental. But for now, I hope that this turn towards solar energy is a turn for the best.


Further reading:
- Power Blackouts Loom Across Nigeria
- Nigeria Power Scandal: Authority Stealing

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20 Curiosities. Add Yours.:

Doja said...

Solar energy plans are nothing new to Nigeria but just part of a long list of energy generation plans that never materialised or failed.
I wish Niger state success but I would not keep my fingers crossed as they might fuss toghter.

Paula D. said...

Interesting! I hope they find a way to make it work.

nneoma said...

just curious - is this the first state-wide effort to provide solar energy to the populace? if so, I think I will err on the side of optimism - except that I googled the company that won the contract and I could not find a company website. that sounds somewhat funny to me. but yeah, i guess desperate times call for desperate measures. but i would like to find out what measures were taken to ensure feasibility and sustainability and also what the longterm environmental impact would be. I would be more optimistic if such an effort was done in concert with reputed international environmental organizations that have had some experience in this arena. in fact in doing so, maybe the Niger state government would not have to foot the bill all on its own. Well, we shall see....

SOLOMONSYDELLE said...

@ Doja: You might be right, but the only solar energy plans I heard of involved smaller rural communities (and one small local government area in Lagos State). I know one of those small areas experienced problems with stolen parts, overloaded circuits. But, other than those, I am unfamiliar with any attempts to use rely on solar energy for a large area such as Niger State. If you have any info, contradicting or otherwise, that could enlighten us, could you please share?

Like you I wish Niger state the best of luck. Thanks!

@ Paula D.: Yes, it would be wonderful if they make it work. What a success story it would be and what a precedent it would be for other states in the country. There are a lot of individuals that have made the switch to solar power for their homes in Nigeria, but one has to be pretty wealthy to accomplish that. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to leave a comment.

@ Nneoma: To my knowledge this is the first state-wide solar energy project. And as for the company APE Solar S.A., like you I Googled the company. I even went further, I called the NJ state department to find information on the comapny (it's CEO is a resident of New Jersey and I assumed that his company was registered there). Well, they weren't able to give me the information I wanted either. And, like I mentioned, it appears that the company is relatively new. Anyway, I can only assume that the company will get the job done right. We are watching.

As for connecting with international encironmental organizations for this project, it is possible that this has been done already. I learned about this project from watching NTA Network news and doing some online digging. If they ahven't made thsoe links, Niger State and APE Solar S.A. will hopefully do so. Thanks for your insightful comments and questions and BTW, I need to contact you. I discovered 2 things that could be helpful to your research. Emphasis on 'could be'. lol!

Waffarian said...

I think the idea is a great one. I have often wondered why the states do not do more in that sector. In one of my fantasies, Delta state has its own power generating plant, and people from all over Nigeria will be flocking there cos we have light 24/7...but back to the subject at hand.

I think the biggest problem with Nigeria is not ideas, cos we have them "full remain", the problem is the way we go about implementing those ideas. Now, they have "announced" that they are embarking on such a large project, worth millions, yet, simple information that should be available for the public is not there. Any serious company would have that project listed on their website with the different stages, projected time schedule, project managers, etc...oh, they did not have a website did they?

hisssssssssssssssssss.

I will be a "doubting Thomas" until I see the people smiling.

TheAfroBeat said...

Have to go with Waffy on this one. Great announcement, great idea, wish them luck, and will keep my eyes peeled.

thanks for sharing!

ababoypart2 said...

The same can be said about my state - Imo. They come up with this grand announcement about building a refinery. I cant remember the company that was a major partner in this venture, but when I 'googled' it at the time nothing showed up. Building a refinery isnt the same as putting up a fence in one's garden. It looks like a trend!

Doja said...

When I was growing up in Kaduna there was a time the state was going to open a solar energy plant, there was also a time they talked about generating energy from household waste and this was also supposed to help with the issue of refuse disposal, none ever happened. These days things are changing in Nigeria and the states are doing things for themselves, but as I said I will definitely not keep my fingers crossed.

guerreiranigeriana said...

yeah, waffarian has expressed it well...i wish and pray for success...and will visualize success but...

..in fact, i should go google tinapa in calabar and follow up with that endeavor...i had started to hear some negative things about it as i was returning to the states...have you heard anything about it?...

NIGERIA POLITRICKS said...

solar energy plant ke?!
Is this a resurrected "term" to misappropriate funds under the guise of generating power supply?
the power situation in Naija is at it's worst. I noticed on my last visit that we used to enjoy 'light' from NEPA back in the days in comparison to what we have now.
And to think that we just had OBJ (Ole Baba Jaguda) govts for the last 8yrs who flushed $15+ billions down the drain and his deep 'owambe' pockets while outsourcing power supply to 'Generator' market vendors, only shows how we have set our nations development time clock back to the old stone age.
Nigeria is now the world capital of Power Generators; or maybe, if this Niger State new energy scam goes through, it would be the world capital of Lip-Service Solar Energy Plant!

nneoma said...

from waffarian - "Any serious company would have that project listed on their website with the different stages, projected time schedule, project managers"...heck all I'm asking for is a company website, a number or something. thanks for the search ssd....

and th cynicism grows...

imnakoya said...

It it interesting to read about this solar power idea, but can it work on such a large scale? - It cost more money to build. There is no talk about transmission of the power...this is one important aspect, - are new lines built or Niger state will rely on the existing ones from NEPA?

Jinta said...

if the niger state idea works, fantastic. i really dont know why we have this centralised behemoth called nepa, or pchn, or itt, or whatever

AnyaPosh said...

I think this a wonderful initiative taken on independently by this state. This is one I thing that is lacking within Nigeria's regional politics; there is a lack of competition between states to increase regional development. Hopefully, Niger state is taking the first step on this road to increased development. If Nigeria state governments can compete with each other in the attainment of higher levels of economic growth then we wouldn't have to blame the federal government for every darn failure in the state. I hope this contract blossoms into another more sustainable avenue of power whose benefits spillover across the nation.

OluwaDee said...

9c move by d niger state govt. lets watch and c where the contract will lead.

Controversial said...

Ho Hum! Solar energy? Yeah right! I won't even go into this, but will simply refer to the comments by imnakoya and the questions he/she raises.

Nonsense and ingredients! (not directed to you, I actually like your blog. Just directed to those who continue to plot to destroy ordinary people in Nigeria).

Beauty said...

Why does "I dey looku, I dey laafu" by Fela come to mind? You need a very large budget to set up a concentrated solar power system including a great deal of land, a steam turbine, an electricity generator, power equipment, and good people. But 1st, full buy-in from the very top. You will need to change laws. The whole process deserves a new blog. (hints & winks :)

Monica said...

Although I support (quite vigorously) the use of solar energy, something is wrong here. Either the numbers are wrong or the project is fake. I have installed solar (PV) and the wholesale cost is around $3-4/watt. Installed off grid systems could be around $10/watt. Meaning $20 million will get you about 2-6 MW of solar, a thousand times less than 2.5 GW.

Concentrated solar power is cheaper, but there have never been any (built or planned) that come colse to 2.5 GW and definitely not for $20 million. For example, Solar One in the US is 64 MW and the project costs were $220-24 million (http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/story?id=43336)

So something is wrong... Maybe you mean MW not GW?

SOLOMONSYDELLE said...

@ Monica: This is exactly why i love blogging. It allows for discourse and the exchange of information from those that are more knowledgeable about a specific topic.

That being said, i went back to check my sources. I got a majority of my information from the Wall Street Journal (the post links to the story I used, so please check it out if you wish). I am very particular about accuracy and did as much additional research to provide detailed info to the readers, so any specific numbers in this post refer to data obtained via research.

Now, if the data provided does not 'hold up to snuff', then it is quite possible that (1) the Wall Street Journal has incorrect information, (2) the project is as you eloquently stated "fake" or (3) the project is real but the financial calculations have been 'padded' to ensure as much extra profit for a couple big pockets.

If one is to believe the estimates you provided, (and I have no reason not to), and if I am to believe that the WWSJ's numbers were accurate 9which I will choose to do), then I, and other frequent readers of this site will likely pick option (c).

Thank you nonetheless for pointing out the inaccuracies in the information shared. I truly appreciate it. If you take a closer look at the comments generated by this post, and the info I shared about the supposed contractor for this project, I think you will see that many things don't add up, hence the suspicion some of us have. Your comment only furthers the questions many of us have. Nonetheless, thanks again for sharing your expertise with us all.

jim said...

This is great information. Free energy that is also free of government taxes! Good stuff!

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