Dubai Developer to Build Three 100-MW Solar Microgrids in Nigeria

Nov. 3, 2016
A Dubai-based developer plans to bring three 100-MW solar microgrids to Nigeria, a country where some villagers pay electricity costs 60-80 times that of New Yorkers – if they have power at all.

A Dubai-based developer plans to bring three 100-MW solar microgrids to Nigeria, a country where some villagers pay electricity costs 60-80 times that of New Yorkers – if they have power at all.

Phanes Group announced today that it will install the first of the solar microgrids in Sokoto in 2018 and the next two in the Mando area of Kaduna and Birnin-Kebbi in Kebbi by the end of 2019.

The international solar developer, investment and asset manager says that the solar microgrids will contribute to the Nigerian government’s goal to generate 2,000 MW from renewables by 2020.

Compared to other West African countries, Nigeria’s electrification rate is relatively high. But still only about 55 percent of Nigeria has access to electricity, according to the World Bank. The number of those without electricity is sizable, considering that Nigeria is the seventh largest country in the world, with a population of about 187 million.

A report this year by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) found that Africa’s poorest pay among the world’s highest prices for energy. The report, “IRENA (2016), Solar PV in Africa: Costs and Markets,” cited a village in northern Nigeria that spends around 60 to 80 times more for each unit of useful light than those in New York or London. Meanwhile, costs for utility-scale solar PV projects fell in Africa by as much as 61 per cent since 2012, according to IRENA.

The Nigerian government has set a goal to connect 75 percent of the nation to the grid by 2020 at a rate of 1.5 million households per year. The government also is pursuing off-grid renewables, like the solar microgrids, as well as wind and hydro to phase out diesel generators.

“Nigeria’s policymakers have worked proactively to address the nation’s immediate and long-term electrification challenges through the introduction of attractive clean energy policies, and we are beginning to see the fruits of those policies,” said Martin Haupts, Phanes Group CEO.

Phanes sees potential in Sokoto, which it says has one of the highest irradiation levels (2210 kWh/m2/year) in the country and 14 recently signed government power purchase agreements with utility-scale solar power developers. Those, alone, will add around 1,200 MW of solar capacity to the grid.

The developer expects to have the 50 MW of its Sokoto microgrid operating as early as the first quarter of 2018, and completed by the end of that year.

The Kebbi and Kaduna solar microgrids will be delivered separately in 2019 under a joint venture between Phanes Group and its Nigerian partners. That brand is called Hasken-Rana, which means ‘sunshine’ in Hausa – one of the most spoken languages in West Africa, according to Phanes Group.

In addition to its lack of electrification, Nigeria suffers from frequent and long outages where the grid does exist. (See graphic below.)

Source: IRENA (2016), Solar PV in Africa: Costs and Markets. Copyright © IRENA 2016

“Despite its challenges, Nigeria’s potential for solar development is unquestionable and from a standing start it may soon emerge as solar leader among its sub-Saharan African peers,” Haupts said. “These new commercially viable projects demonstrate the strength of public, private partnerships whilst setting Nigeria on positive to course greater energy security and economic development – a model for African solar deployment.”

Phanes Group’s is opening a Nigerian office to manage the solar microgrids and serve the company’s broader West African solar interests. Earlier this year, the company also opened an office in South Africa.

“We are wholly committed to realizing Africa’s solar potential which also means identifying ways of utilizing our off-grid and microgrid expertise to light up remote communities too,” said Andrea Haupts, chief operating officer of Phanes Group. “In parallel with our utility scale grid-connected work we will pursue and deploy solar to Nigeria’s rural communities where citizens are being held back by a lack of electrification – helping to transform the lives of millions of Nigerians.”

Established in 2012, Phanes Group has solar investments and developments in Chile, Dominican Republic, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and Sub-Saharan Africa.

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About the Author

Elisa Wood | Editor-in-Chief

Elisa Wood is an award-winning writer and editor who specializes in the energy industry. She is chief editor and co-founder of Microgrid Knowledge and serves as co-host of the publication’s popular conference series. She also co-founded RealEnergyWriters.com, where she continues to lead a team of energy writers who produce content for energy companies and advocacy organizations.

She has been writing about energy for more than two decades and is published widely. Her work can be found in prominent energy business journals as well as mainstream publications. She has been quoted by NPR, the Wall Street Journal and other notable media outlets.

“For an especially readable voice in the industry, the most consistent interpreter across these years has been the energy journalist Elisa Wood, whose Microgrid Knowledge (and conference) has aggregated more stories better than any other feed of its time,” wrote Malcolm McCullough, in the book, Downtime on the Microgrid, published by MIT Press in 2020.

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