Election win spells good news for wind

NIGERIA: Development of renewable energy in Nigeria could be pushed to the top of the country's economic agenda in the coming months following the re-election of President Goodluck Jonathan.

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Ahead of his re-election in late April, Jonathan committed to prioritise generation of additional electricity, including 200MW from wind by the end of 2012. He pledged to complete at least one government-funded wind project as Nigeria gears itself to generating 1.1GW or more from renewable sources by 2014. The country expects to increase its total electricity generation capacity to 6GW by 2014 - up from the current 3.6GW.

Top of the list of renewable energy projects is the government-funded 10MW Katsina wind farm slated for completion by 2012. Plans have also been finalised for constructing wind farms on sites in Lagos, Jos and Sokoto with a total capacity of 190MW. Their development would be fast-tracked through the Presidential Task Force on Power, which was formed last June.

Lobby group the Manufacturing Association of Nigeria is finalising the construction of a 30MW wind power project to generate electricity for the manufacturing industry in Kano state. The project will involve 37 Vergnet GEV MP C 275kW wind turbines.

In the long term, Nigeria plans to invest US$10 billion a year through public-private partnerships to develop electricity generation, distribution and transmission. It is estimated that Nigeria spends US$13 billion a year to generate electricity from fueland gas-powered generators, which adds more than 40% to the cost of goods and services in the country.

"This we can ill-afford and therefore Nigeria has to reach power reliability and sustainability within the shortest possible time so as to catalyse the much needed development," President Jonathan said in April. He also said that independent power producers (IPPs) would play a crucial role in harnessing electricity generation from renewables. He promised to open up the electricity generation and transmission business to private investors and streamline energy investment policy to facilitate an increased role for them.

Polcies to harness the potential of Nigeria's renewable energy were developed in August, including finalisation of the World Bank partial risk guarantee for the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading.

Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading was formed in October to buy electricity generated by IPPs on behalf of state distributers until the IPPs are credit-worthy because they are heavily indebted.

The bank's guarantee aims to attract commercial lenders to providing loans for implementing power projects by assuring repayment in the event that IPPs default due to political, economic and financial risks.

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