Stakeholders in the power sector have met to deliberate on issues hindering the nation’s renewable energy (RE) sector and draw up standard internally accepted guidelines, benchmark as well as recommend ways the de-risking project can be structured to minimize barriers in the sector.

This was the crux of discussions at a 2-day grid-connected RE investors’ forum under the United Nations Development Programme Global Environment Facility (UNDP-GEF) de-risking RE for Nigerian power sector held in Lagos.

Recall that in June 2017, UNDP in collaboration with national stakeholders in the renewable energy sub-sector launched a GEF-supported project titled ‘De-risking RE National Appropriate Mitigation Action (NAMA) for Nigerian power sector’. Nigeria got this support because the nation lies within a high sunshine belt and thus has enormous solar energy potentials.

In his opening remarks, the director-general of the Energy Commission of Nigeria, Prof. Eli Jidere Bala, said the UNDP-GEF project was geared towards the implementation of policy and financial de-risking instruments aimed at identifying and addressing barriers hindering large-scale renewable energy development in Nigeria.

He said: “Tackling these barriers will result in building a successful first ever Independent Power Producers (IPP) solar PV projects in Nigeria connected to the national grid to serve as a demonstration project that will enable us evaluate the technical, institutional and economic viability of on-grid RE projects in Nigeria.”

The ECN boss represented by the director of renewable energy department of the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, Engr. Abbas Gummi, said the forum would also help in building local capacity to foster rapid adoption and replication of grid-connected solar projects.

He also said the forum which drew stakeholders from the state stakeholders, public service sector, policy makers, investors, regulators and others aimed to identify and sensitise all IPPs with interest in RE development and create a platform for them to deliberate on the issues and challenges hindering their progressing to financial close, equipment procurement and construction as well as recommend ways the de-risking project could be structured to minimize the barriers.

In his remarks, the head of sustainable development unit, UNDP, Mr Muyiwa Odele, urged the stakeholders to frankly discuss their barriers to electricity generation from RE sources and proffer long-standing solutions that would move Nigeria’s RE sub-sector forward to a greater height.

“The focus of this project is that some of you are at an advanced stage of investing in the renewable energy business in Nigeria but you’re having certain challenges so, we’re hoping that you can share some of the challenges with us today, we’ll develop a roadmap and we’ll be able to address it.

“What we’re hoping to do at the end of the day is that all the identified challenges will be put together and will be shared in a meeting with the Minister of Power and Housing. Share your concerns with us and how you think the UNDP working with ECN will help to resolve it,” he said.

In his goodwill message, the Senate committee chairman on environment, Sen. Oluremi Tinubu, said renewable energy had been shown to be much cheaper and more sustainable with a much lower environmental impact than conventional energy technologies, adding the environmental effects, in turn, negatively impact the well-being of the people.

Tinubu who was represented on the occasion by the clerk of the Senate committee on environment, Sani Lawan Gado, restated the law makers’ commitment in enacting and amending subsisting Acts and adopting appropriate policies that would help to reduce environmental pollution and achieve a cleaner and greener economy.

Speaking exclusively to LEADERSHIP, an investor and chief executive officer of Afrinergia Power Ltd, Bestman Uwadia, said the electricity problem in the country was not an alternative energy problem. “It is a complete holistic electricity problem. We generate and we distribute and transmit less; for a country of 200 million people we should be talking of a minimum of 40 gigawatts but we are generating only 4 gigawatts which is actually 10 per cent of what we need today to be on self-sufficient energy in electricity.

“So, renewable in Nigeria is really not an alternative as we see it but a quicker and faster form of putting energy in the grid,” he said.

He noted that though the Federal Government had done a lot to derisk the sector and invite investors to invest in it, the 4-year government transition and consensus agreement of all parties involved in pushing the construction of IPPs still delays the project.

He said, “The Nigerian government has done a lot towards mitigating value in the sector, it is just that the documentation of those processes takes time. But the documents are not executed yet because it’s not only Nigeria-based, we have the World Bank, African Development Bank, IFC and other key actors. And everybody has to agree on a smooth working way and that process is still ongoing.”

Giving the project overview, the project manager, de-risking project management unit, ECN, Engr. Isaac Lerve, said its main was to create favourable policy and regulatory environment for increased renewable energy investments for reduced GHG emissions by applying relevant NAMA methodologies and guidelines in piloting the implementation of privately-owned solar PV plants (totalling 100MW) in the country.

Earlier, the project team leader, Engr. Okon Ekpeyong, said the project was expected to catalyze long-term private investment for on-grid Solar-PV that could generate cumulative direct emission reductions of around 0.57 MtCO2 and indirect GHG emission reductions between 6.61 and 9.72 MtCO2 from utility-scale solar PV plants alone.