July 21, 2024
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Crafting a better energy policy: The need for a convergent approach to renewable energy in Nigeria

Following President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s May 29, 2023, announcement ending petroleum subsidies, I examined the bold reforms and public expectations. One year later, Nigerians face surging inflation, driving up food, transportation, and essential commodity prices.

In response, the federal and subnational governments have implemented palliative measures, including compressed natural gas (CNG) buses and renewable energy technologies. These actions suggest that Nigerian policymakers are prioritizing the transition to sustainable development.

The attempted shift to cleaner and renewable energy in Nigeria is however, driven primarily by the urgent need to address the country’s energy supply challenges rather than climate concerns.

In addition, renewable energy technologies are becoming increasingly cost-effective, making them a more attractive option for reducing energy costs. This is particularly important for a country like Nigeria, where energy costs are a significant burden on the economy – estimated at ₦5.4Trillion by the end of 2024, according to a leaked document.

The importance of a convergent policy approach

While these measures are primarily aimed at cushioning the impact of the subsidy removal, they highlight the need for a more comprehensive and well-crafted energy policy that prioritizes the adoption of cleaner and renewable energy technologies.

The current energy policy in Nigeria is fragmented and lacks a convergent approach that integrates energy, industrial growth, environmental, and information dissemination policies. In states deploying CNG or electric tricycles, recharge and refuelling stations are insufficient.

Although the Presidential CNG Initiative, along with industry players like NNPC Limited and NIPCO, has announced the inauguration of CNG stations nationwide. However, CNG conversion and refuelling stations currently remain limited to major cities in Nigeria.

Nigeria is a country endowed with 209 TCF of gas reserves, approximately 24 GW of large hydro potential, and significant solar irradiation ranging from 1,600 to up to 2,200 kWh/m² in the northern region.

As such, Nigeria is well-positioned to spearhead a sustainable energy revolution in Africa. The country already has a plethora of policies, roadmaps, and entities aimed at having direct and indirect bearings on sustainable development. Key initiatives include the Nigeria Energy Transition Plan (ETP), Nigeria’s home-grown strategy targeted at achieving net-zero emissions in the nation’s energy consumption by 2060.

Closing the gaps along the path of transition

Several key issues affect the adoption of renewable and cleaner energy in Nigeria, including:

  1. Policy Coordination: Energy policies often span multiple ministries and agencies, causing overlapping efforts and counterproductive outcomes. It is hoped that the new leadership of the National Council on Climate Change (NCCC), will provide more effective direction for addressing climate change issues. To ensure accountability and role clarity, oversight and implementation functions need to be separated.
  2. Developing integrated plans: Policymakers must consider the entire ecosystem—generation, distribution, and storage. Without the necessary infrastructure, clean energy adoption will be limited, as consumers may hesitate due to concerns about availability and convenience. Investing in clean energy technologies without thorough assessment and supporting infrastructure can result in inefficient resource use and poor outcomes, as seen with the 10MW Wind Farm in Lambar Rimi Katsina.
    1. implementable. The recent actions of some states indicate that they are not aligned with the existing National energy agenda. In a remote area of Edo State, a collaborative effort involving the Nigerian Rural Electrification Agency (REA), the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), and local farming communities resulted in the implementation of a solar mini-grid solution. This initiative has significantly transformed palm oil processing, enhancing both quality and yield by 40%.

    Indeed, in the pursuit of sustainable energy solutions, policymakers face a complex landscape. The interplay between technological advancements, environmental concerns, and economic realities demands thoughtful planning and decisive action. As ancient Chinese wisdom teaches us, the actions we take today shape the future we create.

    Let’s join hands to plant the seeds of a better energy policy, nurturing a greener, more resilient world for generations to come.

    This article was written by Fahd Isa, an energy policy analyst with experience in the energy sector and a keen interest in a just energy transition, originally published on Nairametrics

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