Power Ministry Goes Off Grid With $2.5m Hybrid Solar Power System

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Stories by Chineme Okafor in Abuja

The Ministry of Power is set to disengage from using electricity from the national grid to power its activities at its headquarters in Maitama Abuja, and subsequently turn to a hybrid solar mini grid network expected to be installed on its rooftop by a consortium, THISDAY has learnt.

The system according to the lead project company – Proserve Energy Services Limited, would cost about $2.5 million to install with a 750-kilowatts (kW) daytime and 75kW night time generation capacity.

It will equally be built with funding from the consortium while the ministry takes electricity from the system over a 10-year period.

Similarly, the ministry would be able to save huge sum from its shift from the grid power supply to the independent mini grid system, been that the tariff for the system would be cheaper than what it currently pays for on grid electricity.

Speaking to THISDAY on the development, the Managing Director of Proserve, Dr. Abba Ibrahim, explained the ministry had asked for proposals from interested operators and investors for the system and Proserve emerged the preferred bidder.

Ibrahim, noted that the process of getting the system ready and operational were in top gear, and that as part of it, the ministry would be expected to provide a commercial guarantee to support its purchase and use of power from the system which would sell its excess load to the Abuja electricity distribution company (Discos).

“The Power House hybrid solar project is a pilot that came out from the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing and the whole idea is to make sure there is a decentralised distributed renewable energy source put into our power mix and this is an excellent opportunity which plugs into the current Power Sector Recovery Plan of the government,” said Ibrahim.

He added: “So, basically what this means is that it is an independent power source but commercial in nature. The Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing quested for an expression of interest sometimes in 2017, it was publicly advertised, and we participated in the bid process and emerged with the best technical submission.

“We are working in partnership with a German company called Soventix – they’ve done a lot of these similar projects on a much larger scale around the world, and they are also working in Nigeria and have delivered successfully some similar projects.

“We are also working closely with Huawei, a Chinese OEM that’s going to provide certain aspects of the equipment like the inverters and combiner systems for hybrid and also Likusasa which is a South African company.
“Likusasa is going to be the installer of this Power House hybrid solution, it will do the construction and also do the operation and maintenance over its lifespan.”

Continuing, Ibrahim, stated: “It is a concession for a 10-year period and we are going to sign a PPA (power purchase agreement). We are going to be providing power that is in excess of what is required back onto the grid.

“So, it’s like a three-way arrangement – there would be power generation from our system for the Power House but if you take for instance, on a Sunday morning when the sun is shining up to Sunday evening and you have power been generated by this solar panels, and the ministry is not operating, what do you do with it.

“So, there is a very clever means, we have a management system that will push that power on to the Abuja Disco network, and it will be metered.”

Ibrahim said the system would guarantee 100 per cent power availability for 365 days without a failure to the ministry. He added that this was part of the PPA.

“By power projects standards, this is a small project, it is just under $2.5 million in terms of overall development cost, but like I said it is a pilot and it is going to generate a pipeline of similar projects that are of equal smaller or bigger sizes but we are envisaging to grow a portfolio of between $30 to $50 million in the next three to four years of such projects. We have already identified quite a number of locations that we’re going to be providing this guaranteed power supply.