GEF, UNDP, Collaborate with ECN, Others to Build Capacity in Nigeria’s Renewable Energy Sector

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Nigeria has a huge dependency on fossil fuel for energy that is worrisome, little is generated from hydro with no on-grid supply from renewable/solar energy sources because of lack of technical capacity in its development, and management. Now, there is a grand project by development agencies in collaboration with the government to train technicians for sustainable development and management of renewable energy in the country. Bennett Oghifo reports

The Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) through the Energy Commission of Nigeria (ECN) and other stakeholders worked recently on a project titled “De-Risking Renewable Energy NAMA for the Nigerian Power Sector.”

As part of the activities of the project, an international Consulting firm, Renewables Academy (RENAC) was engaged to carry out a “train the trainers programme for technical Staff of Lagos Energy Academy, National Power Training Institute (NAPTIN), the Energy Commission of Nigeria (ECN) and other relevant stakeholders. The programme took place from March 25–April 6 at the Lagos Energy Academy, Ikeja, Lagos.

The UNDP-GEF De-risking Renewable Energy NAMA for the Nigerian Power Sector Project was done in collaboration with Lagos Energy Academy, ECN and NAPTIN.

Train – the – Trainers programme was on Design, Installation, Operation and Maintenance of Grid-Connected Solar- PV for Renewable Energy (RE) Development in Nigeria.

According to Engr. Isaac Ierve, National Project Coordinator/Manager, UNDP-GEF De-risking Renewable Energy Project, this was to enhance their capacity to deliver renewable energy (RE) trainings on the installation of medium to large-scale grid connected PV systems to independent power producers (IPPs), Undergraduate students and public institutions on a cost-recovery basis.

Ierve said the Nigerian Electricity Industry (NEI) is dominated with fossil –fuel power plants and less than 30% of large-scale hydropower plants.Currently, there is a strong drive by Nigeria to improve electricity access and reduce GHG emissions through the exploitation of renewable energy sources, like solar.

He said one of the challenges militating against large-scale grid-connected renewable energy development is the limited local human and institutional capacities to build, operate and maintain large-scale grid-connected renewable (like, solar) power plants.  As a result, renewables have not been able to compete with fossil fuel – based generators. It has therefore become necessary to create the enabling environment through building technical capacity of key players across board.

“Currently, there is limited human capacity in the planning, implementing, monitoring and evaluating renewable energy projects; hence, the project (UNDP-GEF De-risking Renewable Energy NAMA for the Nigerian Power Sector) seeks to address the challenge of limited human capacity in the area of renewable energy development.

“To start with, the Lagos Energy Academy (LEA), the National Power Training Institute (NAPTIN), the Energy Commission of Nigeria (ECN), as well as the representative of a private solar developer were identified to have the potential to deliver renewable trainings to Independent Power Producers (IPP), undergraduate students and public institutions on cost recovery basis.”

He said, “It is believed that when technical officers from these institutions are trained, they will in-turngradually take over the responsibility of providing technical assistance (installations, operation & maintenance), training and advice to IPPs to ensure that the project is sustained after completion.”

Training Objectives

The main objectives of the train – the – trainers are to: Build local capacity in Nigerian Engineers and technologist, who will in turn support large-scale Solar PV industries; Build local capacity in thedesign, construction and maintenance of on-grid solar PV to support the integration of renewable electricity into the grid; offer medium-to-large-scale solar PV safety and commissioning standard training that will focus on the prevention of unnecessary damage to equipment and persons during large-scale PV installations and operation; and train Nigerians on solar PV Troubleshooting and Maintenance services to support local On-grid or large scale PV industry, improve local O&M skills and mitigate resource and technology risk.

Those who participated in the training programme were private stakeholders that have interests in large-scale (On-Grid) renewable energy development in the Nigerian power sector.

The criteria are institutions that have mandate to build human capacity for the Nigerian Electricity Industry (NEI);

Institutions that will serve as train the trainers, who will in turn offer technical services to Solar-PV industries in Nigeria using cost-recovery approaches. The training took place from Monday 25th March to 6th April, 2019.

The first RENAC trainer Frank Neumann covered the following topics: Site survey, design, sizing, documentation from the installer’s perspective; Hands-on installation of all major components (electrical & mechanical); Inspection, Testing & Commissioning.

He presented an overview of large scale grid-connected solar PV system types and components on Monday, 25th March, 2019. From Tuesday 26thMarch 2019 to Thursday 28th March, 2019, participants were exposed to the following practical installation work: Participants decommissioned the PV arrays installed at Lagos Energy Academy for the Training; Participants  installed  PV mounting structure; Participants Installed mechanical components and fixed  PV modules to mounting structure; Installation of electrical components such as; Module wiring, isolators, combiner box and inverter; Inspection and testing of the components; and the grid-connected installation was interconnected to the local electricity supply from at LEA’s standby generating set. The connection was tested and it worked well.

The first trainer rounded up his presentation with theory in the classroom on Friday 29th March, 2019.

The second trainer Frank Robens commenced the training on Saturday, 30th March, 2019 until Tuesday, 2nd April, 2019.

He trained participants on project development and financial evaluation; EPC obligations: scope of work, acceptance tests, guarantees; Operation & Maintenance: scope of work, analysis of operational data; compiling a bankable energy yield study; and fundamentals on installing variable renewable energy systems into the grid.

The third RENAC trainer Dr. (Mrs.) Emilienne Tingwey started on Wednesday 4th April until 6thApril. The training covered: didactical workshop: learning process, feedback, facilitation, methods, planning; planning and delivery of own training session including peer review; participants delivered 30 minutes prepared sessions as part of training practice from 5th – 6th April, 2019 and feedback was provided by the Trainer.

The training ended with presentation of certificates by the Project Manager Engr. Isaac Ierve on behalf of UNDP/GEF De-risking renewable energy Project on Saturday, 6th April, 2019. Ierve said the programme was very successful, as trainers delivered excellent training seminars in demonstration to the knowledge they acquired. This has gone a long way in achieving the objective of the UNDP-GEF de-risking renewable energy project “Nigerian Engineers are capacitated to deliver renewable energy (RE) trainings to independent power producers (IPPs), undergraduate students, and public institutions.” The trainers should impact the knowledge acquired to others, Ierve said.