Funke Olaode in Ebonyi
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has charged Nigerians to embrace the emerging renewable off grid energy sector, being driven by the Federal Rural Electrification Agency, that is poised to generate significant impact for Nigerian markets, unserved and underserved communities and higher learning institutions.
Osinbajo made this call yesterday while commissioning 2.8MW first solar hybrid power project at Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Ndufu-Alike Ikwo in Ebonyi State under the Energizing Education Programme of the Federal Government, which was implemented by the Rural Electrification Agency (REA). With this integrated off-grid power policy, over 7,700 students and 1,819 faculty staff at FUNAI would have access to clean reliable energy.
Osinbajo noted that Nigeria was undergoing an energy transformation at the moment, “with growing solar generation, in particular, a more decentralized energy system is emerging as we encourage more private sector participation, in collaboration with the Federal Government.”
He further emphasised that Nigeria was at a time of extraordinary opportunity where policies, technologies and markets have been aligned to accelerate the transition to a sustainable energy future, which will have immense socio-economic benefits for Nigeria’s development.”
In her address, managing director/CEO, Rural Electrification Agency, Mrs. Damilola Ogunbiyi commended the collaboration between the Rural Electrification Agency, Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, the Federal Ministry of Environment, the Federal Ministry of Education and the National Universities Commission.
The Energizing Education Programme (EEP), according to her, is a federal government intervention focused on developing off-grid, dedicated and independent power plants, as well as rehabilitating existing distribution infrastructure to supply clean and reliable power to 37 federal universities and 7 affiliated university teaching hospitals.
She said: “This Programme will undoubtedly improve the quality of education, research and health care services at our federal universities and teaching hospitals. I’m proud of the role that women have played in the successful implementation of this project from the Head of project being a women to the female STEM students that all worked on the project.”
Commenting on the federal government’s effort at protecting the environment, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Environment, Odusote Abimbola, noted: “This Programme signifies the commitment of the Federal Government to protecting the environment and reversing the harmful effects of climate change, which is already having devastating effects on our environment. This achievement occurred because government agencies worked collaboratively towards a shared goal of mainstreaming renewable clean energy.’’
On the impact of the FUNAI solar hybrid installations thus far, the EPC contractor and CEO Sterling & Wilson, Deepak Thakur said: “The installed 2.8 MW solar hybrid power plant will decommission petrol and diesel generators with a capacity of 1.54MW, creating a cleaner and environmentally friendly atmosphere for the university community.”
Expressing his intitution’s gratitude to the federal government for its kind gesture in providing comfortable environment for students to learn, FUNAI Vice Chancellor, Prof. Nwajiuba Chinedum Uzoma said it was a privilege that FUNAI is one of the flagship learning institutions paving the way.
Uzoma added: “Our university campus and student life are being transformed every day. Twenty of our female students are among the over 180 participants in the first phase of the EEP STEM Female Internship Programme, which provided our female students with hands-on experience in the design and construction of FUNAI’s solar hybrid power plant and training centre.”
The commissioning culminated in the graduation of the STEM participants who received certificates of completion for their technical and practical training, launching of 7.5 KM of solar powered street lights for illumination and safety, as well as a world class training center for renewable energy.