FG Moves to Streamline Solar Power Operations, Releases Guidelines

Goddy Jedy-Agba

* EU commits €150m to Nigeria’s search for stable power supply

By Emmanuel Addeh

The federal government Tuesday released new guidelines for operators within the country’s solar mini-grid system to ensure strict compliance with local and international standards as well as ensure safety in the sub-sector.

The new rules came as the European Union (EU) said it had in recent times devoted at least €150 million to assist in the country’s search for stable and reliable power supply.

The Minister of State, Power, Mr Goddy Jedy-Agba, who unveiled the manual containing the guidelines, noted that the move was to sanitise the industry and ensure that standards are met by the operators within the industry.

“The importance of this programme cannot be over-emphasised. It aims to address the proliferation of substandard renewable energy materials and equipment, poor designs and construction practices.

“It also tackles the lack of standardisation and uniformity in renewable energy projects and schemes put in place for electricity generation and its sustainability in line with requirements for the existing standards, technical standards and codes.

“It will also serve as a guide to renewable energy installation, contracting and practices. The guidelines will strengthen the enforcement of technical standards and requirements in renewable energy installation especially solar mini-grid installation,” the minister stressed.

Jeddy-Agba also thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for bringing the needed verve in the search for reliable supply of electricity to Nigerians and urged the Nigerian Electricity Services Agency (NEMSA) and its partners to provide the needed training on use of the new manual.

In her remarks, the Head of Section, Economic Cooperation and Energy of the Delegation of the European Union to Nigeria and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Katrine Thomsen, revealed that in the last few years, the EU had invested €150 million in the Nigerian electricity sector.

She said: “Having achieved this great milestone in this sector, the EU seeks to also help tackle other challenges in the mini-grid space.

“As we speak, the team is also working with relevant agencies and departments within the ministry to ensure that the environmental concerns associated with challenges in the mini-grid sites are addressed in the future.

“The monitoring and evaluation framework to track the performance of mini-grid in Nigeria against some key performance indicators is also being developed.

“These NEMSA guidelines are very pertinent in ensuring that all mini-grids in the country are fully compliant with the technical standards and regulations to ensure a safe and reliable operation.

“Finally, I will like to reassure you that the EU will continue to partner with Nigeria by contributing technical and financial support to ensure cleaner and sustainable access both on and off the grid.

“With the current European development funds, which spans 2014 to 2020, the EU has already committed €150 million in funding different energy projects in Nigeria and this could be even bigger in the next programme phase from 2021 to 2027.”

The Managing Director of NEMSA, Mr Peter Ewesor, noted that the essence of the guidelines was to ensure that substandard materials and personnel were weeded out from the industry.

“Solar mini-grid is one of the fastest ways of integrating energy for electricity generation to increase access to rural areas where the grid cannot be extended to.

“In the past, people had disaffection for renewable energy in Nigeria because solar home systems actually become disused because they have not been properly installed and checked.

“In view of the increasing use of poor and substandard materials and equipment, poor design and poor integration of solar system components, lack of compliance with technical standards in the renewable energy space, it has become imperative to develop these guidelines in Nigeria,” he said.

The chief electrical inspector of the federation added that the proper use of the guidelines, particularly by developers, contractors and rural electrification agency will bring stability and safety in line with international best practices.

In his comments, the Head of Unit for Sustainable Energy Access at the NESP, Mr. Carlos Louis-Miro, pledged the support of the body and thanked the partners for the work they put into preparing the guidelines.