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NASENI Begins $325.8m Solar Cells Plant Project

NASENI Begins $325.8m Solar Cells Plant Project

Olaoluwakitan Babatunde

The Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI), Prof. Mohammad Sani Haruna yesterday disclosed that the agency has embarked on a $325,860,690 Solar Cells Production Plant to make power cheaper and affordable.

Haruna revealed this during the foundation laying for NASENI Solar Cells Production Plant in Gora, Nasarawa State, done by  Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

He said the plant is a game changer in the nation’s energy sector. Haruna said although the agreement for the production plant was initially signed in July 2013, the intervention of Osinbajo made the project to take off.

The NASENI boss said the agency’s goal was to use science, technology, innovation, and engineering to advance local content interventions in power sector reforms.

He said the commencement of the plant signaled the implementation of one of the three projects contained in the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between NASENI and the China Great Wall Industry Corporation (CGWIC).

Haruna said: “The cost of solar energy is still beyond the affordability of an average Nigerian hence the necessity of this project. When fully commissioned, the price of per watt of solar power supply will be cheap enough to be affordable to everyone and it is a game changer in energy and power supply industry as well as industrial development of Nigeria.

“This production and research plant consists of four main production sections on a 15.8 hectares of land which are (a) Polysilicon section of 1,000 ton per annum; (b) Ingot of 50MW per annum;(c) Wafers of 50MW per annum; and (d) Solar cells of 50MW per annum

“It will cost a total of $171,970,000USD with 85% funding equivalent of $146,174,500USD support from China Africa Development (CAD) fund through the Bank of China and 15% local counterpart funding, equivalent of $25,795,500USD from Nigeria.

“The other two projects are Electric Power Transformer Production Plant at $123,990,000USD and High Voltage Testing Laboratory at $29,900,690USD. The total cost approved for the three projects is $325,860,690 and a total of $276,981,586.5 representing 85% is from China. The 15% counterpart for the three projects is $48,879,103.5 and NASENI has installmentally remitted up to 46.89% or $22,921,505.40 of the 15 percent ($48,879,103.5).

“Excess capacity of polysilicon and future expansion of wafers and solar cells production will lead to exportation for foreign exchange earnings.”

Haruna commended President Muhammadu Buhari, who is the chairman of NASENI Governing Board, for according the agency a new status which has fast-tracked its innovations. He also thanked Vice President Yemi Osinbajo for making the plant project a reality.

He added: “This singular project has the capacity to positively change the energy status of Nigeria, the region, and the continent of Africa, since it is the first of its type.

“The agreement to establish this production plant was initially signed in July 2013 and was renewed in 2018 after surmounting various frustrating obstacles and bureaucratic bottlenecks that almost led to the termination of the project.

“This foundation laying ceremony ten years after, is worth celebrating. But I think the Chief Celebrant today and on this project is, His Excellency, the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo himself because of the role he played to secure the buy-in and approval of the National Economic Council (NEC) under his Chairmanship, on this and other projects of NASENI.

“On many occasions of the proceedings of NEC and on my one-on-one with His Excellency, the Vice President, he has encouraged NASENI to prioritize and invest the limited resources on solar energy and to ensure the success of this project due to the envisaged positive impact on energy security, mitigation of climate change and the overall economic development of Nigeria.”

He said President Buhari and NASENI were still “quite uncomfortable with status of energy supply in Nigeria and have embarked on the use of science, technology, innovation, and engineering to advance local content interventions in power sector reforms.

“Our intervention using different products of solar energy alternative and climate smart solution, was carefully thought out with identified phases from ideation to commercialization.” The VP congratulated the government and the people of Nasarawa State, as well as the NASENI leadership, on behalf of President Buhari, who is the Chairman of the governing board.

Osinbajo expressed optimism that the NASENI Solar Cells Production Plant will meet and surpass all our expectations when it becomes fully operational.

The VP said: “This landmark achievement places Nigeria within the ranks of countries pushing the boundaries in the use of climate-smart alternative energy sources, particularly solar power. And as we have heard, this particular project is building on 10 years of work. 10years ago, NASENI established its 7.5mw solar panel production plant. Its capacity is now 21MW.

  “NASENI’s   solar cell production factory in Nigeria will be a game-changer, given the urgency of climate action today and the importance of developing African green energy manufacturing and solutions.”

 The VP, who linked the historic development with the Federal Government’s proactive steps in ensuring adequate funding for NASENI, stated that this is a new dispensation for the government agency.

 With one per cent allocation from the federation account annually as prescribed by its founding law, Osinbajo was of the view that NASENI has been given the financial backing to “execute its mandate of delivering technological and innovative interventions across critical sectors of the economy, including Agriculture, Health, Defence and Security, Power and Energy, Financial Services, Solid Minerals, Additive Manufacturing, Smart Fabrications, Factories, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, and Virtual Manufacturing.”

 He added: “For over 10 years, NASENI has been consistent in championing solar power as an alternative to hydro and fossil power sourcing.  And it was to this end that the agency established NASENI Solar Energy Limited (NSEL) in Karshi, Federal Capital Territory, with a mandate to deliver alternative solar energy to homes and businesses in Nigeria.

 “The development and maturity of the NASENI Solar Energy Ltd whose operations have been driven with the vim and zest of a tech start-up, forecasted an increase in local content of the solar energy production system in Nigeria, leading to ever-increasing production of solar cells.”

 Pointing out that $50 billion worth of diesel fuel is used yearly, with diesel generators producing more energy than the entire energy grid in 17 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, Osinbajo said, “the resultant emissions of carbon monoxide has since become a major and worrying source of pollution. In Nigeria, for example, generator emissions are equivalent to emissions from all of the country’s 11 million cars put together.”

Emphasizing that this method was clearly unsustainable and required a significant shift, the VP stated that this was the reason why Nigeria developed its Energy Transition Plan, the first in Africa.

 According to him, the Plan, which was approved by the Federal Executive Council last year “sets out our pathway to decarbonization by 2060 and achieving universal energy access by 2030.”

  The VP adds: “Not only is the beneficiation model it has adopted innovative and consistent with the African Union’s energy transition plan in the face of global warming, its output, at full operational capacity, will further impact the solar energy value chain in Nigeria through the low production costs of solar panels. 

“In due course, this will in turn attract new investment, local and foreign, for the establishment of solar panel manufacturing plants across Nigeria.”

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