There are various problems confronting the acquisition, installation and development of solar system
in Nigeria, which need to be addressed if appreciable progress has to be made. These include:
Nigeria is still clarified as underdeveloped country with higher percentage of her
population living under poverty level. This makes ability to acquire solar energy devices which is
still considered expensive, either individually or group of people not easily come by.
Present Level of Research and Development:
In Nigeria, not much research and development have been carried out on PV or solar thermal
energy and associated devices. These devices are yet to become common household commodities
in Nigeria. Their uses are only scantly seen in universities and research centers (10). Hence
availability in Nigerian market of made in Nigeria brand name solar energy PV generating equipment
and accessory is still a dream. This shows that Nigeria has a lot of journey to go (or prospect in
disguise) in the area of solar energy research, deployment and device production.
Lack of Awareness:
Awareness of existence of solar energy as a source of power supply is still very low in Nigeria. Those
that are aware of it thought solar energy can only power few watt of lightning. They are not aware of the
fact that solar PV is in modular form and can be connected in series and parallel to achieve the desired
power output. Solar thermal can produce heat by combining temperature and
mass (water or hydrogen and so on) running into Kilowatt or Megawatt to run turbine that can generate
equal amount of electric power as the existing conventional power supply. It has also been observed
that solar energy awareness is very low in Nigeria. To many Nigerians on the street solar
P.V. application seems more of science fiction than reality
Technology of Equipment And Fabrication:
Presently, neither the technology of equipment nor its fabrication is on ground in
Nigeria, which means that virtually all the solar equipment in the Nigerian market that is of
commercial value are foreign. These make spare parts repair, and sometimes servicing of broken
down solar equipment very difficult. It also create time lag between breakdown period and repairs,
and in some cases repair of equipment are never possible. In the case of inverter, which is at present
widely used in solar hybrid energy supply; whenever it breaks down, it is always referred back to the
manufacturers’ repair laboratory. Most of the available equipment in Nigeria in the area of P.V are
imported into the country by unqualified personals or vendors; the result of this is that equipment which
are technically suitable to Nigerian nation could not be distinguished or certified by them when
importation is carried out.
Environmental Problems and Climate Change:
The world including Nigeria are now seeking alternative energy supply so as to minimize environmental
and other related problems created by conventional energy sources like Hydro, thermal, gas/diesel
and other electric generating sources such as fission or fussion which create more environmental
problems, destruction and risk. Japan, in fact, showed last summer in the early months following the
March nuclear disaster that it could cut its consumption by 15 percent. (11)
This featured in both Agenda 21 and the Climate Change Convention. Some of these negative impacts
from fossil fuels can be remedied to some extent by turning to sustainable energies as alternatives,
especially solar energy.
Government Policy: .
In Nigeria there is no clear policy, investment, task in the areas of renewable energy like in the case of
other energy generating sources like hydro, thermal, nuclear and others. The people in government who
are to make policy and the common man on the street are very much unaware of the existence capacity
of solar energy; many people in these areas assume that solar energy can power only small bulbs and at
most television set. The print media also has not produced enough publicity on the subject matter.It is
evident therefore that the problems of Solar energy in Nigeria though enormous, but can be filtered within
short period if government gives proper attention to research, development, commercialization and
installation of solar equipment through good policy evolution.
Much more individual solar power generating capacity are available in Nigeria but it is limited because it
is observed that most of the buildings in Nigeria are not solar compliance, the few that are so occur by
accident and not by design.
Component failure occurs when a fully installed operational device such as street light or home device
becomes un-operational shortly after installation. Since the process of solar energy is very new in this
part of the world, users get turned off; especially if it does perform up to the years of guarantee which
the equipment is rated With experience, equipment and component failure occur mostly with such ones
that does not carry manufacturers address, hence guarantee.
Cost of generation:
At present, comparing equipment and installation cost of solar energy with other
energy supply sources, solar energy is higher on the short run but, it is however cheaper on
the long run. The result shows that the PV source is more expensive up to 4 years of
installation. This is because solar energy components are vey expensive and they are mostly
imported except the cables and few accessories, and this result also show that beyond 5years
PV power GSM becomes more attractive because of low running cost (12), (13) Higher
percentage of the population in Nigerian are low income earners and cannot afford or acquire
solar power however upper income earners have access to other energy supply sources like
petrol/diesel Gen set, apart from the grid.
The politics behind acquisition and installation of solar energy at both the
governmental and technical level in Nigeria is not encouraging. On the government part there
is no clear cut legislation backing the utilization of renewable energy including solar energy
unlike other power supply sources like hydro, thermal. Government has not at any time
embarked on giant step by installing or acquiring large solar power plants running into
hundred of watts or more as in the case of other installed power supply sources and as
applicable in other countries.
On the Technical side, the electric engineers who are currently saddled with the
problems of design and installation of electricity in homes and industry have not come up
with clear cut design for provision for solar electricity energy installation in new or already
wired buildings, homes or industries.
Research and Development:
In the area of research and development, solar thermal has taken the lead though most
of the achievements have not been commercialized. On the other hand, very few indigenous
research and development has been recorded in the area of Solar P.V.
In the present day Nigeria, there is unhealthy attitude of energy wastage by some
individual and groups. For instance, it is very common with some households to install 500W
halogen security light at the four corners of the premises. This is further complicated by the
installation of numerous energy consuming inefficient equipment inside the rooms of the
same premises. Considering proper stand alone Solar Energy installation, 500W solar power
supply will be enough to power a domestic home when energy saving equipment are
employed. .Most homes and industry in the country still use incandescent and halogen lamp
which generate light and heaters consequently inefficient. Most industries in Nigeria make
use of electric motors. compressors and boilers which are enormous energy consumers and
constitute a great percentage of energy been consumed by industry. Consequently there is a
great potential for saving in industry given the efficient use of these electrical devices (14)
Theft and Vandalization:
Theft and Vandalisation is one of the principal problem facing solar energy utilisation
especially users of P.V. panel. Vandalisation is not prominent in Nigeria because of the level
of awareness and utilization which is still very low, however few cases have been repotted
unlike other African countries.
Prospect for Solar Energy
There are various available opportunities and conditions that favor the installation and
development of solar energy in Nigeria, as evident in table 1 above and few of them were
One of the greatest assets that Nigeria has that can facilitate solar energy generation in
Nigeria is her geographical location in the Globe, that is, in the equatorial region which is full
of large quantity of solar radiation.
Application of solar Energy to Communication and Telecommunication in rural and
remote areas requires no fuel transportation and thus reduce problems encountered including
that of fuel supply to such installation; on the long run it is also economical
In Nigeria less than 20% of 140 million population is connected to the national
electricity grid. (7) posited that 10% of urban population and 5% of rural population of
Nigeria have access to the National Electricity Grid. Going by that submission, it is clear that
solar energy installation and utilization in Nigeria is at very low ebb. This implies that prospect for solar energy demand and utilization is great in the near future if developed for domestic and industrial application.
Inability PHCN To Meet Demand:
The mirage of problems encountered by Power Holding of Nigeria (PHCN) resulting
in her inability to supply the required electricity to the Nigerian Nation, due to lower
generation capacity, out dated equipment, and others similar factors inclusive make the
future of alternative (solar) energy is very bright. The installed capacity for electricity
generation, which is 98%owned by the Federal Government, increased by a factor of 6 over
the period 1968 to1991 and by 1991, stood at 5881.6 MW. No further addition to generating
capacity was experienced over the subsequent decade (15)
Some Solution Preferred to Solar Energy Installation in Nigeria
Despite the few problems confronting the development of solar energy in Nigeria, the
prospect is still high if the relevant solutions prefered are adopted.
Affordability and Purchasing Power:
Considering the population of Nigeria and her income distribution, the foremost of the
problem to be solved is affordability. The problem of affordability can be tackle in two ways:
(i) by tax incentive for Nigeria solar generator (P.V) manufacturers or drastic reduction of tax
on imported solar generators, (ii) Government subsidies on solar P.V, solar thermal
generators and all related accessories. In Germany for instance, security and profitability to
the private sector investing in Renewable energy (16) Ability to purchase can be increase
through increase in per capital income, subsidize and tax reduction on imported solar
Taking a holistic view of the situation of things and solar energy use in Nigeria: it
seems right to say that government policies have a lot to do with the level of use of this
energy. Both issues of cost and awareness can be taken up by government policy. (10) The
Federal Government of Nigeria through the Energy Commission of Nigeria has awarded and
installed a number of street light projects throughout state capitals of Nigeria. Also, River
Basin Development Authorities (such as Ogun-Osun River Basin Development Authority
with headquarters in Abeokuta), has awarded and installed numbers of solar water borehole
system through the authority’s states of operation in Nigeria. These projects have created a
lot of awareness among the Nigerian population. The University of Agriculture, Abeokuta in
collaboration with Betamag Engineering and Management Services Nig. Ltd. have over the
years conducted many National and International workshops and seminars with participants
from different walks of life and at the helm of affairs in Nigeria in attendance. All these have
created widespread awareness leading to increase in adaptation of solar energy technology as
an alternative native energy source in Nigeria.
Technology of Installation:
Most houses in Nigeria are connected to the national electricity grid for their sources
of electricity while others employ diesel/petrol auto-generating set. The technology of
energy mix and hybrid is recommended for effective utilization of solar energy system.
Furthermore, the increase of average PV system size may lead to new .strategies like
eliminating the DC-DC converter that is usually placed between the PV array and the
inverter, and moving the MPPT to the inverter, resulting in increased simplicity, overall
efficiency and a cost reduction.
Technology of Fabrication and Component:
Since most P.V. equipment presently available in Nigeria are imported, which makes
the repair of broken down equipment very difficult most especially, A/C inverter system (A/C inverter
system is the interpreter between the DC supply from the PV and the already installed A.C. power
supply from the grid etc). The solution to this is to import service station with the equipment to be
imported, most especially when large consignment is involved. This
is also the solution to the problems of components failure in addition to careful choice component
manufacturer from where the component to be used by installer is imported. Alternatively local design
and production solar energy equipment with locally available components should be pursued.
3.1.2 Preventing Theft and Vandalization:
There are so many ways to protect or be employed to prevent theft or vandalization of
solar equipment. One of such ways is to provide anti theft screws to bolt the frame to the
installation rail during installation. Another way is by coloring and inscribe model and serial
no on the solar panel’s frame. It is obvious that these can not totally prevent theft or
vandalization. A practical way of preventing theft is by putting concrete cement on the frame
of the solar panels when mounting or during installation it, so that whosoever which to
remove the solar panel illegally will end up loosing the solar panels completely..
3.1.3 Identification of good geographical location:
The problem of geography can be solved by integrating the most relevant and
important aspect of solar energy regarding installation, generation in the school curriculum of
the concerned professional like Civil, Surveying, Elect/Elect who are the first contact point
for proponent or users of solar energy. For examples before irradiative equipment that is
installed in a building can receive maximum solar radiation, that equipment or building
rooftop must be placed at certain direction and also inclined at certain angle to the horizontal.
Regular workshop for various professionals will also serve better.