The usage of solar energy is one topic that excites Nigerians now, though majorities see it as a mirage
because of the cost. The reason why some discerning Nigerians are interested in it, of course, is not
farfetched. Successive governments have failed woefully with regards to the provision of regular electricity.
Interestingly, the country has abundant supply of sunshine. On the average, Nigeria has at least eight
hours of sunshine which is the major raw material for an effective solar system.
Still only very few homes and offices use solar energy. From the look of it, it seems a rich man’s game.
Though apart from the cost majority of the people do not even have good knowledge of it.
According to a certified solar designer with the Beebee Jump international Limited, “As a certified solar
designer I am more interested in applying this technology in Nigeria with an abundance of sunlight which
is necessarily the major raw material or component for an effective solar system. With my little research
in Nigeria I have found out that there are lots of factors mitigating against the effectiveness of this more
effective and durable form of power supply in Nigeria.”
As the official of the solar company observed, there is lack of proper knowledge of this old technology
in Nigeria which is being used by other countries with less sunlight which is the fundamental raw material.
“Besides, just like every other sectors in Nigeria there is not enough will/intentions by the government to
propagate and invest in this technology,” he regrettably pointed out.
Pressed further, he said, “There is also a misinformation from the so called solar distributors/companies
in Nigeria. In this regard, let me state here that, solar energy though it is affordable it is not cheap, though
there are lots of research going on to manufacture cheaper solar panels which is the most expensive
component in a solar system.”
Elucidating further, the solar designer stated that “Moreover solar energy for home use cannot be used to
directly substitute your grid electricity like using it for all your home and outdoor appliances or equipment
like your electric stoves, pressing irons, air-conditions, gym equipment etcetera for 24hours, though if you
are ready to spend millions and a large space for your panels it is achievable. But an average home systems
for four-five hours is affordable and very effective.”
In essence the purpose of solar energy is to provide an alternative and long term cost effective source of
power for homes compare to your generators, and for areas where the national electricity grid is unable to
reach. And most importantly to save our environment as it has a zero effect on the environment unlike your
fossil fuels and other carbon source.
However, Mr. Gabriel Okafor, a solar power engineer with the Solar company Dieu Point Device Company
Ltd, while agreeing that the cost may be part of the reason solar usage is not common in Nigeria, however
said that the main reason is lack of knowledge and awareness.
“When you consider the cost of fuel, diesel, pollution and other problems associated with generators, you
will realise that in the long run that solar energy is far cheaper,” he asserted.
“One can have a solar system installed for as low as N100,000 while you can have one that runs into
millions of naira. The main determinate of the cost is the load you want the solar system to carry,” he added.
Explaining further, Okafor said that N150,000 can guarantee solar power for a consumer in one or two
room apartment who uses, four energy or direct contact [DC] bulbs, two DC fans, one DC television.
At that price the consumer can have an uninterrupted supply of light all year round.