Inspirational and Socio-Political Blog.

Monday 23 May 2011

PHCN: Increasing Power Generation In Nigeria Through Solar Energy (FIT)

I have worked within the energy industry for a few years now and paid close attention to how the Solar Photovoltaic (PV) works for the generation of electricity. I have also attended some trainings and worked closely with the micro renewable team and observed the installation process. I find the process very insightful, I am also fascinated by the UK Government’s high level of interest in the Photovoltaic (PV) and the Feed in Tariff (FIT) initiative. I feel it will do well if the PHCN look at a way of implementing similar process in Nigeria to boost and increase our much needed power generation. This is a very interesting initiative, such that people can generate electricity themselves through their solar panels mostly installed on their roof, within the comfort of their homes, they enjoy the free electricity and still get paid for what they have generated through FIT and Export Tariff fed to the nations grid.
Photovoltaic (PV) is a way of generating electrical power through the process of converting solar radiations into direct current electricity using semiconductors that exhibit the photovoltaic effects. The generation of Photovoltaic power uses Solar Panels composed of several cells with photovoltaic materials.  PV Panels have gone through considerable transformation through series of developments over the years and many countries are making use of its benefits to boost their electric generations. This technology is now reputed to be the fasted growing electric generation in the world, currently adding almost 25GW and yet still growing, to the 4.8 TW total global power-generating capacities. Nigeria can only boast of less that 3.5GW out of the estimated 7.5GW demand needed to keep the country running efficiently, so the need to have other cheaper and easier method of generating electricity is worth our consideration.
Most of us are already familiar with the solar power technology through the use of calculators and adding machines with solar cells, these calculators do not use batteries, and in some cases don’t have off button, which means they work forever as long as there is light. You also might have noticed or seen larger solar panels in street lights and emergency road signs. The attractive aspect of PV effect is that as long as there is light, the technology will continue to work. Nigeria is blessed with abundant sun, 365 days a year because of our geographic location and would benefit immensely if the PV effect is implemented.
With the current trend in the UK, the solar panels can be installed by the energy company for free and the company remain the owners of the solar panels for 25 years. During this period, they earn income from the governments through Feed in Tariff and the Export Tariff initiatives. These panels are normally installed on the roof of the property and how many panels installed is dependent on the size of the roof, they mostly appear in dark blue colours. Individual can also buy the solar panels themselves and get private companies to do the installation or can also have it done free by their energy company once they have the solar panels ready. The details below explain what these two terms mean.
The Feed in Tariff (FIT) is a government initiative designed to encourage the uptake of the micro renewable technology, this is implemented by the owner of the PV panels receiving a fixed amount of money for every unit of energy generated by the panels. This is irrespective of the electricity being used in the property or exported to the grid. There is also additional money that is earned from the energy exported to the grid through the Export Tariff.
The Export Tariff on the other hand allows a company or individual to earn money for every unit of electricity generated from renewable sources which is exported back to the grid. This means that any energy generated by the PV panels that is not used in the property will be exported to the grid. The owner of the panels will receive a fixed amount of money for each unit exported. This is in addition to the money earned from the FIT.
If an individual have the capital to pay for the Panels, it will cost about £8,500(N2, 500,000) for an average system, which means the individual can keep the income from the Feed in Tariff and Export Tariff. However, there is the option for the Free Solar Package Scheme, that way the initial large investment can be avoided, however, with this scheme, the energy company owns the panels for 25 years and then they become yours.
In the scheme Individuals are allowed to generate up to 5MW of electricity, the amount you are paid will depend on the scale of the panels installed. A typical 2.5kW, solar PV can save you around £140(N35,000) per year on your electricity bill and you could earn around £900 (N225, 000) per year through the cash back scheme. These type of scheme can work wonders if introduced in Nigeria as it will increase our energy capacity, the government (PHCN) gains, the ordinary Nigerians using the the energy transported to the grid gains and also the individual who owns the solar panels gains. So it’s a win win situation.