Clean Energy: Addressing Climate Change And Power Deficits In Nigeria By Onyedikachukwu Ozongwu


Clean energy can enable off-grid power solutions, while also reducing Greenhouse Gas (GhG) emissions in Nigeria. Fossil energy, a significant determinant of GhG and core of a largely unreliable national grid system in the country causes an increase in average global temperatures.

While fossil energy sources such as oil and gas are extensively exploited in Nigeria, most are exported or wasted through leakages or flaring according to the African Development Bank (AfDB). The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IIPCC) further asserts that burning of fossil fuel and the attendant increase in GhG emissions fuels global warming.

Impact of Gas Flaring

At 17.2 billion metric-cube of natural gas per year along with crude oil exploration, the Niger Delta accounts for 40% of the gas flared in Africa every year – Anslem Ajugwo of the Department of Haematology, Madonna University, Elele. Gas flaring, is explained as the venting of gas without burning by scientists. It releases methane, which together with CO2 constitutes an estimated 80 per cent of global warming.

Sea Level Rise

A direct consequence of climate change, sea level rise has continued to cause extensive devastation in states across the country. Recently, loss of lives  in Niger State arising from  sweeping floods was reported. Similar occurrences have also left a trail of destruction in other states notably Lagos, Rivers and Oyo.

Power Cuts: Regular Feature in Nigeria´s Power Sector With an estimated 184 million inhabitants according to the World Bank,

Nigeria generates slightly above 4,000 megawatts of power. To put this into further context, South Africa with an estimated population of 82 million generates 34,000 megawatts according to ESKOM, the country´s electricity public utility body.

Recently, Senator Mustapha Bukar (APC, Katsina North) who doubles as Deputy Chairman, Senate Committee on Power, National Assembly expressed pessimism on the chances of resolving the ugly power situation any time soon. He observed that an installed power generation capacity of over 12,000 megawatts notwithstanding, the country has only been able to achieve 4,000 megawatts at any time.

Lamenting the inefficiency in the system, he said: “…Nigeria has an installed capacity of 12,522 Megawatts of power;…non-available capacity of 5,300;…non-operational capacity of 3,180; meaning the amount…available is just over 4,000 Megawatts out of 12,500″. He further added, “we have transmission loss of 228, a distribution loss of 447 Megawatts; at the end of the day, only 3,800 Megawatts reach the consumer. And we have commercial loss of more than 36 per cent”.


The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) identifies two response templates to climate change viz: Mitigation of climate change by reducing GHG emissions and Adaptation to the impacts of climate change. Clean energy should be extensively exploited in order to mitigate the effects of climate change as well as reduce power deficits in the country.

With 17 per cent of Nigeria´s population completely out of the insufficient national grid, the expansion of off-grid power solutions is even more expedient. Fortunately, generating electricity from renewables and clean energy sources like solar, wind and biogas is increasingly cheaper and readily available.

Solar can bridge major energy deficits in rural areas and particularly in northern Nigeria where comparative favourable weather conditions exist. According to the Independent Energy Watch Initiative,  the country receives abundant sunshine all year round ranging from 6.70kwh/m2/day of horizontal solar radiation in Borno State to as high as 6.07/kwh/m2/d in the Federal Capital Territory. Furthermore and as Derek Markham of Renewable Energy World observes, another area with big potential is off-grid solar and battery storage for people that don’t have grid power.

Government Renewable Energy Policy

Although favourable conditions exist in the country, Nigeria has thus far attracted only little investment. The country has recently introduced reforms aimed at opening up the sector. Mr Nico Tyabji, Climatescope Africa Coordinator, Bloomberg New Energy Finance, in an interview with Vanguard stated that “apart from the feed-in tariff, Nigeria has a range of policies – from renewable energy targets to soft loans to a biofuels blending mandate to encourage renewables. The problem is that many of them aren’t operational. So the government has a job to do to clarify to the private sector exactly how these things work and whether they’re in force yet, because at the moment there’s a lot of confusion”.


Call to Action

Beside environmental benefits, clean energy solutions stand to devolve the single grid system, leading to efficiency and sufficiency. This is potentially a win-win situation; hence government must show political will as the enabler to see that Nigeria embraces the clean energy revolution.

Ozongwu writes from Abuja

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