-Nigeria Communications Week, 14 May, 2014, By Kennedy Ifebhor
The Federal Government has expressed readiness to support the National Agency for Science Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) in the production of solar panels for renewable energy. Prof. Chinedu Nebo, Minister of Power, made this known when he inspected the NASENI solar panel manufacturing plant in Karshi, in Abuja.
Nebo said, ``with the low level of electricity generation in the country which is mainly through gas fired turbines, the Federal Government is now focusing on solar to compliment it. ``We want to grow renewable energy resources utilization and deployment in Nigeria. With the low level of electricity generation and transmission in the country the only way to reach the rural communities is through renewable technology. This is one of the technologies that are far away from the national grid,â€™â€™ he said.
He further said that with the launch of the Operation Light-up Rural Nigeria (OLRN), using renewable energy, it had become imperative to develop Nigerian solar manufacturing plants. The minister said the Federal Government was ready to patronize products from the agency, especially for the OLRN.
``Patronising them will give them more encouragement to go into mass production and sales of the solar panels across the country. Solar is the only thing you can deploy to every part of Nigeria and get electricity. We have challenges with wind because the onshore wind velocity is not quite amenable with wind turbines and only select part of the country will use that,â€ť he said.
The Minister said that partnering with NASENI was part of government effort to ensure local content development in the power sector and the creation of jobs for Nigerian youths.
``I will say this is a learning visit and step to forge a relationship with NASENI solar company. It is also to ensure that we even train most of the technical people that will be going out there to deploy this technology in our rural communities. That is why the Ministry of Power will like to collaborate with NASENI in the deployment of solar power technology in the country,â€ť he said.
The minister commended the professional and diligent methodology of quality control of the panels. He stressed the need for NASENI to improve on its marketing and to always comply with international standard. ``We will be promoting NASENI; we will tell our partners that we prefer NASENI solar panels because Mr President is so concerned when it comes to local content development. Once the solar panels continue to be of international and best standard why go outside. We will patronise NASENI no doubt about that,â€™â€™ he said.
Earlier, Mr. Mohammed Haruna, NASENI Executive Vice Chairman, said the 7.5mw pilot plant was already producing high quality solar panels that could be found in the market. ``The solar factory as you have seen is a demonstration plant and it was started as part of our research and development and we want to prove that it can work in Nigeria.
``So, it is a 7.5mw pilot plant and it is producing solar panels of high quality standard and the products are available in the market,â€™â€™ he said.
According to EVC, the project started in May 2012 and became a Limited Liability Company in 2013 after surmounting so many challenges.
Nebo also visited a small hydropower installation at Gada village near Akwanga, Nasarawa State.
The small hydropower was built by NASENI engineers tapping into the River Mada.