The renewable energy sector has been described as an opportunity rather than a threat to the oil and gas sector.
In the past few years, there has been a lively debate about the increasing role of renewables at the expense of fossil fuels, particularly in power generation.
Some say that renewables are not an existential threat and believe that they might take only a small piece of the pie by 2040, due to high costs and vital government subsidies.
On the other hand, others believe that costs are declining fast, and it may take a significant share in power generation, knocking not just coal, but also natural gas off the throne.
In an interview with business a.m, Olasimbo Sojinrin, country manager, Nigeria at solar sister, a social enterprise that seeks to eradicate energy poverty by empowering women with economic opportunity, said despite the continual use of oil and gas, it has been unable to mankind has been unable to solve mankind challenge the challenge of energy posed.
This, according to her, is why conventional oil companies are now divesting into the sector.
She said, “In a bid to solve the problem of energy which is where renewable energy comes in, they have not been able to successfully solve that problem. So, we need a solution that is longer lasting and helpful to our population.
“Renewable energy is the way. It is the future for everyone including the oil and gas sector and you see a lot of the big names have started diversifying. We have companies like Total who are playing a major role in the sector and even worldwide you see a lot of big oil and gas companies are involved in the sector,” she said.
Speaking further, Sojinrin said a major challenge the sector faces is that of access to finance adding that although the use of renewable energy such as Solar brings with it health benefits, the negative perception of people over the years has aided its slow growth in the country.
In her words, “Finance and access to it is a major challenge. If a person in a remote community needs to turn out N10,000 to buy a system, that money has to come for somewhere. The man or the woman might be spending N500 everyday which might be easier for her to get if she is into trade but it might be difficult for her to have that entire upfront cost which is one of the challenges that we face.
“One of the big challenges is that, a lot of people think that renewable energy is more expensive but that is not the case. There is no doubt an initial upfront investment that an individual need to put up in order to get some solar.
“If you look at our Solar Sisters, the solar units that we sell are very basic that can power your mobile phone or small device even that people think it is expensive the amount of money you need to put up first however what you don’t put into consideration is once you buy it, that is it
“Another challenge is the awareness on the technology, but this over the years is getting better. This is better than 5 years ago.
“However, we still have a lot of people in the community that have a negative perception of solar technology so maybe what they still not get is maybe some government officials came and installed maybe a borehole or some streetlight in the community which isn’t working anymore.
“There is a perception that it doesn’t work which is another barrier that we face in having to re-educate communities and people about this technology.
“It’s tested, it works, it’s proven and quality verified. It has a lifespan of five years or a particular period of time. So really having to re-educate customers about the benefits of solar, the education, the consumer of education that comes and all of that are all of those are some of the challenges that we face,” she said.
The adoption of Solar in Nigeria like any other new technology has been fraught with challenges.
Unfortunately, poor government solar contracts –mostly solar street lights and community boreholes – are visible and failing thereby further denying energy access which brings high-quality affordable clean energy solutions.