Stakeholders in Nation’s renewable energy industry have expressed worry over what they have described as the slow pace of progress in the sector.
Renewable energy is energy that is collected from renewable resources, which are naturally replenished on a human timescale, such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves, and geothermal heat. It is one of the means of tackling the global challenges of climate change. It is now being seen by many around the world as a cost-effective development solution for developed countries and a developing country such as Nigeria.
According to them, although the Nigerian alternative energy sector is making incremental progress, it is rather at a slow pace.
They urged the Federal Government to adopt renewable energy to accelerate development in the sector. Speaking in separate interviews with business a.m, Patrick Tolani, the chief executive officer of Community Energy Social Enterprise said there are serious issues that need urgent attention in order to reverse the current trend.
According to him, there is a need for more investments to guarantee energy security in Nigeria. “The alternative energy programme in Nigeria is making incremental progress, but the pace is rather too slow.
Speaking further, he said the country has abundant resources hence the need for each part of the country to use the natural resources to power its area.
“There is no area in Nigeria without a natural resource that can be used to power the area. “The Northern part of Nigeria will benefit immensely from the use of solar PV given the prospect of sunlight in the North. The South-South can still benefit from gas and other renewable energy resources that the region can boast of.
“Other parts of Nigeria, for instance, the North Central part of the country have great Hydro Power potentials. I believe we are more than ready to utilize these resources and get ourselves out of energy poverty,” he added.
He, therefore, said the lack of bankable ideas is a major hindrance to the sector urging developers to show capacity adding that engaging with multiple stakeholders is needed to operate as MiniGrid operators.
On her part, Vera Nwanze, general manager, West Africa of Azuri Technologies Limited attributed the slow progress to substandard products which were patronized and which made people to lose trust in it. She said although in its early days the sector was not well adapted, the narrative is beginning to change due to its wide range of quality products.
“The solar sector in Nigeria is still not well adopted because people are still skeptical on whether it is working or not. Permit me to also say that in the earlier days when the solar system came in, the Chinese people were patronized for cheap products because they will reduce the quality and this led to a lot of people losing trust in the solar product.
“The narrative is changing fast with dependable source like ours,” she said. Speaking further, Nwanze said the sector would thrive only if the local banks are willing to fund projects adding that the banks are not financing them because they are yet to understand the sector.
She said, “Coming back to financing, even the ones that are supposedly supporting solar products, they talk it but do not act it. “In East Africa, where the solar system is well established, you see a lot of the banks partaking. In Nigeria, we have adopted a watch and see attitude. We only go with the fine bride.
“We have approached a lot of N Nigerian banks, but they are not willing because they still don’t understand the sector very well to be able to partake. So, their appetite for risk is zero.
“This is why you see us discussing some special purpose vehicles financing structure whereby we use the receivable as collateral. “We sign a contract with customer over a period of years where they pay on monthly basis because we know that these are the people at the bottom of the pyramid and the financial capacity is not there.
“So, we have to ensure that these people enjoy the services and also be able to pay at a convenient and affordable rate,” she added. She therefore called on government to grant tax waivers to operators in order to ensure more affordability by customers.
“If we have some income tax waivers for the panel products, that will also go a long way in making these products more affordable because the end users will bear the cost. “What obtains today is that they separate the panel and say others are electronic but how would they run without the panel? “So, they should be seen a single entity when it comes to VAT,” she noted.
By Ayobami Adedinni