New solar project expected to provide power to critical public sectors across Lagos

Editor’s Note: This article is a joint effort by the City of Lagos and members of the Lagos State Electricity Board.

Many things can be said about the West African country of Nigeria, and indeed, the country has been the focus of a number of global news stories in recent times.  However, one thing that cannot be overlooked, or indeed understated, is the fact that the country is a rising global power. 

With approximately 174 million inhabitants, Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa; the nation’s capital, Lagos, a sprawling mega city, is the 2nd fastest-growing city on the continent. Lagos is the economic powerhouse of the country, and generates a significant portion of the country’s GDP; most of the country’s commercial banks, financial institutions, and major corporations are headquartered here. With such a heavy burden of responsibility on the city, and with an overwhelming population of 21 million people, there is a huge demand in terms of power.

However, the power generation and supply authorities have often failed to keep up with the ever-increasing demand for power throughout Nigeria, especially in majorly populated cities like Lagos. As of August 22nd 2015, the country’s peak power generation was recorded at 4,724.6MW, while the demand in Lagos alone is stipulated at 10,000MW.

This power deficit often leads to prevalent power outages across the country, leading most of Nigeria’s inhabitants to turn to alternate means of power – mostly diesel or petrol-powered generators. In such highly populated cities like Lagos, power outages could be disastrous; various sectors of the economy, from manufacturing to health and education, frequently suffer great setbacks due to shortages.

Enter: the Lagos Solar Project.

In an effort to address the shortfall, particularly in the rural areas of the state, Lagos has joined many other global cities in the exploration of medium-scale renewable energy. As a sustainable energy solution to its growing power challenges, the Lagos State Government has officially commissioned the Lagos Solar Project, a Renewable Energy initiative jointly funded with UK Aid.

Image: Lagos State Electricity Board 

The project aims to provide 5MW of embedded solar systems to education and health facilities in the capital by the end of 2015. It will deliver 213 sustainable solar power systems of varying sizes (from 9kWp to 185kWp) to 183 rural, riverine and boarding public schools and rural health centers, providing help to those who will benefit the most, and positioning the city at the forefront of innovative energy solutions in Africa.

Lagos Solar is expected to add robustness to the state’s energy mix, and upon completion will account for 10% of the independent, dedicated power that the State Government generates in Lagos. Implemented by the Lagos State Electricity Board, the project offers world-class solar designs based on extensive energy audits and site analysis conducted in each school and health center.  The solar systems have been designed to last for at least 20 years under normal use.

The pilot phase consisting of 32 schools and Epe primary healthcare center was completed in March 2015, allowing each facility to enjoy constant electricity round the clock, despite being in some of the most remote areas of Lagos. The project is due to be in its final stages of completion by October 2015; by then all public secondary schools in Badagry, Ibeju Lekki, Ikorodu and Epe will have solar power systems, as well as all public boarding secondary schools, riverine and hard to reach schools in Lagos. In addition 11 rural flagship primary healthcare centers (PHC), many of which are dedicated to maternal health services., will receive systems supplying constant electricity.

This project, while localized to the educational and healthcare sectors, is a hugely promising one.  If successful, the project can be studied closely, and applied to multiple other sectors in the country, helping to further close the gap between power generation and demand in Nigeria.