While Nigeria worldwide is known as Black Africa’s largest hydrocarbon exporter, the state is also looking into renewable energy for indigenous use.
Nigeria’s Delta State’s solar initiative follows the May 6 Federal Government signing the Foreign Investments Protection Agreement (FIPA) with Canada to improve the climate for Canadian investing in Nigeria. Delta State Government signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Canada’s Skypower FAS Energy to build a $5 billion, 3,000 megawatt facility in the state.
SkyPower FAS Energy is a joint venture between Toronto-based SkyPower Global and Saudi Arabia’s FAS Energy. Established in 2003, SkyPower FAS Energy has built facilities generating over 25,000 megawatts worldwide, producing over 219 million kilowatt hours of clean electricity to date. FAS Energy is a subsidiary of Fawaz Alhokair Group, one of the leading groups of companies in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia focusing on retail and real estate business sectors.
Nigerian Minister of Industry, Trade and Foreign Investments Olusegun Aganga said, “Skypower will deploy first in Delta State which has taken the lead because of the enormous work the State has put in to ensure the realization of the renewable energy program.”
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SkyPower FAS Energy President and CEO Kerry Adler said, "This is truly a proud moment for SkyPower FAS Energy. Global partnerships such as these are key to bringing together extensive expertise from around the world. The signing of these landmark agreements demonstrates the shared vision of a partnership that will further stimulate the vibrant, fast-growing Nigerian economy and substantially impact the state and country's GDPs, resulting in increased employment and skills training. We applaud the leadership of the Delta State and Federal Nigerian governments for embracing this initiative and demonstrating their continued commitment to reduce carbon emissions and harness the proven power of solar PV."
Lauding the agreement Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Power Permanent Secretary Godknows Boladei Igali said, “The Nigerian Government is pleased to partner with SkyPower FAS Energy and we look forward to creating more power and more jobs for the people of Nigeria. Foreign investment in Nigeria helps build the economy and strengthen international ties with a well-respected and viable partner such as SkyPower FAS Energy.” Delta State governor Emmanuel Eweta Uduaghan was equally enthusiastic, commenting, “Delta State is pleased to sign this agreement with the world’s largest solar developer, SkyPower FAS Energy. It represents a continued effort to provide even more clean and renewable energy that can be sustained for decades to come. Delta State: beyond oil into solar.”
Solar power is well suited to Nigeria. As Nigeria is in the tropics, it has only two seasons a year, a rainy and dry season. Accordingly, Nigeria’s greatest solar energy generation potential occurs during the dry season, which last from December to May, while solar energy can only be generated at lower levels during the rainy season due to the reduced amount of sunshine.
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SkyPower FAS Energy project is expected to begin commercial operation in phases starting in 2015.
While the Delta solar project is a Canadian-Saudi Arabian joint venture, Nigeria’s solar initiatives dovetail with U.S. President Barack Obama’s “Power Africa” initiative, announced on June 30, 2013, which is intended to “build on Africa’s enormous power potential, including new discoveries of vast reserves of oil and gas, and the potential to develop clean geothermal, hydro, wind and solar energy.” The initiative will provide increased opportunities for U.S. power companies, as U.S. firms are leaders in commercial solar power development. As the “Power Africa” initiative has already identified Nigeria as a “partner country,” is seems likely that U.S. renewable energy companies will shortly join the U.S. oil and natural gas firms already operating there.
By John Daly of Oilprice.com