The Federal Government has taken many tangible steps to practically diversify the country’s power needs through renewable sources.
Speaking recently in Lagos while on a working visit to some media houses, the Minister of Power, Professor Chinedu Nebo said several initiatives had been conceived by the President Goodluck Jonathan administration primarily to promote the use of renewable energy to assist in its vision of providing reliable electricity for all Nigerians, regardless of where they live or work.
According to Prof Nebo, “the effort is designed to assist in achieving energy security through abundant energy mix of wind, solar and biomass.”
One of President Jonathan’s celebrated milestones in the power sector is the flag-off and commissioning of Operation Light-up Rural Nigeria projects in three rural communities of Abuja, namely Durumi, Shappe and Waru.
Residents in these villages, who hitherto had never seen electricity, recently marked uninterrupted solar power supply for one full year. Alhaji Sule Gambo, who lives in Durumi described the “Operation Light-Up Rural Nigeria” programme as one of the greatest gifts President Jonathan has given to his people. Another resident, Mr. James Agbo described it as God’s intervention, particularly in those communities that are far-flung from the national grid, in view of the enormous challenge of delivering electricity the conventional way.
The residents were excited that rural communities not connected to the national electricity grid have been given light, using 100 per cent solar energy. Government officials disclosed plans are at an advanced stage to replicate the projects in hundreds of communities across the country, while also encouraging the private sector to key into it for wider spread.
Another solar electricity project has been completed in Jere village along the Zuba-Kaduna highway, awaiting commissioning, while at the Wuse market Abuja, yet another solar project has also been completed to power the businesses of women entrepreneurs.
President Jonathan’s vision has given rise to a new sector slogan, “No community to be left in darkness”. In pursuing the vision, the National Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Policy, as well as the coal-to-power policy have been developed. Plans by the government to build coal-fired plants in Enugu, Benue, Kogi and Gombe states are at an advanced stage. The Minister of Power has since inaugurated an eight-member committee to develop a workable framework to galvanize long-term use of the country’s abundant coal resources to improve its power generation capacity. The committee has since swung into action to ensure a 100 per cent success in the renewed thrust in coal-to-power.
Government has also begun the building of the 700-megawatt Zungeru dam and will soon flag off work on the 3,050-megawatts Mambilla power plant, both of which have been on the drawing board for decades. Also, at least 17 small and medium hydro power plants are being developed across the country. It is expected that when the Kashimbilla power plant is fully functional, it will generate an additional 40 megawatts, while the Dadinkowa dam will rake in 34 megawatts.