Renewable Energy Potential and Viable Energy Solutions in Nigeria


The main objective of this study is to evaluate the possible renewable sources of energy that can be used to replace the current supply.The levels of fossil fuels are declining which makes the nation seek to test other means to run the economy. Additionally, the issue of global warming is a subject of discussion globally. Nonrenewable energy is contributing to emission of carbon dioxide which puts the country at risk of climate change. Nigeria is one of the most populated nation in the Africa, with an estimated GDP of $2042 and is classified among the poorest irrespective of potential natural resources that have not been fully exploited. The country’s energy supply is low, which is hampering the economic growth. There is a lot of reliance on oil, hence pegging the economy on nonrenewable sources which do not meet the increasing demand for power. Exploiting environmentally friendly sources could bridge the gap of electricity demand in the rural areas. For example, the state has a possibility of producing 427,000MW from the sun. The current production stands at 5000MW which meet a fraction of the requirements for economic growth. Embracing renewable source would play an escalating role in supplying enough to carry on commercial activities. The paper will cover a complete analysis of available clean electricity production technologies and suggest the best option to supplement or replace the current one. Finally, the paper will give recommendations on the best way to address the issue of power shortage in Nigeria.

Renewable Energy Potential and Viable Energy Solutions in Nigeria

The global demand for electricity is linearly related to increase in population. One of the primary concern for third world countries is lack of enough energy, to promote economic growth. According to Cloutier& Rowley (2011, p.225), insufficient supply has contributed to the underperformance of various nations resulting in near market failure. The modern world provides varied options which can be adopted to solve the problem, by engaging modern technologies of power generation. Nigeria has continually relied on oil, with little input directed to venture on renewable sources, which are more eco-friendly and even cheap to operate. The government and private sectors have not shown interest in developing their current sources. A lot of information is available on how to embrace reliable and efficient energy, which benefits the locals and even boosts the economy. Proper education is needed to convert the current perception into meaningful choices.

Finance for gas or electricity is an issue in Nigeria. Considering that the high population in rural areas comprise of the poor, most of them would rely on bank loans for installation fees (Ezugwu 2015, p.70). The rate of interest charged by the banks stands at a minimum of 20%, which scare people from accessing loans (Fazelpour et al. 2017, p.647).Additionally, the government has not invested enough in exploring new ways of expanding the renewable sources in the country. Hydropower has been in the Centre of electricity production in Nigeria, accounting for about 50% of energy supply (Mirhosseini et al. 2011, p.456). Gas power has recently overtaken the grid electricity, but it’s being constrained due to the irregular amount from the hydropower. There is much reliance on other sources to the extent that the mention of the wind and solar is not well understood by the public and the government altogether. The perception is partially contributed by a project which was implemented on solar lighting and failed without proper implementation (Notton et al. 2010, p.546). Failure to use the current technology contributed to the collapse of the project significantly. Cloutier& Rowley (2011, p.224) affirms that renewable sources of energy provide plausible long stability. There is a broad possibility of tapping more than what is presented currently in Nigeria.

Local Natural Resources in Nigeria

Nigeria is a country which is endowed with numerous natural wealth. Study conducted by Ezema et al. 2016, p.75) affirms that natural resources are core for facilitating some of the activities in the nation. They are pertinent in boosting the economy and development. For example, minerals are exchanged for the revenues which are used to grow other sectors (Nwachukwu&Mba, p.552). The geographical location of Nigeria makes it stand in an area where the mineral ores are abundant (Cloutier& Rowley 2011, p.223). The most predominant mineral in this area is crude oil and gas. It has contributed to about 60% of the GDP (Ezema et al. 2016, p.75). Moreover, cocoa is the principal agricultural crop but does not bring more revenue compared to oil. Others are like coffee, cotton, Agriculture and minerals are the backbone of Nigeria (Ezugwu 2015, p.71). Mining industries are virtually distributed all over the country. They have significantly provided numerous employment to the people both in rural and urban areas. The mining sector has been a critical driver in the Nigeria economy, while agricultural sector is leading in non-oil foreign earner resulting to social and economic stability.However, irrespective of the high prices associated with oil products, the GDP of Nigeria has been declining. According to Fazelpour et al. (2017, p.664), the domineering of oil as the only source of income has made it a mono-economy. The repercussions of these are intrusion of international politics which tends to destabilize the performance of the economy. The net effect is the unpredictable oil prices in the world. The oil-producing nations do not set their prices but are regulated by OPEC (Notton et al. 2010, p.553). They are subject to any decision made by the body hence lacks full control of the market. The estimated energy demands in Nigeria is represented by the graph indicated below (Fazelpour et al. 2017, p.658).

Figure 1: Energy demand in Nigeria (Fazelpour et al. 2017, p.658)

Justification of the Selected Technologies

Nigeria has a lot of renewable sources of electricity which can be utilized to benefit the locals though continuous supply of power. Significant portion of the economy is operated by fossil fuel which is not reliable and also pollutes the environment. Hydropower and solarhave not been full tapped to cater for the surging demand for clean source of energy. Wind power could be the next solution because a large portion of the country is semi desert. The following paragraphs describes technologies that can be employed to solve the menace of power shortage in Nigeria.

Solar Energy

Efficient electricity supply shapes the country’s economic direction (Notton et al. 2010, p.541).The factories and other manufacturing companies require sustainable energy to continually perform their work. Nigeria is faced with the enormous need of power since the state has the mono supply from the oil (Mirhosseini et al. 2011, p.450). The nation is entangled into the deteriorating supply of power due to overdependence on fossil fuels. Renewable sources were relegated to the back, and the government did not show any move to invest in this clean source of energy (Notton et al. 2010, p.553). Successive efforts by the government to complement petroleum products have proved abortive. The sun is estimated to emit high-intensity electromagnetic waves which are transmitted through the atmospheres onto the earth surface. The concentration of the electromagnetic waves onto a common point can have the important role in replacing the grid system which is costly (Nwachukwu&Mba 2012, p.33). The blackbody temperature of the sun is 5777k which is enough to supply the rural areas of Nigeria (Fazelpour et al. 2017, p.648).

Nigeria lies within the sunshine belt (Nwachukwu&Mba 2012, p.553). It receives the enormous amount of intensity on a daily basis. The country gets an average of 19.8 mj annually and six hours of sunshine per day (Ezema et al. 2016, p.75). The radiation levels are estimated to be 5.5 kWh. The current grid supply is insignificant to meet the demand. Some authors notes that if the solar panels are fitted to cover 1% of Nigeria, 1850×103 Gwh would be sufficiently produced which is 150 times than the present state (Ezugwu 2015, p.70).

The number suggests that if the state can only cover around 40% of the country, it would sort out all crisis concerning power shortage (Cloutier& Rowley 2011, p.226). Effective tapping of solar energy would augment the electricity generated from fossil fuels subsequently resulting in development. Furthermore, it was noted that the installation fee for the solar power has been reducing over the years (Nwachukwu&Mba 2012, p.554). The penetration of renewable energy is gaining shape in Nigeria, with citizens appreciating its role. The increase in awareness is coupled with reduction in cost of different renewable sources.The graph below shows trends of different sources of energy and their cost (Cloutier& Rowley 2011, p.225).

Figure 2: Trend showing varying cost of different energy sources (Cloutier& Rowley 2011, p.225)

The graph depicts that solar power cost is estimated to decrease over the coming years, as opposed to gas which is projected to increase with time. The reason behind an increase in the cost of gas fuel is due to unstable prices of oils and also depletion of oil wells. New emerging technologies have replaced the traditional fossils into a more reliable resource. Nigeria is slowly incorporating solar energy, and shortly the power levels will be boosted robustly.


Nigeria has a high potential for hydropower with an average of 90% undeveloped renewable sources (Shaaban and Petirin 2014.p.73). The current figures indicate that about 33% of power from this country is generated from hydraulic turbines and 67% comes from thermoelectric generators (Oseni 2012, p.367). The nation has not fully exploited its power capacity, irrespective of the alternatives presented by nature. Hydropower consumption stands at 32%, while a significant percentage is energy from fossil fuels. When the hydro sources are fully utilized, the country can generate a maximum of 11,000 MW, which is a considerable amount to supply both rural and urban areas. Most of the rural areas and part of the urban places are partially connected to grid electrification, which derails economic growth. Olomiyesan and Oyedum (2012, p.7) notes that the nation has tremendous potential of hydropower exemplified by her rivers which are distributed all over. A study conducted by Oseni (2012, p.373) indicated that an estimation of rivers Kaduna and Benu could produce 4500MW. The power could be used to cover areas where clean energy has not been available.

Power generated from the water has a significant number of advantages, especially to the community. People benefit from the improved supply of clean energy, which has less pollution. Furthermore, it attracts industrial development, creating employment to the locals (Ohunakin and Akinnawonu 2012, p.79). The standards of living improve as opposed to when fossil fuels are used to run the economy. Significant activities such as manufacturing are possible if the constant supply of energy is guaranteed. Hydropower is a sound alternative to displace diesel generators. According to Oseni (2012, p.373), fossil fuels emit carbon dioxide that is regarded as a greenhouse gas. It blankets the atmosphere contributing to the abnormal increase of earth’s temperatures. One way to avoid the anomalies associated with climatic change is to prevent massive consumption of petroleum products (Oseni 2012, p.368). Moreover, desertification has impacted tremendous pressure on the Nigeria’s environment. The trend is linked to excavation of oil wells, where forested places have been cleared to facilitate the activity. In a situation faced with acute shortage of power, embracing hydropower could solve the problem.

Alternative Sources of Energy (Wind power)

Wind is another source of clean energy endowed to us freely by nature. Most of the nations have not embraced this form of power, which can be used to substitute the available sources. Just like hydropower, wind isclean and environmentally friendly (Ferreira and Camacho 2017, p.53). The prominence of wind power is not well understood all over the world compared to the sun.Nigeria is one of the countries which has not utilized the energy from the wind, but only relics exist about its previous usage (Adeogun et al. 2016, p.68).The researchers and the government have corporately embarked on assessing the potential of the nation’s magnitude of wind resource (Akuru and Okoro 2012, p.67). From the study, it was identified that the average annual speed stood at 2.748 m/s while its energy was 15.484 w/m2. The research also determined that mountainous, hilly and semiarid areas of the country received high speed which could be utilized to turn turbines for electricity generation.Oseni (2012, p.83) notes that if the available resources are utilized in the right manner, the shortage which is being experienced in both rural and urban areas could be solved.

Quantitative analysis

Power generation from the wind, solar and hydropower differs significantly in Nigeria. The predominance of rivers redistributed in various areas in the country makes hydropower the most utilized source of energy. The table below shows potential hydropower sites that can be tapped to complement the current supply (Adeogun et al. 2016, p.68).

Figure 3: Different State in Nigeria and their installed capacity (Adeogun et al. 2016, p.68)

The table above shows some of the rivers that have not been utilized to generate power. The figures indicate that the volumes of water are high, but the installed capacities are low.

Nigeria lies in a belt which receives high intensity of the sun in a given year. Until recently, utilization of solar power was not embraced. The population had been used to fossil fuel and failed to incorporate the current technology of solar panels. However, the installation of this technology is slowly gaining acceptance. The table below illustrates solar radiations from different states in Nigeria (Adaramola and Oyewola 2011, p.202).

Figure 4: Radiations in different parts of Nigeria (Adaramola and Oyewola 2011, p.202)

 The average sunshine per day in Nigeria is estimated to be 6.5 hours. The solar energy received in 12 hours is 27 times than the conventional fossil fuel sources, and it is more than 115,000 time of hydropower produced in the country. The data indicate that only 3.7% of the land can generate solar energy which is equivalent to the current supply of electricity.

Wind is another resource which has been proposed to complement the current need of renewable energy in Nigeria. The country falls in the moderate wind regime with the average speed ranging between 1 to 5m/s. the table below shows some of the mapped areas and the speed of the wind in the respective places (Oseni 2012, p.372)

Figure 5: Average speed of the wind in different parts of Nigeria (Oseni 2012, p.372)

From the table, the sites which were sampled are potential for wind power generation. Most of the turbines generate the electric power when the speedranges between 3-4 m/s. All locations met the minimum requirements to produce the energy and therefore considered an alternative option to install turbines.

Qualitative Analysis (Advantages and disadvantages of selected technologies)

Renewable sources of energy are more reliable as opposed to non-renewable sources. Regular powers shortage retards the general performance of the economy.Companies are attracted to an area where energy supply is guaranteed, with minimal chances of the outage (Shaaban and Petinri 2014, p.83). Embracing renewable sources is therefore beneficial to the country since more manufacturing activities would take place. Additionally, less maintenance is required when operating a clean source of power. Fossil fuels generate a lot of wastes which renders the generators to have regular checks. Hydropower, wind and solar energies are friendlier and are not associated with waste products (Olomiyesan and Oyedum 2016, p.7). Moreover, clean energy reduces air pollution. One of the global problem facing most nations is dealing with environmental pollution. A lot of greenhouse gases are emitted into the air, resulting in global warming. The best way to regulate the aftermath is embracing new technologies of producing energy. However, the primary challenge facing implementation of new technologies is lack of enough funding. Buying and installation of right machines to produce power are expensive. Nigeria is a third world country and accessing the proper services and personnel would require outsourcing, which is pretty costly (Ezema et al. 2016, p.68). Lack of awareness of the available resources by the government makes the concerned department reluctant to embrace renewable sources of energy.

Recommendations and critical reflection

The government should provide funds to set up renewable power generation plant in various areas. The northern part of Nigeria receives high-intensity sun and can be targeted to install solar panels to serve the Nigerian populace. The government and actors in various sectors should invest more in educating the people on the importance of renewable energy to overcome the prejudices in the industry. Creation of awareness would assist the citizens to consider alternatives sources of power instead of relying on petroleum products. Additionally, the government should collaborate with renewable energy developers to find an amicable solution, particularly for rural area services.The initiative can be achieved by liaising with foreign research institutions to unearth possible remedies to the current shortage of power. The results obtained should be executed for the benefit of the people. Furthermore, coming up with proper finance models would assist in developing sustainable energy supply. The authors have also recommendedon energy business incubators. The role of these institutions will be building technical expertise within the country hence assist in innovation of alternatives to fossil fuels.

Energy is the core for the stay of the economy. The sustainability and efficiency of power is a major factor in national development. Nigeria is supplied by both hydro and thermal power, but the demand is still high. Thermal power which was generated from the natural gas has been bedeviled due to exhaustion of gas wells, hence reducing the power supply. The citizens have turned to other alternatives to diesel and petrol, which are also detrimental to the environment. Energy demands by the year 2030 are estimated to be 30,000MW due to increasing population. However, Nigeria has not met the sufficiency to meet the current demand. Fluctuations of power generating equipment have lowered the power generation to around 3000MW. The country is far from attaining sufficiency.

Economic opportunities that sustainable energy can bring in Nigeria is an attractions by government and private sectors to aggressively invest in natural resources. Orderly adaptation to the new technologies of producing renewable sources is required to benefit the locals. The paper identifies that solar energy is rarely used to supply the surging need of electricity both in rural and urban areas. The projection of Nigerian population is expected to increase with time, hence more power will be demanded. Continued reliance on oil has not solved the problem, which is scaring away foreign investors from the country. It was noted that wind power is also not fully utilized irrespective of some states in the country receiving the minimum speed required to turn turbines. Since the nation is largely arid and semi-arid, the movement of air is sufficient to replace the current fossil fuel reliance. From the three source discussed in the paper, solar energy is the best option since the radiations received per year are enough to sustain the economic activities in the entire state. Third world nations such as Nigeria trace their background to local instabilities in terms of trading. The study suggested that reliance on mono economy lowers the GDP. Lack of enough supply of energy impede the potential entrepreneurs, who find ways to channel their investments to other countries. The consequence brings a ripple of effects not only in Nigeria, but also to global economy. Adopting clean power sources could help the nation address some of the energy problems in various sectors. International nations have stake in reforming the Nigerian economy by providing both technical and financial assistance.

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