Consumers get succour from renewable energy as power supply challenges persist

by Zebulon Agomuo

October 24, 2014 | 12:00 am
  |     |     |   Start Conversation

The management of Solynta Energy, a United Kingdom registered renewable energy company based in Lagos, says its aim is to make the power supply challenge in Nigeria a thing of the past.

Uvie Ugono, founder/CEO of the company, told BusinessDay that with the current 4,000 megawatts (MW) of electricity being generated in the country, Nigeria’s aspiration to join the league of industrialised nations may not be realised. Many citizens of Nigeria are not able to realise their career dreams owing to the problem of power, he also noted.

According to him, “Nigeria currently generates about 4,000MW of power, but actually for an industrialised country, we need 1kilowatt per person, which equates to about 170,000 (one hundred and seventy) megawatts. So, we are very, very way away to where we need to be and that’s why we don’t have enough power to go round.”

Businesses and homes can enjoy constant supply of power without having to wait for many years to build power plants, Ugono said, citing instance with the recent ground-breaking ceremony for a power plant in Benin City, Edo State, that is expected to generate about 450MW from 2017.

The entrepreneur said: “We are expecting a situation where power will be distributed through other means. People are not going to wait until some power plants that may or may not get commissioned in three or four years time before they start getting constant power with all the issues about gas and transmission. Going through a large-scale project that takes years to begin to serve the people is just a very wrong way.”

On whether the privatisation exercise was the solution to the power problem in the country, Ugono said: “In my view, I think the private sector controls the volume of power, but not the way it is currently being done. We are on the wrong side of development. We are actually doing the wrong thing. Actually, in the Western world, power arrangements are done by government as population grows and as demand grows. It is driven by government because the amount of money required to build the needed infrastructure can only be provided through tax payers’ money. But what we have now is that we privatised a sector that requires a huge amount of money to function. What we are just telling those who bought the power is that they should build our national infrastructure and this may not be achieved. So, we have a tremendous challenge on our hand.”

He also dismissed the insinuation that to enjoy a renewable energy one needs to spend a fortune, Ugono said that on the contrary, it is far cheaper than the power from PHCN in the long run.

“There are certain facts that Nigerians really, really need to be aware of. The biggest problem we have in Nigeria is the issue of subsidised cost. That’s actually the reason the power sector is where it is today. In Nigeria today, electricity consumers pay below costs (the overall cost of generation, transmission and distribution). The bad news is that, that is going to change very rapidly.

“Again when they say it is very costly to go solar, you have to be specific; what they are simply saying is that ‘it is too cash-hungry.’ That is because when you are buying into a renewable energy for 25 years, you are going to make your payment within a two-year-plan. If I ask you how much you are paying for PHCN supply, and you say, may be N10,000 (ten thousand naira) per month, and I’ll ask you, how much does that amount to in 25 years? You’ll discover that you will be paying more for the PHCN supply than solar. So, their argument is not that it is costly, but it is a liquidity factor; the problem of cash-flow (where do I get the money from?),” he said.

He further explained that some individuals and businesses spend a huge amount of money generating power for themselves through generating sets without realising it.

“If a company for instance spends about N1.5 million on diesel per annum, and that does not include maintenance of the generator, replacement of the generator as the case may be, noise, the fumes, the headache and lots of other inconveniences; and because you are buying and paying for the diesel every three or four days, you may not really take into account what you are spending, but we realised that the only way to solve the problem permanently is to match the payment profile.

If we say, now pay 25 percent deposit of the total cost of providing you with solar as deposit, which only amounts to the cost of buying a generator; then we spread the payment across two years; at the end of two years your payment stops. Now, you are able to have 25 years of uninterrupted power supply. That’s exactly what we are saying. We provide people with the opportunity to go solar through our favourable payment structure,” Ugono said.

He disclosed that Solynta has the vision to eradicate the country’s crippling energy problem, and that by “2023, we will install 5 million solar power systems, generating 10,000MW of energy for homes and businesses.”

According to him, “our residential solar power systems are positively impacting lives across the country. Our systems are cheap, clean, reliable and greatly increase our customers’ ease and enjoyment of being at home by providing uninterrupted power for 24 hours a day.

“We are transforming businesses by reducing their biggest cost (fuel) by at least 75 percent and enabling them to provide their customers with improved services in a pollution-free environment.”

Citing instances of projects successfully executed across the country, Solynta boss said: “In the last two months alone, we have distributed hundreds of kilowatts of energy. Our customers range from homes to filling stations to schools, hospitals and to hotels. We have customers in Lagos, Abuja, Edo State; we have projects lining up in Abakaliki in Ebonyi State, Ondo State, Akwa Ibom, Port Harcourt in Rivers and other places.”

Ugono, whose company is tucked somewhere on Yesuf Abiodun Way, Oniru, in Victoria Island, Lagos, said it cherishes and holds its customers very highly.

“Our customers are at the very heart of our company and we are dedicated to being a leader in providing excellent customer care,” he said.

Zebulon Agomuo

by Zebulon Agomuo

October 24, 2014 | 12:00 am
  |     |     |   Start Conversation

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