Renewables ‘can solve 60% of Nigeria’s energy demand by 2050’

With a strong policy framework Nigeria would have the potential to significantly ramp up its use of renewable energy resources, according to an IRENA report released during the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week.


Image : Soonthorn / AFP

Nearly 60% of Nigeria’s energy demand in 2050 can be met with renewable energy sources, saving 40% in natural gas and 65% in oil needs at the same time, according to the Renewable Energy Roadmap Nigeria report. 

The report – released on 13 January by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) to coincide with the opening of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week – reveals Nigeria must invest in sustainable energy sources to meet the growing needs of all the sectors of its economy and achieve universal access to modern energy services. 

Conducted in collaboration with the Energy Commission of Nigeria, the report contrasts what would occur under current and planned policies (the Planned Energy Scenario) with an increased renewable uptake scenario, named the Transforming Energy Scenario (TES).

Investment in renewables will be more cost-effective than the conventional pathway. The TES has lower investment costs than planned policies – $1.22 trillion compared to $1.24 trillion respectively. This corresponds to $35bn versus $36bn per year.

IRENA’s director-general, Francesco La Camera commented: “By using its abundant, untapped renewables, Nigeria can provide sustainable energy for all its citizens in a cost-effective manner. Nigeria has a unique opportunity to develop a sustainable energy system based on renewables that support socioeconomic recovery and development while addressing climate challenges and accomplishing energy security.” 

According to him, “Accelerating the energy transition will require far-sighted choices, discipline and wise investments, backed by international co-operation and strong national planning in Nigeria.”

Call for increased electrification

The report presents 18 key actions needed across the power, buildings, transport, industry and agriculture sectors to achieve the goals set out in the TES.

Existing financing mechanisms in the power sector should be improved and further regulatory options should be explored – the report says that despite the demonstrated benefits of renewables, the adoption of renewable energy technologies in Nigeria is still growing at a slow pace compared with countries such as Egypt, Kenya and South Africa.

It also says that advancing the energy transition requires a shift and scaling-up of investments in the short term to avoid locked-in fossil fuel infrastructure investments with long lifetimes, such as natural gas pipelines.

The report highlights the need for Nigeria to invest heavily in electrification. Under the TES, electrification would play a significant role in achieving the 60% renewable energy share, with its share in final energy use nearly doubling from 2015 levels by 2050.

Nigeria must improve upon existing efforts to promote clean cooking and access to modern forms of energy. The report says traditional bioenergy plays a large role in the energy sector of Nigeria, meeting nearly half of the final energy consumption in 2015. Achieving universal energy access by 2030 would have the potential to alter the final energy demand composition of Nigeria. 

The report also notes that Nigeria must quickly begin to adopt biofuels and electric vehicles (EVs) in addition to boosting the role for public transportation. Nigeria’s energy consumption is expected to increase due to a rising population and improvements in the socioeconomic life of the people. 

Policy coordination required

Writing in the foreword to the report, Adeleke Olorunimbe Mamora, Nigeria’s minister of Science, technology, and innovation, welcomes its findings:

“This assessment is timely, given the Government of Nigeria’s commitment to reducing its greenhouse gases by 20% unconditionally and 47% conditionally by 2030, as well as to reach net-zero emissions by 2060, as expressed by at COP26 in Glasgow in 2021.

“This contribution to Nigeria’s efforts to increase the share of renewable energy in its energy mix is highly appreciated, and will be useful in reviewing the national energy policy and strategic energy plans, as well for academics, consultants and investors interested in improving access to clean energy sources for various applications in Nigeria.”

Commenting further at the launch of the report, he said: “The highly distributed institutional structure of the energy sector in Nigeria means that coordination of policies will be essential to unlocking integrated energy transition planning and ensuring its success. A cross-cutting agency or body tasked with doing so would help build consensus and develop a coherent plan which in turn would allow for the scaling up of renewable energy to meet the needs across the Nigerian energy sector.”

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