Empower New Energy and Rensource have teamed up to create the largest power purchase agreement for solar energy in the commercial and industrial sector in Nigeria.

The 700KWp ground-mounted solar photovoltaic plant for Nigeria’s largest egg producer, Premium Poultry Farms, will generate 1GWh of clean energy annually. This will save up to 25 000 tons of CO2 in its lifetime, contributing to Abuja’s fight against air pollution.

The project marks the Nigerian poultry industry’s single largest clean energy project. The power plant is expected to operate for at least 25 years, according to the power purchase agreement signed between off-taker Premium Poultry and Norwegian impact investment company, Empower New Energy.

Affordable, clean energy

Ademole Adesina, founder and CEO of West African renewable energy services provider Rensource, stated: “This solution for Premium Poultry Farms, Nigeria’s largest egg producer, demonstrates our ability to meet the energy needs of a diverse array of industrial customers. We are honoured to supply affordable clean energy to further grow Nigeria’s critically important agricultural sector while cutting emissions.

“Premium Poultry Farms produces 600 000 eggs each day and has its own feed mill. The solar plant project is due to start operations in December 2020. It is estimated the plant will create 40 jobs during its construction and operations phase.”

Alhaji Mahey Rasheed, Premium Poultry Farms chairperson, explained the project: “We take immense pride in being good stewards of the environment and are pleased to enhance our efforts with this solution. Sustainability is at the heart of the farm’s philosophy. Furthermore, the project allows us to benefit from the substantially lower energy costs offered by the solar photovoltaic technology and we are excited to become the largest solar-powered poultry farm in the country.”

Solar energy is the way to go

A 2019 a BloombergNEF report about the uptake of solar energy in the sub-Saharan Africa commercial and industrial market pointed out that a combination of high electricity tariffs, falling photovoltaic energy prices, and a lack of grid reliability was spurring sales of on-site solar to business customers.

Solar for Business in sub-Saharan Africa found that the commercial and industrial market in the region was growing, not because of regulatory support (as is the case in developed countries) but because of economic factors. On-site solar power is cheaper than electricity tariffs paid by commercial or industrial clients in half of the markets studied by BloombergNEF.

The COVID-19 pandemic has since disrupted the energy sector and the International Energy Agency said in its World Energy Report 2020 that it was too soon to say how the crisis would affect the clean energy transition. Solar power was consistently at the heart of every scenario it posited for the next decade. The International Energy Agency report pointed out that solar projects consistently offer some of the lowest-cost electricity ever and it would be the main driver of growth of power projects to meet global electricity needs in the foreseeable future.

While institutions such as the World Bank and the African Development Bank are prioritising renewable energy development to address climate change the global pandemic has diverted funding in many African countries to address urgent healthcare and other socio-economic emergencies.

Projects such as this solar power plant for Premium Poultry Farms show the economic urgency of finding affordable power to run your business can still trump a lack of regulatory pressure. – ESI Africa