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Solar energy to be installed across Nigeria

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By Usman Oladimeji

Sub-Saharan African populace lacking electricity access expected to reduce.

The prevailing occurrences of power outages across Nigeria, imposing an undue burden on households and businesses while simultaneously depriving citizens of access to reliable electricity necessitate an astute and expeditious course of action in order to address the incessant power crisis. A report from the World Energy Outlook 2023, discerned that the occurrence of the pandemic and the ensuing global energy crisis, brought about by the Russia-Ukraine war crisis has inflicted a huge setback on the tremendous strides undertaken toward enhancing electricity accessibility.

Numbers of people bereft of access to electricity have escalated, amounting to approximately 6 million individuals, thereby culminating to about 760 million individuals predominantly within sub-Saharan Africa. However, data from the first half of 2023, shows a notable shift. The number of individuals within the sub-Saharan African region, without access to electricity, is progressing to stabilize in 2023, following a period of three consecutive annual increments. Also, overcoming the debt burden faced by national electric utilities and further constrained financial resources in Africa.

Installing solar panels at 600 different locations.

Consequently, the number of individuals in the continent who have access to electricity through a grid connection experienced an abrupt decline of up to 50 percent in the year 2022. The prevailing circumstances have pushed numerous individuals to consider alternative energy solutions, thereby instigating a surge in the acquisition of alternative systems, particularly in West and East Africa regions. In Nigeria, the populace lacking access to electricity is witnessing a sharp decline, owing to the implementation of increased sales of solar home systems.

In recent times, Airtel entrusted WATT Renewable Corporation (WATT), a privately owned provider of hybrid solar solutions, to install over 32MW capacity of solar PV and storage systems in locations across Nigeria. Under the terms of the deal, solar panels and lithium-ion battery storage will be installed at 600 different locations and provided as part of an Energy-as-a-Service model. With installation of the hybrid solar systems, Airtel will have a more reliable and uptime from its power supply, which is crucial as it increases its network coverage to roll out 4G and 5G technologies to the region.

WATT hybrid solar solution poised to replace diesel generators.

Also, the deal showcases a common share value among the two parties. WATT commitment to sustainable development will aid Airtel meet its sustainability, reliability, and cost targets while also producing long-term benefits for society as a whole. WATT hybrid solar solution is poised to replace diesel generators, thereby resulting in lower Airtel’s scope 1 emissions and better air quality for the surrounding community. To further improve operational savings, new enclosure technology will be implemented for the balancing systems being installed at each location.

Upon installation, WATT will persistently engage in the operation and maintenance of the energy generation sites, guaranteeing an uninterrupted provision of reliable and sustainable energy and fostering a lasting alliance with Airtel. Oluwole Eweje, the Chief Executive Officer of WATT, stated that working with Airtel presents an ideal opportunity to deliver renewable energy to the Nigerian telecommunication realm, as it will be crucial for the perpetual and sustainable development of the sector. In addition to aiding Airtel’s sustainability agenda and enhancing air quality for neighbouring communities, this endeavour will concurrently improve the connectivity of users.

Providing customers with long-term power solutions.

Eweje further said the company is thrilled to expand its expertise in the telecoms industry, which is expected to sustain its dynamism in the foreseeable future. As an independent producer of clean energy technology, WATT provides customers with long-term power solutions leveraging an innovative mix of photovoltaics (PV), advanced energy storage technology and genset. It offers turnkey solutions encompassing engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) as well as operations and maintenance (O&M) services spanning the African continent, as well as the United States and Canada.

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