BY IRENE DAVID-ARINZE
“Up Solar, Up Solar.” These were the euphoric chants of Mafolabomi who runs a small provision store in Igbonla community along the coast in Ilaje LGA in Ondo state.
The community, which has never been connected to the national grid, had depended on fossil fuel generators, candles, firewood, and kerosene lanterns for a long time.
However, in 2018 after A4&T Power Solutions, a renewable energy solar solutions company, got funded by United States African Development Foundation (USADF), a 30 kilowatts solar mini-grid was installed in the community the next year.
Mafolabomi had been spending an average of N30, 000 monthly on fuel to run her generator, but with the installation of the 30KW mini-grid, she would now cut her monthly expenditure by half.
Joseph Ojo, whose solar company executed the project, had embarked on what he called community scoping and survey which entailed community identification and assessment. He was excited to see how business activities in hotels, bars, and provision stores, among others, had opened up as a result of the solar solution.
Gwam community in Niger state, with a population of about 2000 and situated 20 kilometres from Minna, had also never been connected to the national grid.
After getting awarded to deploy the solar solution by USADF through their implementing partners in Nigeria, Diamond Development Initiative, the community started benefitting 24 hours electricity and arguably more power supply than those in urban areas.
Solomon Enejo who introduced solar power to the community said more can be achieved.
“We are not even using the full capacity of the 57kW installation,” he said.
While the solar option provides many Nigerians with reliable power supply, many are yet to understand the need for proper disposal of its components.
NIGERIA’S POWER CHALLENGE
According to data by the World Bank, 85 million Nigerians lack access to electricity, representing 43 percent of the country’s population. This statistic makes Nigeria the country with the largest energy access deficit in the world. This has led to the increased need to bridge the energy deficit gap through alternative off-grid sources such as solar home systems, and solar mini-grid solutions among others.
In an analysis, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and Deloitte show the rise in cumulative import value of panels, lead acid batteries, inverters and lithium-ion batteries between 1 January 2018 and 31 August 2021.
There has been a sporadic rise in the demand for solar installations, in a bid to solve the power problem, however, a greater challenge lurks ahead.
While the use of solar serves as a solution to the nation’s energy deficit, solar power components have a finite lifespan. Once these components reach their end of life, users are tempted to simply throw them away in landfills or hand them over to informal recyclers.
SOLAR PANELS AND BATTERIES CONSTITUTE ELECTRONIC WASTE </…….