Faced with limited human capacity in the planning, implementing, monitoring and evaluating renewable energy projects, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Global Environment Facility (GEF) through the Energy Commission of Nigeria (ECN) and other stakeholders are working to curtail the trend.
The agencies have kick-started a project known as De-risking Renewable Energy for the Nigerian power sector to create the enabling environment for building technical capacity of key players.
The Nigerian Electricity Industry (NEI) is dominated with fossil – fueled power plants and less than 30per cent of large-scale hydropower plants. Currently, there is a strong drive by Nigeria to improve electricity access and reduce GHG emissions through the exploitation of renewable energy sources, like solar.
According to the National Project Coordinator/Manager, UND-GEF Derisking Renewable Energy project, Isaac Ierve, an engineer, “one of the challenges militating against large-scale grid-connected renewable energy development is the limited local human and institutional capacity to build, operate and maintain large-scale grid-connected renewable (like, solar) power plants. As a result, renewables have not been able to compete with fossil fuel – based generators.
He told The Guardian that an international Consulting firm, Renewables Academy (RENAC) has been engaged to carry out a “train the trainers programme for technical staff of Lagos Energy Academy, National Power Training Institute (NAPTIN), the Energy Commission of Nigeria (ECN) and other relevant stakeholders.
“This is to enhance their capacity to deliver renewable energy (RE) trainings on the installation of medium to large-scale grid connected PV systems to independent power producers (IPPs), undergraduate students and public institutions on a cost-recovery basis,” he said.
His words: “The Lagos Energy Academy (LEA), the National Power Training Institute (NAPTIN), the Energy Commission of Nigeria (ECN) as well as the representative of a private solar developer were identified to have the potential to deliver renewable trainings to Independent Power Producers (IPP), undergraduate students and public institutions.
“It is believed that when technical officers from these institutions are trained, they will in-turn gradually take over the responsibility of providing technical assistance (installations, operation and maintenance), training and advice to IPPs to ensure that the project is sustained after completion.
Ierve said the main objectives of the programme is to build local capacity in Nigerian engineers and technologist, who will in turn support large-scale Solar PV industries; promote local capacity in the design, construction and maintenance of on-grid solar PV to support the integration of renewable electricity into the grid.
It will also offer medium-to-large-scale solar PV safety and commissioning standard training that will focus on the prevention of unnecessary damage to equipment and persons during large-scale PV installations and operation; train Nigerians on solar PV Troubleshooting and Maintenance services to support local on-grid or large-scale PV industry, improve local O&M skills and mitigate resource and technology risk.
Three officials of the Renewables Academy (RENAC), an international consulting firm, Frank Neumann, Frank Robens and Dr. Emilienne Tingwey conducted the 12-day training exercise, which featured 20 participants.
In the opening ceremony in Lagos, he charged the participants to take the training very seriously because, according to him, the outcome would help Nigeria in scaling up renewable energy investment.