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The feasibility of decarbonising Nigeria

Wale Yusuff, managing director of Wärtsilä Nigeria. (Image source: Wärtsilä)

According to Wale Yusuff, managing director of Wärtsilä Nigeria, decarbonising Nigeria is feasible with current power technologies and will not cost more

Yusuff, speaking at the 2023 Energy Transition Forum to leading energy experts and prominent private and public organisations, explained how the most advanced studies have shown that decarbonising Nigeria is not only feasible, but could also be done in a way that lowers the cost of electricity going forward.

“A lot of Nigerians still think that a renewable energy-based power system is expensive and unreliable, but it doesn’t have to be. On the contrary, I am confident we can reach universal and reliable access to low-cost clean power provided we don’t lose sight of the big picture strategy and develop the power system in logical steps. All the technologies needed for a net zero power system in Nigeria are already a reality: renewables, energy storage, balancing power plants, and sustainable fuels such as green hydrogen, ammonia, and methanol. These are the key ingredients needed to achieve our green electrification goals. When these technologies are combined in an adequate fashion, they deliver the lowest cost of electricity. Smart planning, strategy and transparent government regulations will do the rest,” remarked Yusuff. 

Continuing, he explained that with wind and solar the cheapest source of new electricity available, the massive deployment could significantly bring the overall system costs down. However, as renewables continue to have a more dominant role in the energy network, the volatility of the system will increase. Therefore, grid flexibility will be key and will have to become a cornerstone of the country’s decarbonisation efforts. 

To meet the growth of Nigeria’s electricity demand, the country’s power infrastructure must also be quickly expanded and modernised, both in terms of generation and transmission. “Bridging our infrastructure gap will require the union of different market forces: financing institutions both multilateral and local, government planning and private capital involvement,” said Yusuff.

Last year, Wärtsilä released a report which provides a realistic roadmap showing how Nigeria should proceed to build a 100% renewable energy power system by 2060.  It shows that Nigeria has everything it needs to successfully accomplish its electrification goals. It benefits from fantastic solar energy resources, but it also has significant, and largely untapped gas resources which is a key transitional energy source. That is why, according to Wärtsilä, gas infrastructure must also be rapidly ramped up 

Engine power plants offer the advantage of being able to run on different fuels, from natural gas and heavy fuel oil today, to locally-produced green hydrogen, ammonia, and methanol tomorrow as they become competitive and broadly available. 

Future fuels are quickly becoming a reality in Africa, Wärtsilä has stated, and the company’s engine power plants are expected to be able to function on methanol by the end of this year, on green ammonia next year, and on green hydrogen by 2026. 

“The outlook for the use of future fuels in flexible engine power plants is indeed very positive,” concluded Yusuff.