‘Why Nigerians Should Embrace Solar Energy’
Sir Godwin Chibuka, Managing Director of GONEC Energy Resource, marketers of solar generator lighting, sales and installation of investors, solar batteries and panels; spoke with The Vortex in his office located at the Ikoku Spare Parts market, Port Harcourt; Excepts.
What is solar energy?
Solar energy is a new innovation in alternative power supply for homes and businesses. It is new to a lot of people especially in Nigeria. It is a self generating power system that vitalizes and draws energy from the solar system; sunlight and heat waves around the environment.
The innovation in solar energy and its introduction in Nigeria arise because the country cannot offer 24 hour light, so we decided to venture into the business. The solar power system has been popular and embraced in developed countries as a means to have alternatives power supply.
How have Nigerians embraced solar power?
Well, people have been patronizing and keying into solar power usage but government policies have not helped to create the awareness for massive investment in the sector. Solar power services is capital intensive; it costs a lot of money between N80-N90,000 at least to assemble and install. The economic challenge of the nation has affected the purchasing power presently, unlike, when we started the business before 2015, during the last administration. Now people are more concerned to care for family needs, rather than investing personal resources into power. May I say that that the government is not doing enough to solve those serial challenges of the people?
The power sector seems worsening; how can Nigerians maximize the solar power technology?
Solar power as an alternative means of energy can be promoted through public awareness. Although the government is trying in its way to support and encourage people to venture into it, more needs to be done. Government should liberalize and allow for free duty importation of solar panels to make it easy for people to invest in the sector. Solar is an alternative noiseless innovation for power supply in the sense that you don’t get to hear of all those disturbing, violent and harmful incidents you get from other power supply sources. It is easy to maintain, the energy is renewable and environmental friendly. We encourage Nigerians to go into solar to solve and compliment their energy needs.
How do you think the government can invest or assist Nigerians to afford solar power services?
Yes, it is the responsibility of government to provide public infrastructures like electricity to the people and the people must pay for the services. Alternatively government can also subsidize and introduce policies that can make the technology affordable to the people. You have to also know that the solar technology came with safety devices and measures that make it difficult for people to easily vandalize it as is done to public power infrastructures or installations in Nigeria. It is the duty of the government to devise ways to ensure that the panels and other items used for its installations are made affordable to the populace
After 59 years of nationhood how can Nigeria solve the perennial power problems?
The fact is that our leaders have failed in fixing the public power supply and the general wellbeing of the people. The country is generating about 3000megawatts of power; but how can Nigerians do with such meager supply in a large population as we have. Solar power is the ideal alternative. Although there are appliances solar power may not carry such as air-condition, fridges and others, it can serve and complement the epileptic public power in the country. The Nigerian government needs to engage the needed expertise and technocrats to manage the energy and power sectors.
How would you rate the level of patronage from the government, corporate bodies and individuals?
I can say, we have received more patronage from the private people and the corporate organizations like the NDDC, Shell and other high network individuals and organizations also need the service.
Can you give an insight into the range and costs of solar service?
The range of solar panels depends on individual and specific needs. We have ranges of 1kg up to 40kg. It all depends on what is to be powered and your financial capacity. Like 1kg may cost up to N300,000 with batteries, panels and installation services. It is possible that individuals can cooperatively contribute funds to install solar power water pumps or borehole services.