A country can achieve very little in the absence of electricity. Electricity is particularly paramount in universities and research institutions. To ensure constant power in Nigerian universities, the federal government has begun a solar electrification program for universities. The latest is the inauguration of a ‘hybrid’ plant in Bayero University, Kano (BUK). Consequently, this hybrid plant is the largest in the country and one of the largest in Africa. Speaking about the project, the Managing Director of Rural Electrification Agency (REA), Mrs. Damilola Ogunbiyi said,
“This is the largest off-grid solar hybrid power plant in Africa; one we, as Nigerians, should be very proud of. Thanks to the commitment of the Federal Government towards sustainable energy and education. Students and staff of Bayero University, Kano can now experience learning and teaching in a safer, cleaner and more conducive academic environment.”
Under the REA, the focus of the federal government is developing off-grid independent power plants. However, there is also the rehabilitation of the existing distribution infrastructure. This is to ensure clean, reliable and safe power to all the 37 federal universities in the country and 7 affiliate teaching hospitals.
The benefits of the solar plant to Bayero University and the country
The off-grid solar project at Bayero University comprises of 3.5MWp of solar PV and 8.1MWh of battery energy storage. Consequently, over 55,000 students and 3,000 staff will benefit from the project. Also, around 3,000 streetlights will get its energy from the solar power plant. Further stressing the importance of the project, Mr. Evangelos Kamaris, the Managing Director, METKA West Africa Limited said,
“The state-of-the-art solar hybrid power plant will result in carbon dioxide savings of 108,875,120Ibs, a feat we as green contractors are proud of. believes strongly in Nigeria and the vision of its leadership in the power sector.”
Another major highlight of the event was the graduation of 20 female students who were part of the Female STEM Student Internship Program. The female students that got practical training during the Bayero University project construction were issued certificates. Consequently, the initiative is also encouraging young women to take up STEM jobs.
The different phases of the Energizing Education Program (EEP)
The 37 federal universities in the country will receive the power plant in phases. Phase 1 of the EEP is funded by the Nigerian government. This phase will cover 9 universities and 1 teaching hospital. However, Phase 2 and 3 will be funded by the World Bank and the African Development Bank. Alex Ekwueme Federal University Ndufu Alike Ikwo (FUNAI), Ebony State, was the first to benefit from the megawatt-scale hybrid project in August.
Inasmuch as there is a backup generator in the Bayero University project, its use will be limited. According to METKA, the project utilizes modular off-grid system technology from Exeron, an energy conversion specialist and a global power electronics.