Phanes Group, a Dubai-headquartered solar energy developer and investment manager, has this week acquired the development contract for 300 MW of new solar PV capacity in Nigeria.
The first project will entail a 100 MW solar farm in the countrys Sokoto region, with the first 50 MW phase of the plant penciled in for completion in the first quarter of 2018, and the entire plant scheduled to be online before the end of that year.
An additional two 100 MW solar plants are mooted for 2019, located in the Mando area of Kadnuna, and Birnin-Kebbi in Kebbi. All regions selected boast some of the highest irradiation levels in Nigeria.
Phanes Group has signed a power purchase agreement (PPA) with some of the countrys utility-scale solar power developers, and for the 2019 farms will partner with local developers under the brand Hasken-Rana.
The Dubai developer has also opened a new Nigerian office that will oversee the development, management and operations of the three solar farms, while also serving Phanes broader West African solar interests.
Nigeria is slowly warming to the possibilities of tapping its vast solar resource, eyeing PV as the perfect leapfrog technology for expediting its energy growth targets. The government hopes to connect 75% of the country to the grid by 2020, at a rate of 1.5 million households a year.
Large-scale solar farm development will aid this expansion, and will also play a starring role in Nigerias off-grid ambitions. Currently, a typical Nigerian pays up to 80 times more for each unit of light than somebody residing in London or New York, according to a recent report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).
"Nigerias policy makers have worked proactively to address the nations immediate and long term electrification challenges through the introduction of attractive clean energy policies, and we are beginning to see the fruits of those policies," said Martin Haupts, CEO of Phanes Group.
"Despite its challenges, Nigerias potential for solar development is unquestionable and from a standing start it may soon emerge as solar leader among its sub-Saharan African peers," continued Haupts. "These new commercially viable projects demonstrate the strength of public, private partnerships whilst setting Nigeria on positive to course greater energy security and economic development a model for African solar deployment.
"In parallel with our utility scale grid-connected work we will pursue and deploy solar to Nigerias rural communities where citizens are being held back by a lack of electrification helping to transform the lives of millions of Nigerians."