Colorado-based Husk Power Systems has inaugurated six mini-grids in Nigeria’s Nasarawa State, providing clean and reliable electricity to around 5,000 households and 500 businesses in the Doma and Lafia local government areas.
Husk in September received backing from the Nigerian Electrification Project (NEP) to install seven solar mini-grids, with the seventh expected next year. The company referred to the networks as “solar hybrid” mini grids and has elsewhere installed photovoltaics alongside battery and biomass generation, with the latter featuring the gasification of waste rice husks which gives the company its name.
Husk stated its ambition to expand its mini grid program into several states of Nigeria by 2024, with expectations of “a fleet of more than 100 mini-grids in Nigeria within the next 24 months, growing to 500 mini-grids by 2026.”
Nigeria has made mini-grids a centerpiece of its electrification policy. The nation's NEP initiative is funded by the World Bank and the African Development Bank and implemented by Nigeria’s Rural Electrification Agency.
World Bank expands support for Nigerian mini-grids
NEP features a performance-based grant scheme pv magazine has previously reported in more detail. Under the World Bank-backed scheme, mini-grid developers can claim $350 for each electricity user connected to their networks.
The World Bank told pv magazine in 2019 that, together with the Nigerian Rural Electrification Agency, it planned to conduct a tender to set the level of such a performance grant for some 250 Nigerian mini-grids. A procurement exercise of that nature, the international development body said at the time, could significantly drive down the $350-per-user figure.
Husk, however, has told pv magazine developers now receive more than $350 for each electricity user connected.
A spokesperson for the company said only a small percentage of NEP's performance grants have been allocated thus far, adding: “There is no limiting factor to the number of mini-grids built in Nigeria as long as [developers] abide by the regulations.”
There was no tender involved with the mini-grids installed by Husk, with the company instead signing an agreement with the local authority and submitting its plans to the Rural Electrification Agency for approval and for allocation of performance grants. Developers will, typically, also have to secure other permits, relating to matters such as environmental impact assessments and technical and safety standards.
Whether the World Bank has abandoned, or delayed plans for tender-set performance grants, the latest networks established by Husk appear to signal expanded financial backing for Nigeria's electrification ambition.
Commenting on the Husk networks, Ashish Khanna, World Bank acting regional director for infrastructure in Africa West and Africa East, said: “The World Bank is a proud partner of the [Nigerian] government’s NEP. It is two years ago that the first solar mini-grid was commissioned under NEP, at Rokota village, since then significant progress has been made with 359 private sector led solar mini-grid projects under development, with the potential to provide electricity to 1.1 million people.”
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