Why Solar Power Won’t Work in Nigeria…

Reporting from Nigeria: Emeka Nweze

NEPA is acronym. It stands for National Electric Power Authority. Upon completion of this entry however, it is my intention to use all means necessary to contact this “organization”. The formal complaint I intend to lodge is a simple one. The acronym is a misnomer or, at the very least, a poor representative of the service provided by this organization. How many books have been cast aside in frustration, how many social engagements foiled, how many pounds of melted food-stuffs dumped into the garbage, how many movie endings ruined, is a number I dare not contemplate lest the despair I’m plunged into cannot be clawed out of.

Actually, the power/electricity debacle that seems exclusively endemic to Nigeria makes for a perfect representation of just how markets work in this part of the globe. Unlike say the Scandinavians, we have been blessed (or cursed; it depends on what weather suits you) with a continent that is almost constantly bathed, saturated even, in sunshine. It is so hot here that one wonders, upon arrival and initial struggles with the infamous services of NEPA, why the idea SOLAR PANELS never popped into the noggin of some progressive entrepreneur. A few days of observation should answer this query, but since you may not have that long, I am more than happy to fill you in.

There are many excuses given for a solution as simple as solar panels. The most salient of them are cost, implementation, maintenance. I will show the absurdity of these excuses in alphabetical order.

The cost is ridiculous! Solar energy simply isn’t feasible for Nigeria! Actually, the reason why solar energy isn’t practical for certain regions such as Finland for example is the tendency for the sun to play “hard to get” during certain periods of the year. In a region such as say…Nigeria with no snow and occasional showers, solar energy would be a pushover. Unfortunately, solar energy would put manufacturers of fuel based generators out of business in a year.

How are we going to set it up? It would be a nightmare! Billions would be wasted converting the energy culture of a 160 million strong country! Are you insane! Actually, solar panels would be easier to implement for two reasons. Firstly, it would make each consumer dependent only on maintenance/customer service NOT power transfer from some distant dam or plan. Secondly, if a financial agreement were reached with a company, it would be a question of logistics (how to maximize, focus and direct electromagnetic radiation). The setup would be the least of our worries. Unfortunately, solar energy would put manufacturers of fuel based generators out of business in a year.

How are we supposed to maintain these things? Actually, solar panels can be designed in categories that fit with the energy requirement of the residence/building in question. It would actually save the billions spent on the implementation of power lines to people living without power. Plus, contemporary design of these panels eliminates constant maintenance. They rarely fall over, are built to withstand snow (which we don’t have), hail (which we don’t have) tornadoes (which we don’t have) and even earthquakes (which we don’t have). Unfortunately, solar energy would put manufacturers of fuel based generators out of business in a year.

I could go on about the man hours lost, the unnecessary casualties, the friction this problem brings to our economic growth. Unfortunately, well…you know.

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