THE NIGERIAN ECONOMIC SUMMIT GROUP - The rise of renewable energies worldwide has caused prices of solar, wind and biomass technologies to drop by up to 80 percent. Clean energy has become affordable and communities, companies and nations are switching over. Hannah Kabir of CREEDS Energy describes the clean energy opportunities for Nigeria. A chapter from the Coal Atlas.

More than 10% of global electricity is produced from renewable energies, and the trend is rising. The UN programme on Sustainable Energy for All thinks that the percentage can rise to 45% of global power production in the year 2030. The rise of clean energy will bring a sharp fall in demand for coal power, which is already slowing down as some of America’s biggest banks are divesting from coal. Nigeria might soon be offered ‘tokunbo’ coal power plants for importation, as industrialised nations are phasing out coal.

The rise of renewables goes hand-in-hand with the trend towards decentralized power generation. A growing number of power plants operate independently of the national grid, providing clean energy to citizens. Their size can range from large-scale megawatt grids to small-scale options of just a few kilowatts for a single household or business. The world’s largest private bank, Zurich based UBS, advised its clients and investors in 2014 that national grids are “not relevant” for future electricity generation, and that centralized power stations will become redundant within 10 - 20 years as electric cars, cheaper batteries and new solar technologies transform the way electricity is generated, stored and distributed.

South Africa, known for its heavy dependence on coal power has in less than four years added 4,322 megawatt of renewable energy capacity. The competitiveness of renewables vis-à-vis fossil based power generation is evident in one of South Africa’s renewable energy investments: the Cookhouse wind farm feeds 138 megawatt of clean power into the grid at 5 US cents per kWh - half the price of new coal.

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