We’ve begun a $325.8m solar cells plant project – NASENI boss

The executive vice-chairman and chief executive officer of the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI), Prof. Mohammad Sani Haruna, on Friday said the agency had embarked on a $325,860,690 Solar Cells Production Plant to make power cheaper and affordable.

According to him, the plant is a game-changer in the nation’s energy sector.

He said although the agreement for the production plant was initially signed in July 2013, the intervention of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo made the project take off.

He said the agency’s goal was to use science, technology, innovation, and engineering to advance local content interventions in power sector reforms.

Haruna made the disclosures in an address at the foundation laying for NASENI Solar Cells Production Plant in Gora, Nasarawa state.

He said the commencement of the plant signalled the implementation of one of the three projects contained in the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between NASENI and the China Great Wall Industry Corporation (CGWIC).

“The cost of solar energy is still beyond the affordability of an average Nigerian hence the necessity of this project. When fully commissioned, the price of per watt of solar power supply will be cheap enough to be affordable to everyone and it is a game changer in energy and power supply industry as well as industrial development of Nigeria.

“This production and research plant consists of four main production sections on a 15.8-hectare land which are:  (a) Polysilicon section of 1,000 ton per annum; (b) Ingot of 50MW per annum; (c) Wafers of 50MW per annum; and (d) Solar cells of 50MW per annum

“It will cost a total of $171,970,000USD with 85% funding equivalent of $146,174,500USD support from China Africa Development (CAD) fund through the Bank of China and 15% local counterpart funding, equivalent of $25,795,500USD from Nigeria.

“The other two projects are Electric Power Transformer Production Plant at $123,990,000USD and High Voltage Testing Laboratory at $29,900,690USD. The total cost approved for the three projects is $325,860,690 and a total of $276,981,586.5 representing 85% is from China. The 15% counterpart for the three projects is $48,879,103.5 and NASENI has in installments remitted up to 46.89% or $22,921,505.40 of the 15 percent ($48,879,103.5).”

Haruna commended President Muhammadu Buhari, who is the chairman of NASENI Governing Board, for according the agency a new status which has fast-tracked its innovations, and thanked the vice-president for making the plant project a reality.

He said President Buhari and NASENI were still “quite uncomfortable with the status of energy supply in Nigeria and have embarked on the use of science, technology, innovation, and engineering to advance local content interventions in power sector reforms.

“Our intervention using different products of solar energy alternatives and climate smart solutions was carefully thought out with identified phases from ideation to commercialisation.”

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