By Boluwatife Akinola,
Godfrey Eze &
Nigerian universities lack the capacity to produce solar lights for commercial use due to poor research funding and necessary motivation, experts have revealed.
The Hope investigation revealed that Nigeria has a huge market for solar lights as many people are now patronizing them, most of which were imported due to the epileptic power supply in the country.
The experts said although the nation’s ivory towers have the human capacity to produce solar components and make solar lights affordable in the country but research institutes that could provide the needed expertise are poorly funded.
They, however, observed that solar power can serve as alternative source of energy to the epileptic power supply in the country, but it could not power industrial machines.
The country presently generates an average of 4,000 megawatts of electricity for an estimated population of 230million people, instead of a minimum of 30,000 megawatts it needs to meet the current demand.
This epileptic power supply has pushed Nigerians to embrace solar energy, especially in homes and offices.
However, in spite of the abundance of the Sun energy which can be tapped in the country, Nigeria is still very far behind in terms of solar energy production.
The experts who spoke on the development attributed the problem to lack of funds for research in both the Universities, Polytechnics and other research insituts in the country.
They stressed the need for collaborative efforts between educational institutions, industries, and the government to harness the country’s solar energy resources effectively to avoid over reliance on electricity.
Prof. Melodi Adegoke, from the Department of Electrical and Electronics Engineering at the Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA), emphasised that Nigeria lacks the factories and technology needed to manufacture solar equipment.
He stressed that while universities focus on teaching and research, the practical aspect of fabrication for commercial use remains a challenge, recommending that research centres require substantial funding to establish manufacturing facilities.
While highlighting the presence of skilled students capable of creating basic equipment, the don emphasized the need for resources to scale up production.
“Nigeria experiences an average of five hours of sunshine daily. To harness solar energy effectively, significant investments in solar panels and storage solutions are essential. The main constraint is not the sun itself but the technology and infrastructure needed to capture and store the energy,” he said.
Also, Prof Aklintunde Aremu, Mech Engineering Department, FUTA, stated that the importation of solar energy equipment is currently unavoidable as there are no resources to produce major solar energy components in Nigeria’s institutions.
“There must be willingness on the side of the government, or private institutions because money is needed.
“There’s nothing that is being produced in this world that Nigeria can not produce, even the solar panel we can produce it but somebody should be ready to give out the money and commission people that will do it.
“If people are migrating to solar, the BEDC has nothing to lose because they don’t distribute enough to the customers. If they believe they are going to lose, they should provide prepaid meters for everybody so that people will know what they are using. Many people do not know what they are using they are just paying money to the company,” he added.
Similarly, Prof Mogaji Stephen, who highlighted the potential of solar energy as a valuable resource for Nigeria provided it receives adequate support, stressed the importance of financial backing from both Federal and State governments to facilitate the local production of solar energy equipment.
He, however, pointed out that that solar energy is not feasible in industrial settings like sawmills or large-scale farming operations, underscoring the need for adequate electricity distribution across the country.
On his part, Prof Romanus Eze of the Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Nigeria, Nsukka who believed that the Nigerian government does not support research, attributed dearth of research in solar energy to politicisation of TETFUND, lack of funding and brain drain among skilled experts.
While saying Nigeria has abundant Sun to harness for power generation, the scholar said over reliance on electricity will stop if the right support is given to solar power production in the country.
Other experts, Dr. Olaide Agbolade and Mr Adeola Oredola disclosed that the country’s inability to produce essential components like solar panels, batteries, and inverters was due to limited innovations in universities and polytechnics.