Africa’s ‘largest off-grid solar hybrid’ goes online at Nigerian University BUK

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3.5MWp of solar PV, 8.1MWh of battery energy storage and 2.4MW of backup generators will supply more than 55,000 students, 3,000 staff and nearly 3,000 streetlights at BUK. Image: METKA.

The latest project to be switched on in Nigeria’s solar electrification programme for universities is also thought to be the largest ‘hybrid’ plant of its kind on the African continent so far, inaugurated this week at Bayero University Kano (BUK). reported towards the beginning of August as the first megawatt-scale hybrid project went into action at Alex Ekwueme Federal University Ndufu Alike Ikwo (FUNAI), Ebonyi State. Nigerian vice president Yemi Osinbajo attended that ceremony, heralding the launch of the wider Energizing Education Programme (EEP), being delivered through the country’s Rural Electrification Agency (REA). Osinbajo said then that the programme would result in the decommissioning of “hundreds” of fossil fuel generators. 

In total, 37 universities and seven teaching hospitals will benefit. In addition, the programme includes other initiatives such as encouraging young women into STEM education and jobs, while the latest project at BUK also includes the further benefit of powering hundreds of local street lights.

Phase 1 of EEP, funded by the Nigerian government, will help nine universities and a teaching hospital. Phases 2 and 3 are set to be funded by the World Bank and the African Development Bank respectively.

A factsheet produced by the REA in July says the project at BUK totals 7.1MW capacity, combining 3.5MWp of solar PV generation from 10,680 solar panels, 2.4MW of backup generators and 8.1MWh of battery energy storage.

As with the project at FUNAI, the reduction of use in petrol and diesel generators will be significant at the site. METKA said the project has used modular off-grid system technology from global power electronics and energy conversion specialist Exeron.

Contractor Metka emailed to report from the BUK project’s commissioning, with METKA Power West Africa president Evangelos Kamaris stating that the company “believes strongly in Nigeria and the vision of its leadership in the power sector,” praising efforts of president Muhammadu Buhari. 

VP Yemi Osinbajo was again in attendance at the launch, commending METKA for its work, restating the aims of the EEP and noting its positive impact on education for young women and in providing direct job opportunities.

Meanwhile, REA managing director Damilola Ogunbiyi said that the BUK project is Africa’s largest off-grid solar hybrid power plant and “one we, as Nigerians, should be very proud of,” adding that more than 55,000 students and 3,000+ staff at the university will benefit, while 2,850 streetlights can be powered by the solar-plus-storage solution too.

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