Why FG sited N71.19bn solar cell factory in Nasarawa —Osinbajo
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, on Friday, in Nasarawa State, said the abundance of Silicon and Silica—major raw materials for the production of solar cells—informed the siting of the NASENI solar cells production plant in Gora, Karu Local Government Area of the state.
“The major raw material requirements for the production of solar cells—Silicon and Silica—are naturally occurring in abundance in this area. We are grateful to the good people of Nasarawa for hosting this important project,” Osinbajo said at the foundation-laying ceremony of the N71.19bn ($171.97m) facility he described as the first solar cell factory in West Africa.
Osinbajo noted that the ceremony was a culmination of a decade’s work by the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure which the Buhari regime has funded through a one per cent annual allocation from the federation account.
He said the project is necessary because it would be “clearly unsustainable” to add more carbon emissions to the $50bn worth of diesel fuel used in sub-Saharan Africa every year.
The thinking, the VP said, is in line with Nigeria’s Energy Transition Plan, which projects an increase in solar power use in the Nigerian energy mix, surpassing gas by 2035.
According to Osinbajo, “The prudent decision to site the factory in Gora, Nasarawa State, leverages translational research into the biogeography, geological surveys and mining cadastral reconnaissance that has positioned Nasarawa as the home of solid minerals in Nigeria.
“The major raw material requirements for producing Solar cells—Silicon and Silica—are naturally abundant in this area.
“We are grateful to the good people of Nasarawa for hosting this important project and congratulate you in advance for the positive boost it is certain to bring to the local economy.”
He stated that “this landmark achievement places Nigeria within the ranks of countries pushing the boundaries in using climate-smart alternative energy sources, particularly solar power.
“And as we have heard, this particular project is building on 10 years of work. 10 years ago, NASENI established its 7.5MW solar panel production plant. Its capacity is now 21MW.”
The Vice President observed, “NASENI’s solar cell production factory will be a game-changer, given the urgency of climate action today and the importance of developing African green energy manufacturing and solutions.”
He hoped the facility would “meet and surpass all our expectations when it becomes fully operational.”
The VP congratulated the government and the people of Nasarawa State, as well as the NASENI leadership led by its executive Vice Chair, Prof. Mohammed Haruna, on behalf of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), who is the Chairman of the governing board.
In his remarks, the Governor of Nasarawa State, Abdullahi Sule, thanked the Vice President for his concern towards the development of the State, country and the welfare of its people.
“We also in Nasarawa State knowing that you touched lives, will never forget you, we remain grateful to you, sir, in office and out of office,” Sule said.
Earlier in his remarks, the Executive Vice Chairman of NASENI, Prof. Mohammed Haruna, noted that the plant, which covers 15.8 hectares of land, comprises a polysilicon section with a capacity of 1,000 tons per annum, an Ingot section of 50MW per annum, Wafers of 50MW per annum and Solar cells of 50MW per annum.
He said, “It will cost a total of $171,970,000 (N71.19bn) with 85 per cent funding equivalent of $146,174,500 (N67.31bn) support from China Africa Development fund through the Bank of China and 15 per cent local counterpart funding, an equivalent of $25,795,500 (N11.88bn) from Nigeria.
“The other two projects are the Electric Power Transformer Production Plant at $123,990,000 and the High Voltage Testing Laboratory at $29,900,690. The total cost approved for the three projects is $325,860,690 and a total of $276,981,586.5 representing 85 per cent is from China.”
Haruna explained that the 15 per cent counterpart for the three projects is $48.88m and NASENI has in instalments remitted up to 46.89 per cent or $22.92m of the 15 percent ($48.88m).
He projected that an excess capacity of polysilicon and future expansion of wafers and solar cell production would lead to exportation for foreign exchange earnings.
Dignitaries at the event included the APC National Chairman, Sen. Abdullahi Adamu; Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo; Emir of Lafia HRM Justice Sidi Dauda Bage; and the Emir of Keffi, Dr Shehu Chindo Yamusa III, among others