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NASENI breaks ground for $325 million solar cell factory in Nasarawa State

Key highlights

  • NASENI has laid the foundation for a solar cell production factory in Nasarawa state. 85% of the funding for the factory is from China.
  • VP Osinbajo projects that the factory will attract local and foreign investors, kickstarting large-scale solar panel manufacturing in Nigeria
  • NASENI has always been in the solar energy business. The agency is advocating more affordable power supply for Nigerians.

The National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) has laid the foundation for a $325 million solar cell production factory in Gora, Nasarawa state.

During the March 24 foundation laying ceremony, Nigeria’s vice president, Prof Yemi Osinbajo said that the solar cell production factory will lead to solar panel manufacturing in the country. Prof. Osinbajo said:

  • “NASENI’s solar cell production factory in Nigeria will be a game-changer, given the urgency of climate action today and the importance of developing African green energy manufacturing and solutions. The resultant emissions of carbon monoxide have since become a major and worrying source of pollution. 
  • “In Nigeria, for example, generator emissions are equivalent to emissions from all the country’s 11 million cars put together. This landmark achievement places Nigeria within the ranks of countries pushing the boundaries in the use of climate-smart alternative energy sources, particularly solar power. 
  • “This project is being built on 10 years of work. 10years ago, NASENI established its 7.5mw solar panel production plant. Its capacity is now 21MW. For over 10 years, NASENI has been consistent in championing solar power as an alternative to hydro and fossil power sourcing. 
  • “Its output, at full operational capacity, will further impact the solar energy value chain in Nigeria through the low production costs of solar panels. In due course, this will in turn attract new investment, local and foreign, for the establishment of solar panel manufacturing plants across Nigeria.”

What the CEO said

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI), Prof. Mohammad Sani Haruna said the purpose of the plant is to make power cheaper and affordable. Prof. Haruna said:

  • “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 per watt of solar power supply will be cheap enough to be affordable to everyone and it is a game changer in the energy and power supply industry as well as the industrial development of Nigeria.”
  • “This production and research plant consists of four main production sections on 15.8 hectares of land which are: Polysilicon section of 1,000 tons per annum, Ingot of 50MW per annum, Wafers of 50MW per annum, Solar cells of 50MW per annum.
  • “Excess capacity of polysilicon and future expansion of wafers and solar cells production will lead to exportation for foreign exchange earnings.”

Cost implications

According to Prof. Haruna, the total cost approved for the three projects is $325,860,690 and a total of $276,981,586.5, which represents 85% is from China. Meanwhile, the 15% counterpart for the three projects is $48,879,103.5 and NASENI has to remit up to 46.89% or $22,921,505.40 of the 15 per cent ($48,879,103.5). Prof. Haruna said:

  • “The project will cost a total of $171,970,000 with 85% funding equivalent to $146,174,500 support from China Africa Development (CAD) fund through the Bank of China and 15% local counterpart funding, the equivalent of $25,795,500 from Nigeria. The other two projects are Electric Power Transformer Production Plant at $123,990,000 and High Voltage Testing Laboratory at $29,900,690.
  • “The agreement to establish this production plant was initially signed in July 2013 and was renewed in 2018 after surmounting various frustrating obstacles and bureaucratic bottlenecks that almost led to the termination of the project.
  • “But I think the Chief Celebrant today and on this project is, His Excellency, the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo himself because of the role he played to secure the buy-in and approval of the National Economic Council (NEC) under his Chairmanship, on this and other projects of NASENI.”

What you should know

In March 2013, NASENI established NASENI Solar Energy Limited (NSEL) in Karshi, Federal Capital Territory, with a mandate to deliver alternative solar energy to homes and businesses in Nigeria.

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