Energy Transition- Impact on the Nigeria Power Sector


Introduction:  Energy transition encompasses a movement from the use of fossil fuel such as coal, crude oil and natural gas in our energy supply system to a system based on energy generated from renewable sources such as solar, wind and geothermal energy. Fossil energy sources are limited and usually reserve based. In addition, in order to generate energy from fossil sources, a large quantity of it is burned leading to grave adverse effects on the environment. e.g. current droughts in East Africa, rising sea levels etc.

Effect of Energy Transition

Energy transition is driven primarily by the desire to reduce environmental harm caused by continuous burning of fossil fuels and the emission of carbon monoxide into the atmosphere. Reliance on fossil fuel tends to discriminate against other technological advancements with regards to generating electricity as the current electricity structure is mainly based on the use of fossil fuel.

Rojey[1] explains that improving energy efficiency, increasing the share of low-carbon energy sources in our energy mix, and introducing Carbon Capture and storage facilities can help reduce CO2 emissions in a considerable way.

Rojey lists examples of actions that are required for a successful energy transition, namely ensuring technological progress to support new technologies that limit CO2 emissions, defining new energy governance rules that go beyond legislation, and introducing a new lifestyle that are less energy intensive.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), because of the worldwide energy transition scheme, global renewable-based power capacity is expected to grow by 60% from 2020 till 2026 and is also to account for 95% of the increase in global power capacity by 2026, with solar energy being the key technological driver.[2]

Energy Transition in Nigeria

Nigeria currently has one of the highest rates of energy poverty in the world. Most households especially in underdeveloped regions of the country, have no access to electricity. Conversely, biomass and waste are the primary sources of energy for cooking, especially in rural areas. About 90 million people, amounting to about 45% of Nigerians, have no access to electricity[3]. In February 2021, the World Bank reported that up to 85 million Nigerians, representing 43% of the country’s population, had no access to electricity, a statistic that resulted in annual economic losses for the country estimated at $26.2 billion (N10.1 trillion).[4]

The transition is a necessity in Nigeria, not only because it provides environmental gains, but also because Nigeria’s current electricity infrastructure is mainly characterized by an unstable grid and infrastructure systems that have become obsolete and demand disproportionate logistics to keep the electricity running.

As of March 02 2022, the Nigeria Electricity System Operator (SO) under the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) reported a grid generation installed capacity of 13,014.14 MW, actual generation capacity of 7,652.6 MW, daily peak generation of 4,470.1 MW, transmission wheeling capacity of 8,100 MW and a national peak demand forecast of 19,798 MW.[5]

The Nigerian electricity sector has gone through some changes in recent times, with the aim to address some of the inherent challenges of the sector, including the partial liberalization of the electricity market. However, some of the problems persist.

Most of the power plants in Nigeria use fossil fuels, while others use hydro resources followed by solar energy and wind. Electricity generated from wind, biomass, solar etc are not fed into the grid. They are usually diverted to serve rural areas and places that are underserved. Off-grid electrification has consequently been developing fast, as the power sector focuses on providing mini-grids, solar home systems and solar photovoltaic systems.

In addressing the need of Nigeria to improve their electricity system infrastructure, there is need to replace the obsolete power infrastructure. This quest, together with the need to reduce our carbon emissions and adapt to the effect of climate change, begets the idea of an energy transition as this will foster the sector to flourish, by providing more electrical power from cleaner energy source without an adverse effect which is detrimental to the environment.

Nigeria had recently launched its energy transition plan to achieve universal energy access by 2030 and a carbon-neutral economy by 2060 to tackle poverty and climate change. The World Bank and the US Export-Import Bank (EximBank) have pledged a sum of $3 billion to boost the implementation of Nigeria’s energy transition plan. The international organizations made the pledge on August 24. 2022 at the official global launching of the Energy Transition Plan by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo.


Technological options that are more sustainable should be explored; whilst energy consumption patterns that are more energy intensive should be addressed. To enable the energy transition process, an investment in the power sector should be enabled. The public funding of the sector by the government can attract private investors, this will necessitate long term plans as well as infrastructure development, which in turn will help in the reduction of carbon emission and encourage low carbon energy sources in our energy mix as well as introduce modern technology such as Carbon Capture and storage facilities.


[1] Rojey A (2009) Energy & climate: how to achieve a successful energy transition, 1st edn. John Wiley Sons Ltd., Chichester

[2] International Energy Agency; Renewables 2021 – Analysis and forecast to 2026 (IEA December 2021).

[3] REA (2017) PROJECT STATUS—Total completed projects in 2017. In: Rural Electrification Agency.

[4] < services-to-citizens.

[5] See Nigerian Electricity System Operator, ‘OPERATIONAL REPORT OF 02/03/2022’ (Nsong, 2022)

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