SOLAR MICROGRID INTERVIEW: “Renewvia is working on its inaugural project in Nigeria in Oloibiri, Bayelsa State and has a large and growing solar microgrid development pipeline in the Niger Delta.”

1.    Let’s start with some background on you and your organisation, Renewvia Energy.
Renewvia Energy Corporation is a top 500 Global Solar Developer headquartered in the U.S. It designs, installs, owns and operates commercial and community solar power systems. Renewvia provides a complete range of solar energy solutions including turnkey solar installation, integrated financing and solar consulting services. Represented in three distinct geographic regions, Africa, South America and the United States, Renewvia has made impacts in corporate, utility, commercial and community-based developments.

2.    Any energy projects that you are involved in in the region currently that you are particularly excited about at the moment?
Renewvia is in design and engineering on its inaugural project in Nigeria in Bayelsa State in the community of Oloibiri. The community is currently procuring power from a common 350kva diesel generator that runs for less than 6 hours every other day. Renewvia is developing a solar microgrid to provide a much more reliable and affordable source of power for the community and eventually allow the complete alleviation of the diesel generation. Renewvia has a large and growing solar microgrid development pipeline in the Niger Delta.

3.    Any specific success stories you can share?
Renewvia’s first two microgrid success stories are in the country of Kenya on islands in Lake Victoria. Renewvia is one of only a few fully regulatory compliant and licensed microgrid operators in the country and is currently serving as an Independent Power Producer for two communities with an additional 14 permitted. The microgrid provides power throughout the day and night where all the power for residential and commercial subscribers is procured on a prepaid basis.

Caption: Renewvia’s first two microgrid success stories are in the country of Kenya on islands in Lake Victoria

4.    What in your view are the challenges to the energy sector in Nigeria and the region?
The most significant challenge is a sustainable and conventional funding source accepting of the microgrid prepaid space assumptions for debt and equity service. Operational challenges exist but funding is materially more so than physical execution and operation.

5.    How optimistic are you about business opportunities in Nigeria’s energy future?
Extremely optimistic for this country and solar microgrid development. The private sector is needed to help solve rural electrification in a timeline acceptable to the general population. Many of the communities are accustomed to the convenience of modern electrical appliances but are forced to pay exorbitant tariffs for a power source that is unreliable and unaffordable. Many thousands of microgrids are needed to satisfy demand thus creating a development opportunity that is expansive and growing.

6.    What is your vision for the energy sector in the region?
The rural electrification sector is mature relative to Kenya where homes have electrical distribution and are utilizing the basics as much as possible with individual or community generators.

Institutional development opportunity exists for those entities that can get a demonstrated success up and running.

7.    At the upcoming Future Energy Nigeria conference, in the Generation Knowledge Hub Programme, you are presenting a case study “Community microgrid pre-development preparedness and challenges” – can you give us a preview of what your message will be at the event?
I will outline our methodology of generator sizing, community integration/education, material transport and security, manually unloading of one vessel to loading of another, installation, distribution and subscriber line drips, commissioning, site management, prepaid meter structure and power house construction.

8.    What are you most looking forward to at Future Energy Nigeria?
Learning anything and everything about updated regulation and capital appetite.

More photographs of Renewvia’s first two microgrid projects in Kenya: