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Renewable Energy Progress: Lessons For Nigeria

800px-Walmart_exterior
By Oladotun M Fadeyiye

Nigeria’s efforts to harness the abundant energy resources available at its disposal still remains herculean task. Nigeria Energy Sector has been lagging behind both in terms of innovation and technological advancement, and this is really taking it toll on Nigeria’s economic development to a very large extent.

Today, nation like US has been one of the pacesetter in Energy conservation and efficiency. Latest report reaching me from US on renewable energy development that motivated me to do this blog says the world’s largest retailer and biggest private employer, Walmart commands attention from Wall Street to Main Street.
The annual Solar Means Business Report, which identifies major commercial solar projects and ranks America’s top corporate solar users, was released this week by SEIA and Vote Solar.  The report found that Walmart is America’s commercial solar leader for the second year in a row with 89 megawatts (MW) installed at 215 locations.

Other companies on the Top 25 list include Costco, Kohl’s, Apple, IKEA, Macy’s, Johnson & Johnson, McGraw Hill, Staples, Campbell’s Soup, U.S. Foods, Bed Bath & Beyond, Kaiser Permanente, Volkswagen, Walgreens, Target, Safeway, FedEx, Intel, L’OREAL, General Motors, Toys “R” Us, White Rose Foods, Toyota, and Dow Jones & Company.

Combined, these companies have deployed 445 MW of solar capacity – a 48 percent increase over a year ago.  Collectively, they’re playing an increasingly important role in the development, expansion and promotion of solar nationwide, while also reducing their operating expenses, benefiting customers and shareholders alike.

Furthermore, the list of companies moving to clean, affordable solar energy reads like a ‘Who’s Who’ of the most successful corporations in America.  Simply put, these iconic brands are leading the way when it comes to efforts to transition to clean, renewable energy.  By doing so, they’re also helping to create thousands of American jobs, boost the U.S. economy and improve our environment. 

Solar growth among these Fortune 100 companies reflects the growth in the U.S. commercial solar sector as a whole.  Through the first half of this year, cumulative commercial solar deployment totaled 3,380 MW at 32,800 facilities throughout the country — a whopping 40 percent increase from last year.

Nowhere is this success and growth in the commercial market more evident than at Apple’s massive solar farm and fuel cell facility in Maiden, North Carolina, which is now providing clean energy for its $1 billion, 500,000 square-foot data center.  This is one of the largest non-utility owned systems in the world and is part of Apple’s bold and visionary plan to use 100 percent clean energy for all its data centers.

For its part, Walmart recently announced that it would ramp up construction of new clean energy projects nationwide, including an expanded use of solar.  The company’s decision to increase its clean energy projects by six-fold puts Walmart on a clear path to become 100 percent supplied by renewable energy by 2020.  This “lead-by-example” approach will not only benefit the company’s 2 million employees and 150 million shoppers, but it will also significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, help the U.S. economy and stimulate American innovation.  It’s a win-win for everyone.

But the growth of solar in the United States isn’t limited to commercial businesses — it’s spread across all sectors.  Today, there are nearly 40 utility-scale, clean energy solar projects under construction in the U.S.— utilizing both PV and CSP technologies – putting thousands of electricians, steelworkers and laborers to work, while helping reduce carbon emissions from power plants. 

These new projects feature state-of-the-art, cutting-edge technologies.  BrightSource Energy is building the first commercial-scale solar “power tower” in the U.S. that will come online later this year.  First Solar and GE are working on advanced inverter technology to provide better integration to the transmission grid.  And Abengoa Solar’s Solana power plant — which began commercial operation just two weeks ago — features six hours of thermal energy storage, enabling it to deliver electricity long after the sun has gone down.

In addition, innovative solar heating and cooling systems are offering American consumers cost-efficient, effective options for meeting their energy needs, while lowering their utility bills.  In fact, another new report prepared for SEIA outlines an aggressive plan to install 100 million SHC panels in the United States by 2050.  This action alone would create 50,250 new American jobs and save more than $61 billion in future energy costs.

Today, approximately 44 percent of American energy consumption is attributable to heating and cooling.  According to projections by BEAM Engineering — a Boston-based energy consulting firm — ramping up the installation of SHC systems would allow the U.S. to generate nearly 8 percent of its total heating and cooling needs through clean, affordable solar energy.

Meanwhile, a new market analysis by SEIA and GTM Research shows the U.S. installed 832 MW of new PV capacity in the second quarter of this year — a healthy 15 percent increase over the first three months of 2013.  Even more impressively, the U.S. residential solar market has grown by almost 50 percent over Q2 2012.

What’s spurring this growth?  For one thing, solar energy is now more affordable than ever.  Average PV system prices have declined by more than 40 percent since the beginning of 2011, while average module prices have declined by more than 60 percent over the same time period. 

These are just a few of the reasons why America Supports Solar overwhelmingly.  According to a poll by Hart Research Associates, 9 out of 10 Americans want to see an expanded use of solar nationwide. 

Today, leading brand name companies in the United States are listening to what Americans want and taking decisive action.  If only Congress worked as well!

Well, Nigeria as a country, has been tagged one of the most populous developing nations in the world with the lowest energy efficiency which has been the cause of our major woes in meeting the country’s targeted developmental goals over the years
Nevertheless, Nigerian government has refused to channel its resources for the betterment of her huge human resources so as to improve the lot of the nation as a whole. US on the other hand, has been playing its role in setting the pace for nations like Nigeria to follow although Nigeria cannot boast of political stability and democratic maturity of the US, but at least, we can take a cue, for effective sectoral development in our nation.

About Dotun Roy

DotunRoy.com is a development driven news website with the overall goal of amplifying, promoting and advocating for positive societal change through Sustainable Development advocacy in line with UN SDGs components such as education, environmental sustainability and Climate Change, Human Rights, health, finance, housing, good governance as well as security in Nigeria and across the world.

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