By Miriam Humbe
To foster its collaborative efforts in standardizing the solar industry, Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and its development partner the World Bank Group/International Finance Corporation (IFC) convened a workshop to discuss the framework in adopting the IEC/Lighting Global Standards for Pico PV Products and Stand-Alone Solar kits in Nigeria.
At a workshop held in Lagos recently to provide an atmosphere for discussions as a means of engendering standards as the building blocks in a burgeoning industry that has a year on growth rate of 24.2 percent from the year 2017 till date and an expected financial growth rate of 22 billion dollars in the next 5 years.
Speaking at the event, SON’s Director General, Osita Aboloma Esq. expressed delight that ideas were being stringed together to ensure the Quality PICO PV Systems, capable of ensuring clean, safer, low cost, durable and efficient, off grid energy at 350w or less at 35v peak DC in rural and urban locations.
The DG, who was represented by the Head Electrical Laboratory SON, Engr. Achema Alewu, said: “we are all aware of the energy situations in Nigeria and the growing world order in the area of clean reliable and efficient energy, and only alternative sources of power can deliver environmentally sustainable energy without the release of toxic gases that deplete the ozone layer”.
Aboloma thereafter highlighted the need for an understanding of the standards and specifications for Photovoltaic (PV) systems and the obligation to sensitize stakeholders on the different stages of the development of the Nigerian Industrial Standards and the key role of the stakeholders in the final draft Standards for Solar Home Systems.
He disclosed that, stakeholders in the Renewable Energy (RE) and Energy Efficiency (EE) industry need to know that SON is equipped with all necessary Quality Assurance tools capable of giving confidence to providers, dealers and consumers of all PV systems through testing and certification and also open to improve on Conformity Assessment tools for RE systems.
As stated by the DG, “SON is therefore partnering with Lighting Global to achieve Lighting Africa an innovation of the World Bank Group through the International Finance Corporation (IFC), and in providing carefully designed interventions and collaborations with key stakeholders, the lighting Africa Program seeks to help six million Nigerians gain access to modern, clean and affordable lighting products by 2020, while reducing Green House Gas (GHG) emission by 120,000 metric tons”.
Information availed by IFC, reveals that the key market barrier identified in the sector is the inability of consumers to differentiate between good and poor quality products, it is therefore imperative to provide a quality reference point in the market that consumers and intermediaries alike can leverage on for their purchasing decisions and instill confidence in products.
Furthermore, Lighting Global has developed a comprehensive quality assurance component which provides quality specifications, standards and quality testing methods with a program now working closely with SON to facilitate the adoption and implementation of the lighting Global/ Quality standards in Nigeria.
Speaking at the parley, Allwell Nwankwo, Program Lead, Lighting Africa, Nigeria expressed his gratitude to SON for its collaboration since 2015 towards quality assurance in the solar industry by providing the needed expertise and support to IFC in an effort to avoid market spoilage.
As stated by Nwankwo, “the IFC world bank project is to help the country grow in the area of market penetration for solar consumables through market support and development activities and in promoting quality assurance in the lighting of Africa and the development of a set of standards to give confidence and value for money as the issue of quality assurance even more critical now as the market is growing and there’s need to check the influx of solar items”.
Nwankwo disclosed also that there is a forecast of massive growth looming for solar energy products, as finance is being provided for those that need them most but cannot finance them through Micro finance banks and looking ahead within a year’s forecast, two million more people can be reached with access and in six additional states in Nigeria.
Therefore, IFC will support SON as it puts in place framework to adopt the IEC Global standards for Solar energy in order to boost the industry in Nigeria with a plan to also support SON with developing of a Laboratory to test these products and consumables while looking up to SON for sensitization and enforcement in order to cascade the information to those that need it most but are either skeptical or ignorant of the availability.
He further stated that standards not only increases awareness but also boosts confidence by adding intrinsic value to products, thereby boosting consumer confidence through quality verification.