The Nigerian government has released the Environmental and Social Management Plan (ESMP) in Abuja, in collaboration with the European Union and Germany. They intend to address the bottlenecks in the renewable energy sector and by enabling the country to meet its 2030 goal of adding 9,000 megawatts of renewable energy to the national grid.
The document, which was developed as part of the Nigeria Energy Support Programme (NESP) by key agencies with critical contributions from the Ministry of Environment, streamlines the process of conducting Environmental and Social Impact Assessments, lowers costs for local developers, and promotes production.
Speaking at the event, the minister of power, Abubakar Aliyu noted that the new guidelines would fast-track government’s aspiration in terms of renewable contribution to the nation’s energy mix.
Represented by one of his aides, Isah Peter, the minister said the development would boost energy access in the country.
Stating that the new guidelines would equally encourage sustainability of the mini-grid sector, Aliyu said the move would allay fears of investors.
Depending on the project’s perceived level of impact, the updated general Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Procedural Guidelines, 2017, developed according to the ElA Act, 1992, indicate that Category Two (I1) Projects, such as solar power projects, may not need full-scale ElA.
As a result, the Federal Ministry of Environment produced the ESMP Guidelines, which expressly apply to the solar mini-grid sector, with technical assistance from the NESP and in cooperation with key parties.
The new step, according to Sharon Ekeazor, Minister of Environment, who was represented by Hassan Musa, Permanent Secretary in the ministry, will boost the nation’s aspirations in renewable energy as the government moves toward energy transformation.
Inga Stefanowicz, the Director of the European Union Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS’ Economic Cooperation and Energy Section, stated that the European Union remained dedicated to sustainable energy in Nigeria.
She stated that the new standards were part of a package of steps to address fundamental obstacles, and that they would encourage additional investment in the area.
“Given the exemption of solar power projects from requiring a full ElA process and the peculiarity of solar mini-grids, it became imperative to develop a Guideline that will regulate not only the environmental issues pertaining to these projects, but also the health and social aspects,” said Abbas Suleiman, Director, FMEnv’s Environmental Assessment Department.
“The Guideline is a comprehensive document that offers developers and regulators with a step-by-step guidance to the actions that must be completed in order for an ESMP to be approved, as well as during the lifetime of a solar mini-grid and project decommissioning.”
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