Shell-Backed Solar Plant Challenges China’s Market Share

Auxano Solar launches a 100-MW solar manufacturing plant in Lagos with funding from All On

by Motoni Olodun
Shell founded solar factory

Nigeria, a country with abundant oil and gas resources, is facing a chronic power crisis that affects millions of its citizens. The national grid is unreliable and insufficient, forcing many businesses and households to depend on costly and polluting diesel generators. But a new solar plant in Lagos, funded by an impact investor backed by Shell, aims to change that.

The plant, owned by Auxano Solar, an off-grid energy company, is the first of its kind in Nigeria. It is a fully automated facility that can produce over 2,000 solar panels daily, with a total capacity of 100 megawatts (MW). The plant covers about 5,730 square meters of land in Ibeju, Lekki, near the Lekki Deep Seaport.

The plant is part of Auxano’s vision to provide affordable and reliable solar energy solutions to Nigerians, especially those in rural areas who lack access to the grid. The company also hopes to reduce the dependence on imported solar panels from China, which dominates the global market. According to Ember, a global energy think tank, China exported 114 gigawatts (GW) of solar panels in the first half of 2023, a 34% increase from the same period last year. This is equivalent to the total installed solar capacity of the United States.

Auxano’s co-founder and CEO, Chuks Umezulora, said the company focuses on penetrating the Nigerian market before expanding to neighboring countries. He said that the company targets both formal and informal sectors, including solar firms that are into mini-grids, commercial and industrial solar providers, and importers of solar panels for resale. He added that the main challenge for the project was accessing finance to deliver it on time.

The investment from All On, an impact investor seeded by Shell, is one of its biggest since it was established in 2017 by Shell to help address the energy poverty in Nigeria by supporting off-grid clean energy solutions. Osagie Okubor, country chair of Shell Companies in Nigeria, said that Auxano is a visual representation of what Shell hoped to achieve with All On. He said that Shell is proud to support All On and witness the commissioning of the factory.

Solar energy is considered one of the main ways for Nigeria to achieve its electrification targets and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. The country has an estimated potential of over 427 GW of solar power, which is more than 1.5 times its fossil fuel resources in terms of energy. 

Launching Auxano’s factory is a milestone for developing the solar industry in Nigeria and Africa. It shows that local manufacturing is possible and profitable and that it can create jobs and boost the economy. It also demonstrates that solar energy is not only a clean and sustainable alternative but also a competitive and attractive one for consumers and investors alike.

Source: BusinessDay

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