By Ikenna Nwokedi
The Rural Electrification Agency (REA) on Saturday, 24th December 2022 handed over the completed two megawatts hybrid solar integrated power plant to Nnamdi Azikiwe University management at Awka.
The completed hybrid solar power plant domiciled in the Awka Campus of the institution is expected to generate power of two megawatts of electricity that will service the entire University Community when all the buildings comprising of office blocks, classrooms, theatres, studios, laboratories and hostels are connected to the grid.
In his remarks during the handover, UNIZIK Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Charles Esimone, expressed his delight that the University is about to benefit from the power plan occasioned by the existence of the solar integrated power plant.
Prof. Esimone who was represented by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Administration), Prof. Joseph Ikechebelu appreciated the Federal Government for initially enlisting the institution as one of the beneficiaries of the project when it commenced in 2017.
He also thanked the contractor for being steadfast and showcasing doggedness in the discharge of their duties towards ensuring that the project is completed and handed over to the institution despite challenges it faced.
Prof Esimone described the development as a good Christmas gift to UNIZIK as it will provide uninterrupted power supply.
He said that there are other anticipated power plant projects expected to come to the University and the present administration is determined in ensuring that there is constant power supply in the University.
Also speaking the Chairman, UNIZIK Energy Management Committee, Prof. Francis Enemuo said the completed solar integrated power plant project is a blessing to the institution and will be of huge immense benefit to the University community.
Engr Enemuo disclosed that since 15th December 2022, the test running of the solar power plant kick-started and has sustained power supply to the administrative blocks and other buildings such as the Faculty of Agriculture and ASUU NAU Secretariat building which are located along the grid of supply to the University’s Ivory Tower.
According to him, since 2021, when the Vice-Chancellor constituted the Energy Management Committee which cuts across technical points of the University, the committee went into action interfacing with the Rural Electrification Agency.
Engr Enemuo also revealed that currently, the capacity of the plant is under utilized with 290 kilowatts of electricity being generated. He also revealed that other Faculties and units will soon be connected to the grid in phases at the discretion of the Vice-Chancellor with the College of Post Graduate Studies (CPGS) and the University Library as the next buildings earmarked to be connected to the grid.
Speaking earlier, a representative from the REA, Engr. Kalu Okwara Orji stated that the Federal Government decided that it will power all Federal Universities with non-stop power on a 24/7 basis through a scheme termed ‘Energizing Education Programme’ focusing on Universities to help students, teaching and non-teaching staff.
Engr Orji disclosed that the programme was divided into phases with phase one covering nine universities with associated teaching hospitals.
He revealed that out of the nine institutions, six has been commissioned while UNIZIK is the seventh to be completed and today being handed over to the University management with two remaining institutions being the University of Lagos and Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife which has gas plant components that poses as a challenge to the programme.
The REA representative said that the fundamental structure is the solar hybrid power plant which generates power while the existing power generating sets on site are for blast-starting to aid in pushing up power during the initial time as they act a buffer in case of increase in load and then goes off when the power from the solar power plant is stabilized, generated and distributed.
He explained that during the day the battery bank stores power that will aid generation of electricity at night with the idea to reduce carbon emissions to show that it is environmentally friendly. He also said that street lights system in the institution are also incorporated into the power distribution while also disclosing that the solar power plant will act as a training centre for both students and teaching staff.
He emphasized that everything that it built technologically usually has its challenges that would require Engineering solution and there is need for a field team that will be liaising with those at the control room of the power plant.
He also informed that the power plant has a self protecting mechanism that is active with a circuit breaker in case of any fault or emergency. He thanked God for the resilience of the MD/CEO of REA, Engr Ahmad Salihijo Ahmad under which the project is being commissioned.
The 2 megawatts hybrid solar power plant contains 7680 quantities of 330W polycrystalline solar panels, two 1250KVA transformers, two 1100KVA transformers, two 800KVA transformers, two 160KVA transformers, two 700KVA diesel generators, two 400KVA generators, 1440 2V OPZV batteries and four 40 feet battery containers.
Presentation and handing over of relevant documents of the solar power plant to the University management and tour of the power plant formed the high points of the occasion.
Also present during the handover ceremony is the University Librarian, Dr. Stella Ngozi Anasi; members of the Governing Council, Prof. Nkechinyere Nwokoye and Prof. Ezinma Nnabuife; representative from Metka West Africa, Engr. Isaac Oluwatomisin; Director of Works’ Services, Engr. Iyke Onwuemena; Acting Head, Directorate of Information and Public Relations, Mrs Chika Gladys Ene; Union Leaders of ASUU, NAAT and members of the UNIZIK Energy Management Committee.