What Are The Energy Potentials In Nigeria?

Nigeria is the largest economy and most populous country in Africa. With over 200 million people, Nigeria has tremendous energy needs to support economic growth and provide electricity access across the country. Only about 55% of the population has access to electricity, so expanding energy infrastructure is a major priority.

Nigeria is fortunate to have an abundance of both renewable and non-renewable energy resources. Developing these diverse energy sources can help drive economic development, create jobs, reduce poverty, and improve living standards. This makes utilization of Nigeria’s full energy potential of vital importance.

This article will provide an overview of the range of energy sources available in Nigeria, including oil, natural gas, coal, hydropower, solar, wind and geothermal. It will analyze the potential of these resources and how they can be harnessed to meet Nigeria’s growing energy needs in a sustainable manner.

Oil Reserves

Nigeria has the largest proven oil reserves in Africa, with over 37 billion barrels. The main oil-producing region is the Niger Delta in the southern part of the country, where oil was first discovered in 1956. Some of the major oil fields in the Niger Delta region include Bonny Light, Forcados, Qua Iboe, Brass River, Bonga and Erha.

At its peak, Nigeria’s oil production capacity reached around 2.5 million barrels per day. However, production has declined in recent years due to disruptions from militant groups, pipeline vandalism and oil theft. The oil industry has also suffered from a lack of investment and maintenance of infrastructure.

The Nigerian government is working to revive oil production through an amnesty program for militants, efforts to curb oil theft and investments in new fields and infrastructure. But Nigeria faces competition from shale oil in the US and other African countries such as Angola and Ghana that are ramping up production.

Natural Gas

Nigeria has the largest natural gas reserves in Africa, with over 180 trillion cubic feet of proven reserves as of 2020. The country’s natural gas deposits are located mainly in the Niger Delta region and offshore in the Bight of Benin, Bight of Bonny and Gulf of Guinea. Nigeria produces approximately 3 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day, making it the largest gas producer on the continent.

Natural gas plays a vital role in the Nigerian economy. Over 70% of the natural gas produced in Nigeria is used domestically for power generation, heating, cooking and transportation. The gas is processed into liquefied natural gas (LNG) and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) for export as well. Nigeria’s OPEC quota allows the country to export over 70% of its oil output, but it places no limit on gas exports. This provides Nigeria with the opportunity to continue growing its LNG and LPG exports.

The natural gas reserves present an opportunity for Nigeria to expand domestic gas-to-power projects, tap into gas-based industries and petrochemicals, and position itself as a major natural gas exporter. With the right policies and infrastructure investments, Nigeria’s natural gas sector can drive economic growth and development for decades to come.


Nigeria has over 2 billion tons of coal reserves, mostly located in Enugu, Anambra, and Kogi states. Coal mining in Nigeria started in 1915 and boomed in the 1950s to 1960s. However, coal production has declined since the 1960s as the country shifted to relying on crude oil as the main source of energy.

Most of the coal mining in Nigeria is done by open cast methods, which leads to land degradation and air pollution. Coal burning also emits greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, contributing to climate change. However, coal mining provides jobs and opportunities in the communities where the mines are located.

Compared to other energy sources, coal is inexpensive but has more environmental impacts. Natural gas produces fewer emissions than coal, while renewable sources like solar, wind and hydro have minimal impacts. But the high upfront costs of building renewable infrastructure can be challenging for developing countries like Nigeria.

Hydroelectric Power

hydroelectric dam
Nigeria has significant potential for hydroelectric power generation due to its abundant rivers and water resources. The country currently has two major hydroelectric dams – Kainji Dam on the Niger River and Shiroro Dam on the Kaduna River. These two dams have a combined installed capacity of 1,938 MW, providing about 29% of Nigeria’s grid electricity.

There are plans to expand existing hydro facilities and build new ones to boost Nigeria’s hydroelectric capacity. The construction of Zungeru Hydroelectric project on the Niger River is currently ongoing, which will add 700 MW of capacity when completed. Other major upcoming hydro projects include the 3050 MW Mambilla Hydro Power project on the Donga River and 2,600 MW Gurara II project on the Kaduna River.

Smaller hydro projects are also being developed across many states in Nigeria. The small hydro potential is estimated at over 3,500 MW, with opportunities to build plants along the numerous rivers and streams across the country. If fully harnessed, hydroelectric power could provide over 14,000 MW for Nigeria, meeting a significant portion of the country’s electricity needs through clean renewable energy.

Solar Energy Potential in Nigeria

Nigeria has abundant solar energy potential, with average solar radiation of about 5.5 kWh/m2/day and sunshine hours ranging from 6 to 7 hours per day. Solar energy is particularly well-suited for rural electrification in Nigeria, as many rural areas lack access to the national grid.

Some current and planned solar projects in Nigeria include:

  • The 13MW Nova Solar 5 Farm in Jigawa State, commissioned in 2017
  • The 1.1MW solar hybrid power plant at Bayero University Kano
  • The 1.2MW solar microgrid by Niger Delta Power Holding Company in Abuja
  • The planned 20MW Karshi solar farm in the Federal Capital Territory

However, there are also some challenges for solar power growth in Nigeria:

  • High upfront capital costs
  • Lack of financing mechanisms and incentives
  • Low electricity tariffs reducing return on investment
  • Grid integration challenges

The opportunities ahead for solar power in Nigeria include:

  • Falling prices of solar PV modules
  • Potential for distributed solar generation closer to load centers
  • Job creation potential
  • Enabling policies like net metering and feed-in tariffs
  • New business models like solar leasing/renting

Wind Energy

Nigeria has significant potential for wind energy, especially in the northern regions of the country. Several areas have been identified as having good wind speeds and consistent wind resources suitable for large-scale wind farms.

Some of the prime locations for wind energy projects in Nigeria include Sokoto, Katsina, Bauchi, Gombe, Kano,Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, Plateau, and Taraba states. These northern states have average wind speeds of over 5 meters per second at heights of 30-80 meters, which is sufficient for commercial wind power generation.

Currently, several wind farms are in operation or under development in Nigeria. Some of the major wind energy projects include:

  • The 10 MW Katsina wind farm developed by the Nigerian company Blue Camel and currently operational.
  • A 30 MW wind farm in Katsina state being developed by AE-Riant Power Consortium.
  • A 300 MW wind project planned for Kano state.
  • A 50 MW wind farm under development in Gombe state.

The Nigerian government aims to generate up to 2 gigawatts of electricity from wind power sources. With increased investments and development in wind technology, Nigeria could harness its excellent wind energy potential to provide clean, renewable electricity to meet its growing energy needs.

Geothermal Energy

Geothermal energy refers to heat energy generated and stored within the earth. Nigeria has significant potential for geothermal energy due to the high subsurface temperatures in various parts of the country. However, geothermal energy is still largely untapped in Nigeria.

Some locations with geothermal potential include the Niger Delta, the Chad Basin, and the Benue Trough. The Niger Delta region is estimated to have subsurface temperatures of up to 150°C making it suitable for geothermal power generation. The Chad Basin around the border regions of Nigeria, Niger, and Chad also indicates temperatures high enough for geothermal applications.

Geothermal energy offers a clean, renewable baseload power option for Nigeria. With substantial investment and technical expertise, geothermal power plants can be set up in high temperature locations in Nigeria. This could provide consistent electricity generation without intermittency issues compared to sources like solar and wind. Geothermal plants also have a small land footprint compared to hydroelectric dams.

However, high upfront costs for exploratory drilling and installing geothermal plants has limited development so far. Lack of sufficient technical expertise within Nigeria is another constraint. Addressing these challenges could unlock the viability of geothermal energy in Nigeria’s energy mix in the future.


Nigeria has significant potential for biofuel production from crops like sugarcane, corn, and cassava. The tropical climate provides ideal conditions for growing these crops, which can be processed into bioethanol and biodiesel. However, large-scale production faces some challenges.

One major issue is that these crops are also important for food production. Diverting farmland to grow biofuel feedstocks could impact food security and prices in a country where malnutrition is still a problem. There are concerns that farmers may switch from growing food crops to more profitable biofuel crops.

Water usage is another consideration. Biofuel feedstock production requires substantial irrigation which could strain water resources. The processing plants also use large volumes of water. This raises environmental sustainability questions in a country prone to droughts and water shortages.

On the positive side, biofuels could provide new revenue sources for farmers and reduce reliance on imported fossil fuels. But policies and incentives would need to ensure biofuel expansion does not compromise food production and water availability. More research is needed on high-yield feedstock varieties requiring less land and water. Overall, Nigeria has promising biofuel potential but realizing it sustainably will require in-depth analysis and planning.


Nigeria is blessed with abundant energy resources, including oil, natural gas, coal, hydroelectric power potential, solar energy, wind energy, geothermal energy, and biofuels. Developing these energy sources sustainably will be crucial for Nigeria’s continued economic development and improvement in quality of life.

While Nigeria’s large oil and gas reserves have powered growth for decades, relying too heavily on these finite resources poses risks. Expanding investment in renewable sources like solar, wind, geothermal and biofuels will allow Nigeria to diversify its energy mix. Renewables can provide clean, sustainable energy to power homes and businesses across the country.

Access to reliable electricity remains a challenge for many Nigerians. Developing the nation’s full range of energy resources can help provide affordable, stable power for all. This will drive progress in healthcare, education, infrastructure, technology access and more. Energy is key for improving lives, reducing poverty and fueling Nigeria’s rise as an economic leader in Africa and globally.

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