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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Sustainable pathways to accelerate renewable energy development: The case of Nigeria’s power system

Electricity production and consumption are enablers of economic growth and sustainable development but also key contributors to climate change. Nigeria has an electrification rate of 60% and faces challenges reconciling the gap between energy demand and supply. As Africa’s most populated country with high carbon emissions projection and one of the ten most threatened countries by climate change, there is a need to align energy development and climate mitigation targets. Thus, necessitating the shift to sustainable and clean energy technologies.

The barriers affecting the adoption of renewable technologies for electricity generation are replete throughout existing literature. However, interdependencies among these factors are yet to be examined. This research takes a systems approach to identify the connections among existing drivers and challenges and uncover key focus areas of intervention to accelerate renewable energy (RE) development in Nigeria.

The current uptake of renewable energy along with influencing drivers and challenges are investigated through a literature review and semi-structured interviews conducted with expert stakeholders. Building on these insights, a causal loop diagram was produced showing interconnections between the challenges and opportunities for RE development. From the analyses of critical feedback loops, policy setting and enforcement, RE investments, data collection and availability, capacity building and public awareness of the benefits of RE technologies were identified as leverage points. Twelve strategic interventions were further developed detailing implementing stakeholders across governmental and non-governmental organisations. Finally, a conceptual Theory of Change framework was used to synchronise the sequential pathway of expected outcomes towards a low-carbon electricity mix.

Recommendations include the establishment of quality standards and regulations for RE products, legal backing of existing policies and monitoring for effective implementation. In addition, the deployment of RE financing mechanisms is proposed to mobilise private capital investment and create a competitive power market for RE integration. The potential for RE development to contribute to economic growth should also be harnessed through skills development in RE technologies to build the local RE supply chain.

In summary, this dissertation identifies potential actions that can be holistically applied by policymakers to accelerate RE development and resolve the shortcomings in Nigeria’s power sector.


Course Overview


The need to engage in better problem definition through careful dialogue with all stakeholder groups and a proper recognition of context.


An ability to work with specialists from other disciplines and professional groups acknowledging that technical innovation and business skills also must be understood, nurtured and combined as precursors to the successful implementation of sustainable solutions.


An understanding of mechanisms for managing change in organisations so future engineers are equipped to play a leadership role.


An awareness of a range of assessment frameworks, sustainability metrics and methodologies such as Life Cycle Analysis, Systems Dynamics, Multi-Criteria Decision making and Impact Assessment.