By Innocent Onoh
Renewable energy has been the solution to power problems in many parts of the World, including African countries like kenya, Morocco, Ethiopia and South Africa.
Renewable energy sources such as wind, sunlight, coal and water, to mention but a few, are free gifts from God which can be used to generate power.
Experts maintain that these alternative and renewable energy sources which are abundant in Nigeria can enable the country achieve sustainable power generation.
Report by the Nigerian Meteorological Agency, NIMET, has it that Nigeria is hugely endowed with renewable energy sources.
For solar energy, the nation is said to experience annual daily sunshine of 6.25 hours at the coastal areas, and much more in the north.
This amounts to about 499.212 kilowatt hours of energy from the sun alone, which is equivalent to around 1.082 million tons of oil.
Analysts believe that this is up to 400 times the average daily crude oil production and also put at about 13000 times of natural gas production based on energy unit.
Despite this huge endowment of natural sources for renewable energy generation, the country has continued to experience constant power outage.
As part of solutions to the power problem, some citizens have resorted to alternative means of generating electricity by installing power generation technologies like battery inverters, solar panels, amongst other renewables.
Some Lagosians who have been using alternative sources of energy say the benefits are enormous.
“The benefits far outweighs that of NEPA. I use it both in my home and office. I am at peace whenever they take light because the thing will just switch on automatically without any stress”.
“It is a very good thing as it is beneficial to people using it at home, even those using it for business and others”.
An energy consultant, Mr. Jack Ekeno noted that over the years, the renewable energy sector had been affected by high cost of importation, which made the technologies expensive to acquire, thereby resulting in low patronage.
“The components that make up the renewable energy particularly the solar energy, are quite expensive, the reason is that they are not locally made”.
Commenting on the complexity of renewable energy, Dr. Omowunmi Hassan who trains people on solar panel manufacturing, said in the last five years, many Nigerians, including women, retirees and secondary school students have been trained on the business.
Dr Hassan, the Chief Executive Officer of an ICT based NGO, “Hi-Tech Centre for Nigeria Women and Youths”, therefore called on government, financial institutions and other corporate organisations to take advantage of renewable energy to revolve the power problem in the country.
“What we do in our organisation is to encourage domestic production of that technology. So, in the last five (5) years, we have been training Nigerians, children, adults, on how to produce the solar panel by ourselves”.
“Many people think that because it is coming from abroad, we don’t know how to work on it, but we have been teaching people, so we can do it by ourselves from the scratch”.
“I will use this opportunity to call on as many Nigerians who want to support this to on board, because we need to build our local capacity” “.
It is common knowledge that electricity supply in the country has been quite low, even as the sector is faced with challenges, ranging from persistent increase in tarrif by the Discos to activities of vandals who damage gas pipelines and disrupt supplies to thermal stations.
Both Mr. Ekeno and Dr. Hassan believe that renewable energy is the way out of the power problem in the country, giving its many advantages over the use of fossil fuel which is unfriendly to the environment.
” It is a kind of technology that does not cause wear and tear of the ozone layer, instead it makes life comfortable for both the environment and the planet itself.
“Nigeria has advantage as a tropical nation. We have high insulation, intense sun light year in year out and we are not making the most use of them by harnessing them. It seems like the blessing which God has given us is being wasted. The way out is for government and people to become stakeholders and we meet at a common point and make it more pocket friendly. We need to work out certain policies that can be of good to the people”, said Ekano.
“We have a lot of sunlight or sunshine in this part of tropical region”.
So the renewable technology has always been known to be an alternative that can support a kind of country as ours.
This is very essential for Nigeria to realize that renewable technology is one of the ways that we can actually support the national grid.
“With the kind of supply that we have now, it is obvious that we can’t go too far, businesses cannot thrive as many organisations wouldn’t work”.
But if we imbibe the solar technology as a renewable alternative,then we can actually make a lot of different at business level, at domestic use and the rest of that.
And we know that the solar renewable technology is very eco-friendly ,it doesn’t cause any harm to anybody and it has a longevity of minimum of 25 years, if you have it installed in your building or facility.
These days, people use it for their car park. If you are constructing a new house, the roof of your house can be the solar.
Dr. Hassan explained that there is need to begin to imbibe it, though we know that, because of the dollar rate, it could be a little bit expensive.
“But on the long run, it is something that can work and work well”.
On his part,the Chairman Energy Institute Nigeria, Mr. Osten Olorunsola has maintained that all sources of energy should be utilised to boost the nation’s energy sector.
Mr. Olorunsola explained that beyond increasing power supply, holistic adoption of clean and renewable energy options would enable the country keep faith with its many international agreements on tackling global warming, climate change and other environmental disasters.
“We need to explore all energy types-solar, oil and others. We need renewables. The fact is that you cannot use one to reach everybody. There is no reason why the whole of millions of should not be bubbling with solar energy,for example”.
A renown economist, Prof. Chris Onalo hoped that with improved power supply through full development of renewable energy sources, the nation would experience an unprecedented economic growth , which in turn would tackle the problem of rural-urban drift.
“You can imagine if this country can generate up to 20, 30 ,40 thousand Megawatts of power. It means that there will be activities that create economic independence and empowerment”
It is a widely held view that renewable sources of energy are the best option because they are sustainable and friendly to nature.
No wonder, the federal government recently announced that it was working out modalities, including renewable energy, to tackle the challenges in the power sector.
Nigerians are therefore hopeful that the government will consider the use of renewable energy to boost the nation’s electricity generation as this will demonstrate the country’s genuine commitment in addressing climate change and its attendant socio-economic problems.
Most importantly, the measure will help to extend power to millions of Nigerians that are not covered by the national grid.