Wither Nigeria! As nations march towards renewable energy, By Chima Nwafo

Posted by News Express | 5 August 2019 | 1,612 times

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•Chima Nwafo

In every aspect of life, older Nigerians can always recall the good old days. Sometimes, the younger folks get sceptical, given that they saw traces of those good old days. Besides, it’s somehow hypocritical that a nation fought and won the battle for independence from colonial rule, yet, six decades after, rather than things getting better for the populacethey are getting worse. From an unlikely quarter came a bitter lamentation in last Friday’s Daily Sun. Chief, Duro Onabule, in his Inside Back Cover column angrily berated the dirtiness of our environment – from the old and new capital cities of Lagos and Abuja to all the major towns from the East to the West, down to the North – vis-à-vis what obtained during the colonial days.

In the same vein, an Electricity Corporation of Nigeria (ECN), provided effective and reliable electricity supply to all the major towns of the country. There was also a Niger Dams Authority (NDA) that provided similar services in parts of the North. Perhaps, trouble began in 1972, after “amalgamation” of ECN and NDA to birth the notorious National Electric Power Authority (NEPA). Its performance could better be evaluated by the public’s cynical interpretation of the acronym – NEPA – as Never Expect Power Always. And then, there was an explosion of industrialisation in the 1970s, following the success of the government’s import substitution policy, which led to the growth of manufacturing nationwide, until IBB and Abacha’s policies caused their gradual atrophy.

The foregoing is relevant to our discourse this week because renewable energy is an alternative source of power generation, away from the troublesome and problematic fossil energy, better represented by Nigeria’s near-solo forex earner, crude oil/gas and yet-be exploited coal reserves. On the other hand, renewable energy, which unlike its fossil counterpart is not expendable, consists of biofuel, biogas, biomass, geothermal, solar, hydropower, tidal power, wave power and wind power. 

Like many other areas of domestic and industrial activity, it was also from the developed economies that make millions from thexploitation of fossil energy that equally decried its demerits. As a result, using 100 per cent renewable energy was first suggested in a paper in the science journal published sometime in 1975 by a Danish physicist, Bent Sørensen. According to Wikipedia, Energy Policy Analyst, Amory Lovinscoined the term “soft energy paths” to describe an alternative future where energy efficiency and appropriate renewable energy sources would replace “centralized energy systems based on fossil and nuclear fuels.”

Even though the epileptic performance of our power-supply agencies, gencos and discos, has been Nigerians’ major reason for seeking alternative sources of energy, that was not the case in the developed climes. There, the desire for 100 per cent renewable energy to generate electricity, for heating, cooling and transport was compelled by the threat of global warming, pollution/environmental challenges, and other economic concerns. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, “there are few fundamental technological limits to integrating a portfolio of renewable energy technologies to meet most of total global energy demand. Shifting the total global primary energy supply to renewable sources requires a transition of the energy system.” 

Figures from the Wikipedia show that at the national level, at least, 30 nations around the world already have renewable energy contributing more than 20 per cent of energy supply. National renewable energy markets are projected to continue to grow strongly in the coming decade and beyond, and some 120 countries have various policy targets for longer-term shares of renewable energy, including a binding 20 per cent by 2020 target for the European Union. The first country to propose 100 per cent renewable energy was Iceland, in 1998. Proposals have been made for Japan in 2003, and for Australia in 2011.Albania, Iceland, and Paraguay obtain essentially all of their electricity from renewable sources (Albania and Paraguay 100 per cent from hydroelectricity, Iceland 72 per cent hydro and 28 per cent geothermal). Norway obtains nearly all of its electricity from renewable sources (97 per cent from hydropower). Iceland proposed using hydrogen for transportation and its fishing fleet. Australia proposed biofuel for those elements of transportation not easily converted to electricity. Commitment by Denmark, and Vision 2050 for Europe set a 2050 timeline for converting to 100 per cent renewable energy, later reduced to 2040 in 2011. Zero Carbon Britain 2030, proposes eliminating carbon emissions in Britain by 2030 by transitioning to renewable energy.

Much as it’s encouraging that renewable energy use has spiked faster than advocates anticipated. Yet, it needs to “grow six times faster to limit global warming to 2 °C (3.6 °F).” But, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University and director of its Atmosphere and Energy programme, Mark Z Jacobson, averred that producing all new energy with wind power, solar and hydro power by 2030 is feasible, and that existing energy supply arrangements could be replaced by 2050. Barriers to implementing the renewable energy plan are seen to be “primarily social and politicalnot technological or economic,” he posited. 

In agreement with the Stanford Universitprofessor’s postulation was the 2013 Post Carbon Pathways report, which reviewed many international studies, the key roadblocksthe report noted, are: Climate change denial, fossil fuels lobby, political inaction, unsustainable energy consumption, outdated out-dated energy infrastructure and financial constraints. As of 2018, according to REN21, transformation was picking up speed in the power sector, but urgent action is required in heating, cooling and transport. “There are many places around the world with grids that are run almost exclusively on renewable energy. At the national level, at least 30 nations already have renewable energy contributing more than 20 per cent of the energy supply.”

Providing further evidence of encouraging strides, an evaluation of the 181 Peer Reviewed papers on 100 per cent renewable energy, which were published until 2018, showed that “the great majority of all publications highlighted the technical feasibility and economic viability of 100 per cent renewed energy systems.” While there are still many publications which focus on electricity only, there is a growing number of papers that cover different energy sectors and integrated energy systems. This cross-sectoral, holistic approach is seen as an important feature of 100 per cent renewable energy systems and is based on the assumption “that the best solutions can be found only if one focuses on the synergies between the sectors” of the energy system such as electricity, heat, transport or industry.

Notwithstanding the success rate of transition in the developed countries based on their quest for a cleaner and healthier environment, it is still interesting to read of the Renewable Energy Association of Nigeria’s determination to promote renewable energy in the country to about 40 per cent by 2030Mrs Lande Abudu, the executive secretary, who disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria, noted: “Our members are doing a lot in the development of renewable energy from primary health care solutions, and solar power solutions among others. We cannot do anything without access to power, so we are trying to form part of the solutions to ensure that everybody has access to power. REAN also acts as a link between the industry, government, consumer groups, international organisations and other renewable energy associations.”


Nwafo, Consulting Editor with News Express/Environmental Analyst, can be reached on: chi_dafo@yahoo.com ; +2348029334754.


Source: News Express

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