Biomass from sugarcane as untapped source of sustainable energy

Experts say Nigeria’s biomass energy resources have been estimated to be 83 million tonnes of crop residues a year and 61 million tonnes of animal waste per year yet in most of the agro-industries clusters in the country, these wastes are either dumped or burnt.

Against this backdrop, UNIDO decided to assess the possibility of bagasse generation from sugar cane as part of the survey of agro wastes in Nigeria. The project discovered that the processing of sugar-cane and other agro produce in the country generates a considerable amount of wastes that can be converted to useful energy.

At a workshop organised to unveil the report of the study to validate the assessment of Biofuel and Bio-energy Potentials in the Sugar Industry in Nigeria, Eli Jidere Bala, director-general/CEO, Energy Commission of Nigeria (ECN) said it is ironic that about 40 percent Nigerians lack electricity access despite the country’s huge energy resources.

“For decades, efforts towards addressing this ugly situation had been on fossil fuels without much success. But, today, we are here because we strongly believe in the diversification of the nation’s energy supply mix to include all energy resources in their right proportion for sustainable development.

“This can be achieved by generating electricity within the load centres using energy resources available to them. It is therefore commendable that the UNIDO is investigating the potential of generating electricity from agro-wastes,” said Bala.

The ECN boss said through the detailed biomass resource assessments, potential sites would be identified for the replication of biomass-based mini-grids throughout the country.

Read also: ‘85m Nigerians do not have access to electricity’

The next line of action, therefore, is to demonstrate the viability of biomass-based mini-grids by establishing biomass mini-grid projects, promoting private sector investments in renewable energy technologies in the form of small biomass-based mini-grid as a viable option for augmenting the rural electrification programme in Nigeria and strengthen the policy, the regulatory and institutional framework for biomass and other renewable energy-based mini-grid systems in Nigeria said, Bala.

Mele Kyari, group managing director of the NNPC in remarks through a representative said with respect to energy requirements, the Sugarcane Industry is unique because it has a self-sufficient Process.

Sugarcane agriculture has multiple outputs – for instance, extraction of its Sucrose content is the basis for crystalline Sugar, Molasses and Rum and its varieties offers many uses.

“These include more complex sucrose derivatives such as Bioethanol used as Liquid fuels, Pharmaceutical-grade Chemicals, and biodegradable Plastics; others include more intensive use of Bagasse as a solid fuel for Electricity and Gas generation, and the capture of ‘waste’ from the milling process that is then turned into Fertilizer and Animal feed.

“Even the Cane straw – the tops and leaves that were previously burned away from the Cane stalk before harvesting – are being targeted for use with the Bagasse in Electricity production or for transformation into so-called “second generation” or “Cellulosic Ethanol,” said Kyari.

In the context of a rising demand for all forms of natural resources (Fuel-Ethanol, Food, Bioelectricity, Animal Feed, Fertilizer, Energy,) Kyari said the Sugarcane Industry is expanding for all it’s worth, towards optimisation of revenue streams.

“Bioelectricity is a clean and Renewable Energy made from the Sugarcane Biomass, which could be used as alternative to Fossil-Electricity and as a supplement to Hydropower; at the same time, Fuel-Ethanol from Cane juice fermentation is a suitable alternative to Gasoline.

“Nigeria has a great potential to develop this allinclusive Sugarcane-Energy Industry, since the conditions precedent are ripe, namely: suitable Agro-Climatic factors, high Photo-intensity in most parts of the Country, vibrant labour force and a very large market for Food and Energy,” he said.

To develop, the Sugarcane-Energy Industry in Nigeria, he called increasing efficiency in smart agricultural practices focusing on Land optimisation by increasing productivity per hectare; deploying emerging technologies that are Climate-compliant in processing Sugarcane into Fuel, Food, Feed, Energy and Fertilizer and and further harnessing Bagasse, Vinasse, and Sugarcane straw into commercial by-Products.

Renewable energy policy roadmap required for Nigerian states – experts

Experts say state government require practical renewable energy policy to guide implementation of projects. This was part of the recommendations made at the Clean Technology Hub (CTH) two-Day workshop in Delta State, supported the Heinrich Böll Stiftung Foundation.

The event was held at The Golden Tulip Hotel, Asaba, Delta State on the 19th and 20th of October, 2021, for private and public sector stakeholders respectively saw in attendance over 125 participants across both days.

The workshops’ primary aim was to obtain feedback and recommendations from both sectoral stakeholders for the proposed policy drafted by members of the Clean Technology Hub research team and experienced external consultants, on the need to integrate dedicated policies prioritising clean energy adoption in the state’s power sector.

This was a key part of the second phase of the Driving Renewable Energy Adoption at State Level project
which began in 2020, to drive the development of a renewable energy roadmap in Delta State.

The state was one of three targeted states under Phase 1 and demonstrated keen interest to shift its current economic and energy focus from oil to renewable energy. Thus
potentially making it a prime example of Nigeria’s energy transition.

The workshops began with an introduction to Clean Technology Hub and a brief background on the project. The policy roadmap developed so far was presented by Abel Gaiya and Daramfon Bassey from CTH. There was also a presentation by Mohammed Jibril, Technical Assistant to the MD/CEO of the Rural Electrification Agency (REA), on the
activities, programmes and projects of the agency and their footprint in Nigeria’s South-South zone.

During the discussions on the presented policy roadmap content, it was noted that private sector stakeholders emphasized the importance of ensuring funding,
financing and sustainability mechanisms for programmes under the policy.

They highlighted the role of creating greater awareness of the policymaking efforts, as well as awareness of renewable energy in general. They also noted the role of civil
society organizations in monitoring, advocacy and data collection.

Public officials emphasized the need for mentioning additional relevant government agencies to be involved with the implementation of the policy. There was also a
desire for an eventual implementation plan to complement the policy document, as well as for the engagement between the State Government and Federal Government
ministries and agencies to be more clearly defined.

Some of the recommendations made including having the Delta state government elaborate on the financing mechanisms (loans and credit facilities) and financial
Sustainability and elaborate on local content and the involvement of Delta State communities and
personnel in producing renewable energy components and in facility management.

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