Over dependence on subsidised petrol slows down development in renewable energy

Over-dependence on subsidised oil and gas as primary energy sources has slowed down the development of renewable energy in Nigeria. Diversification to achieve a wider energy supply mix will ensure greater energy security for the nation. The domestic demand for petroleum products is growing rapidly. More importantly, the prices of fossil-related fuel stock such as natural gas, coal, uranium, and diesel have continually grown over time, while these sources will eventually run out.

A national strategy that ties the future of energy supply to sources that may likely become too expensive or eventually run out is neither sustainable nor wise. This strategy will certainly not enhance energy security according to Federal Government on renewable energy.

In contrast, hydro, biomass, solar, and wind energy are infinitely available. These are home-grown energy sources that cost nothing. While the capture technologies are expensive, the feed stock cost is essentially zero and operating costs are restricted to maintenance costs once the investments are made.

In addition, improved energy efficiency yields the prospect that economic life cycle savings are greater than the costs of implementing measures.

The development of renewable fuels from locally available energy resources and an energy efficient use should therefore be vigorously pursued and that is the fundamental aim of this policy document. More evenly distributed and efficient power generation is an important consideration for the Nigerian energy sector, in terms of energy security and geo-political balance between the North, the Central belt, and the South of the country.

The reason is that solar, the primary and most abundant renewable resource, increases in intensity as one moves from south to north.

The rural populaces, whose needs are often basic, depend to a large extent on traditional sources of energy, mainly biomass, used on inefficient appliances. This class of fuels constitutes over 50 per cent of total energy consumption in the country.

Fuel-wood supply/demand imbalance in some parts of the country is now a real threat to the energy security of the rural communities. Efficiency in energy use bears the potential to meet demands better while reducing the consumption of scarce resources.

Electricity supply in rural areas is largely non-existent, denying access to such things as lighting and refrigeration for almost half of the nation. Hence, special attention needs to be paid to the diversification of the energy supply mix in the rural areas. Building into this diversification strategy on effective energy platform will allow rural residents to imbibe a conservation culture as they become more energy dependent.

To meet the Nigerian vision targeting 40,000MW, generation capacity would require to be grown by 4.3GW every year. It is obvious that every energy source will need to be considered, if this target is to be met. Correspondingly, large investments will also have to be made. It is expected that these sums cannot and will not be funded directly by the Federal Government. Rather, incentives will have to be provided to the private sector and communities to partner with government in this endeavour.

The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Goodluck  Jonathan, in launching the Power Sector Roadmap, stated that the growth, prosperity and national security of any country are critically dependent upon the adequacy of its electricity supply industry.