When people think of Houston’s energy sector, its oil and gas almost automatically come to mind, given that about one-third of the publicly traded oil and gas companies in the U.S, Yet wind energy is making inroads in Houston, Texas, a scenario that holds much lesson for Nigeria.
With over 4,600 energy-related businesses employing more than 237,000 people, Houston has earned recognition as the “Energy Capital of the World” with wind energy gaining more momentum a template for Nigeria energy space whose government have over the years being making frantic efforts to resolve its electricity challenges.
Wind energy (or wind power) is a form of renewable energy that uses airflow to generate electricity. Wind turbines are typically about 120 metres high to capture stronger winds and their blades span about 45 metres.
Susan Davenport, senior vice president for economic development at the Greater Houston Partnership, says more than 30 companies in the Houston area operate in the wind energy sector.
“Houston is actively working to grow this sector, so we hope people will seriously think of Houston when they think of renewables in this new era of energy,” Susan Davenport said at an April 9 news conference in Houston where the American Wind Energy Association released its 2018 state-of-the-industry report.
Davenport noted that as global energy forecasts continue to show an ever-increasing need for energy, “we know oil and gas will be critical for years to come. But at the same time, as that energy mix gets larger, we know an increasing share of energy will come from renewables and we’re already capturing a sizable share of that market.”
According to a non-governmental organisation Greater Houston Partnership, out of the $5.2 billion in venture capital reeled in by Houston businesses from 2015 to 2017, renewable energy accounted for more than 35 percent.
Davenport said Houston is “uniquely suited” to support companies involved in wind energy and other types of renewable energy, thanks to its deep pool of energy-oriented talent.
The American Wind Energy Association’s annual report for 2018 shows the wind energy sector employs between 25,000 and 26,000 people in Houston and elsewhere in Texas, up from 24,000 to 25,000 in 2017, with the total investment in Texas wind energy projects sitting at a whopping $46.5 billion. More than one-fifth of wind energy jobs in the U.S. are located in Texas.
Also, information from American Wind Energy Association revealved 38 non-utility companies have bought or are planning to buy 4,900 megawatts of wind energy in Texas, including Shell Energy, AT&T, Budweiser, ExxonMobil, and Walmart.
“Texas continues to lead the nation, with hard work and ingenuity, in harnessing this great American renewable energy resource, literally out of thin air,” says Tom Kiernan, CEO of the Washington, D.C.-based American Wind Energy Association.
“Texas has a long and storied history of energy production and as [our] report demonstrates, wind is an important part of the state’s energy success story. In many ways, the Texas wind story is the story of American wind power.”
while Texas and Houston seems to be growing and expanding its renewable energy space, Nigeria still depends on non-renewable energy despite its vast potential in renewable sources such as solar, wind, biomass and hydro. The total potential of these renewables is estimated at over 68,000MW, which is more than five times the current power output.
Electricity generation for Nigeria’s grid is largely dominated by two sources – non-renewable thermal (natural gas and coal) and renewable water or hydro. Coal and natural gas make up the largest portion of energy production in Nigeria, while energy generated from hydro is well below potential. As a result of wide gap between demand and output, only 45percent of Nigeria’s population have access to electricity.
This power deficit has also weighed negatively on business operations in the country making users seek alternative energy means, primarily through buying gas or diesel-powered generators which are relatively expensive as most businesses that use them incur high production costs.