• Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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Navigating Nigeria’s energy landscape via CCUS and Hydrogen for sustainability

Navigating Nigeria’s energy landscape via CCUS and Hydrogen for sustainability

The term “disruption,” widely discussed among global citizens, technology giants, international organisations, and media outlets over the past two decades, underscores the rapid technological advancements across various sectors such as banking, finance, information and communication technology, and agriculture. These advancements have significantly influenced our lifestyles and economies at sub-national, national, and global levels.

The onset of Industry 4.0, characterised by digitisation, is already evident. However, humanity’s rapid exploitation of Earth’s resources exceeds sustainable rates, contributing to climate change and global warming. In response, phrases like “climate change,” “renewable energy,” and “sustainable development,” including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) championed by the United Nations (UN), have become prevalent across international organisations and universities. This trend is reflected in initiatives like the Times Higher Education “Impact Ranking” and the focus on Environment, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG).

The Paris Agreement, formed during the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21), outlines a framework for nations to limit temperature rises to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Countries participating in the COP have committed to net-zero targets and outlined strategies for achieving them. This commitment has also pressured energy-deficient nations and those reliant on fossil fuels to develop net-zero plans, balancing energy security, equity, and environmental sustainability.

For countries like Nigeria, heavily reliant on natural resources for economic survival, diversification prospects appear bleak.

Therefore, the emphasis is on sustainable resource exploitation using existing technologies. Nigeria boasts abundant resources, including crude oil, natural gas (200 tcf), coal (639 million tonnes of proven reserves, 2.75 billion tonnes of unproven reserves, and 250 million tonnes of lignite proven reserves), and solar irradiation up to 2400 kWh/m2.

Blue Hydrogen (Blue-H2) and Carbon Capture, Utilisation, and Storage (CCUS) emerge as solutions for Nigeria’s continued socioeconomic development while maintaining environmental sustainability. Comparable nations with significant natural gas reserves or exports have adopted hydrogen policies or low-carbon roadmaps, with blue H2 featuring prominently. Nigeria, like Algeria, has the potential to implement successful CCUS projects, as demonstrated by the In Salah project, which injects a total of 3.8 million metric tonnes of CO2 into a depleted gas reserve with no known leakage from 2004 to 2021.

In Nigeria, awareness regarding carbon capture, utilisation, and storage (CCUS) has been raised by the 2022–2023 CCUS diagnostic and scoping project workshops conducted by the International Financial Corporation (IFC) in conjunction with the Federal Government. These workshops saw participation from key industries like cement and oil and gas, as well as regulatory agencies and MDAs.

Comparing hydrogen options, green H2 produced by electrolysis and renewable energy is more expensive than blue H2, with prices ranging from $4.5 to $12 per kg and $1.8 to 4.7 per kg, respectively. Nigeria also has potential access to brown-H2 from coal deposits and blue-H2 from renewable energy through solar systems, with irradiation levels comparable to those in the Sahara Desert.

Regarding storage of H2, surface facilities are globally limited, with an existing tank capacity of around 270 tons. Thus, subsurface geostorage of H2 is preferred, with an optimal storage depth of 2 km. The Niger Delta province possesses depleted and near-depleted reservoirs, with more than half oil and gas reservoirs at depths beyond 2 km. As for CO2 geostorage applications, the optimal depth is about 0.8 km.

The focus on depleted oil and gas reservoirs for CO2 and H2 storage in Nigeria stems from the rich database of characterization, risk reduction, and existing infrastructure. While saline aquifers are abundant, a lack of subsurface data makes hydrocarbon reservoirs a more certain choice.

CCUS and hydrogen are crucial for Nigeria’s net-zero targets and sustainable utilisation of natural resources, given the country’s abundant fossil fuel and renewable energy potential, existing pipeline networks, and skilled workforce.

Investment in CCUS and hydrogen infrastructure should involve not only the private sector but also local financial institutions, government funding initiatives like the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), international organisations such as the World Bank, IFC, and International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), and of course, the forthcoming African Energy Bank.

CCUS and H2 technologies hold immense potential to enhance energy sustainability in Nigeria by reducing GHG emissions and ensuring energy security, especially given the significant reliance on gas-powered turbines for power generation. However, the lack of appropriate policies, regulatory frameworks, and incentives hinders their rapid implementation. International collaboration is essential to access funding, knowledge, and technology transfer for carbon capture and hydrogen production. Sustainable energy in Nigeria currently relies on isolated solar-powered mini-grids. To ensure the success and sustainability of CCUS and H2 initiatives, private sector engagement is crucial, with incentives spanning the entire value chain. This approach can lead Nigeria towards a sustainable energy future, aligning with the 2060 net-zero target and the nation’s Energy Transition Plan and NDC.

Preye David Orodu holds a Ph.D. in Oil & Gas Engineering and a comprehensive background in the Oil & Gas industry and academia. His expertise spans various domains, including field operations in facilities engineering, project engineering, reservoir engineering, and subsurface data analytics. David earned his MSc from Robert Gordon University and his PhD from China University of Geosciences, both specialising in Oil & Gas Engineering.