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Government's estimate on energy need, very faulty

By Afam Nnaji on April, 2 2008

Views: 3,280

Everyone agrees that we need constant electricity in Nigeria. Very few Nigerians care about how we use energy in Nigeria. The government seems not to be on top of the core issues let alone addressing them properly.

Can we see uninterrupted power supply in Nigeria anytime soon? Yes, only if the government does the right things including but not limited to a strong energy efficiency policy, effective monitoring of energy usage and generating the much needed power which from facts and common sense may not be more than 20% of whatever figures the government is currently relying upon to improve power supply.

Energy efficiency policy

There should be a complete halt to importation and manufacturing of energy inefficient products from electric bulbs to computers, fridges to TVs. A 60W bulb is equivalent 12 nos 5W energy saving bulbs so a home with 10 nos 60W bulbs is consuming in every hour energy that can be used for 12 homes using 10 nos 5W energy saving bulbs each for the same purpose - light.

Picture a neighborhood with one home (say on generator) with all the rooms lit (10 nos 60W bulbs) and 11 other homes around all in total darkness and compare that with a neighborhood with all 12 homes lit with 10 nos 5W energy saving bulbs using the same amount of energy a single home was using.

Effective monitoring of energy usage

There should be an effective energy monitoring team from PHCN or other relevant agencies that should identify and penalize homes or offices that waste energy by leaving security lights on even during the daytime when the security lights are not needed. It is not enough for the homes or offices to pay for the energy being wasted because they waste what others need.

If possible, all heavy duty appliances and machinery should be disconnected from the national grid for now until such a time when PHCN can provide for such heavy duty users. A situation whereby all homes and offices can enjoy steady power supply with basic appliances like TVs, lights, fans, fridges is certainly better than one where only a few people enjoy steady power supply just because a few companies or heavy energy users are making use of energy meant for the vast majority of Nigerians that are in dire need of regular power supply.

Why 20% of the current estimate will be enough to guarantee steady power supply

Without knowing the exact amount of energy that the government is planning to generate to improve power supply in Nigeria one thing is certain, the government is wrong in its estimate for the following reasons;

1. There is no policy on energy efficiency and as such any calculations made must have been based on the current inefficient products that abound everywhere. For example, compare 1 no 60W bulb to 12 nos 5W energy saving bulbs and you will realize just how wrong the government is in not taking energy efficiency serious.

2. As a fallout of the mistake above the government will be planning to generate energy with about 80% of the energy not really needed considering the fact that we can immediately save a lot of energy by switching to energy efficient products.

Many see bulbs as very light loads but until they do a little calculation they never realize how wrong they are.

A regular TV takes about 70W - 160W (including over 32" LCD TVs but excluding energy wasting Plasma TVs), fridges or freezers hover between 70W - 300W for the large ones, a typical 3 bedroom apartment has about 15 bulbs and at 60W per bulb the apartment will be using 900W of electricity every hour.

Put differently, in most cases the bulbs account for the bulk of your energy bills at home.

Using the bulb as a good example we will see what we stand to gain by replacing the typical incandescent bulb (60W or more) with their energy saving counterparts especially the 5W ones.

1 home with 15 nos 60W bulbs = 900W per hour
In 12 hrs (x12) = 10800W
In a month (x30) = 324000W
In one year (x12) = 3,888,000W

24 hours steady power supply for this home would mean that the government must generate 7,776,000W of electricity and the home will be required to pay N31,104.00.

If this home decides today to switch to energy saving bulbs rated at 5W each retaining the same 15 nos then the government would only need to generate 648,000W in a year for this home and the bill will effortlessly crash to N2,592.00 which is 83% lower than what this home would have paid in one year for the same number of bulbs only this time with energy saving bulbs to content with.

The government would realize that it is cheaper, easier and faster to generate about 20% of whatever energy it is planning to generate now to improve power supply.

A home with 15 nos 60W bulbs is actually making use of energy that 12 homes with 15 nos 5W energy saving bulbs each can use without problems.

So, if PHCN can comfortably power just 5 millions homes using the calculations above then it means that in reality PHCN has what it takes to guarantee steady power supply to 60 million homes in Nigeria. All that is needed is for someone somewhere to do what is right for Nigerians to enjoy steady power supply.

Steady power supply is possible, within reach and easy to provide only if we are bold and humble enough to understand the core issues and ways to respond to them accordingly.


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