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Energy Efficiency - Can't solve our energy crisis without it

By Afam Nnaji on June, 9 2008

Views: 2,967

Sometimes I am tempted to believe that the powers that be do not want to solve the problem of power supply in Nigeria otherwise how can one explain why the relevant authorities are shying away from strategies to reduce our current and future energy needs which by all means will be cheaper, simpler and faster to provide?

Every time I hear the government talking about generating X amount of energy for Nigerians without any comments on energy efficiency and energy conservation I feel like giving up on this country that I believe have a lot of potentials and enough resources to solve its problems.

Energy is a moving target, trying to peg the amount of energy needed is like trying to catch wind using a basket. The only meaningful way to control and reduce our energy needs is to embrace energy efficiency and energy conservation.

Why would the head of a house be looking for ways to provide 10 plates of rice each for all the members of the family when 1 plate of rice is ok? Does it make any sense that those that prefer 10 plates will end up wasting the food or even throwing up when they have taken more than enough?

A typical home using just 15 nos 60W incandescent bulbs is actually using enough energy to serve 12 homes using 15 nos 5W energy saving bulbs.

Lighting is a very important part of our energy need and in this area alone PHCN can do itself a whole lot of good by promoting energy efficiency as the immediate gains are too much to be ignored.

As usual a simple to understand example will be presented to make this issue that is supposed to be obvious clearer.

The core of our lighting needs today come from incandescent bulbs which by design are very energy inefficient.

The typical bulb in our homes or offices today are the 60W or 100W incandescent bulbs. These bulbs have energy efficient alternatives for heaven's sake that are both brighter and reliable.

We have 5W, 7W, 10W or 18W CFL bulbs today that can effortlessly replace these power hungry incandescent bulbs.

If just 60 million Nigerians need about 10 bulbs each for just 8hrs in any given day in the home and/or office we will be looking at

60,000,000 x 60W x 10 x 8 hrs = 288000MW a day
60,000,000 x 60W x 10 x 8 hrs x 30 (days) = 8640000MW a month
60,000,000 x 60W x 10 x 8 hrs x 30 (days) x 12 (months) = 103680000MW a year

At N4.00 per kilowatt = N414,720,000,000.00 = N415B
At N6.00 per kilowatt = N622,080,,000,000.00 = N622B

In about a year from now the figures would be (we have a higher tariff waiting to be implemented)

At N6.00 per kilowatt = N622,080,,000,000.00 = N622B
At N8.00 per kilowatt = N829,440,,000,000.00 = N829B

Nigerians will be required to pay this much for just 8 hrs of light for 10 bulbs in a year.

Now, let us see what we can save by switching to energy saving bulbs

60,000,000 x 5W x 10 x 8 hrs = 24000MW a day
60,000,000 x 5W x 10 x 8 hrs x 30 (days) = 720000MW a month
60,000,000 x 5W x 10 x 8 hrs x 30 (days) x 12 (months) = 8640000MW a year

At N4.00 per kilowatt = N34,560,000,000.00 = N35B
At N6.00 per kilowatt = N51,840,000,000.00 = N52B

In about a year from now the figures would be (we have a higher tariff waiting to be implemented)

At N6.00 per kilowatt = N51,840,000,000.00 = N52B
At N8.00 per kilowatt = N69,120,000,000.00 = N69B

Why should we be spending N415B per year when N35B would do for the same purpose?

Why should we be ready to spend up to N829B in about one year from now when N69B would do?

The emphasis has been on what Nigerians will pay because ultimately the cost of generating electricity will be pushed down to Nigerians whether the cost of generating the electricity is cheap or expensive.

So, it pays for us to reduce our energy needs if we have any hope of getting out of the current energy crisis.

This is common sense, this is workable, this is simple and easy to do and everyone will win with the government being able to generate at least 20% of the required energy need today to carter for Nigerians and at the same time saving enough money for Nigerians that could be used to channel into other productive areas of our lives.

The issue of energy efficiency and energy conservation unfortunately has been hijacked by politicians, environmentalists and the academia alike and as the day goes by it becomes harder to even understand why we should push for energy efficiency.

However, the bottom line remains that energy efficient products reduce our energy needs, saves us money, reduces the amount of energy that needs to be generated by power companies and governments, reduces green house effects as the less energy you produce the less quantity of ozone depleting substances you send to the atmosphere as long as the bulk of energy produced today come from coal or gas fired plants.

We do not need to travel to some developed countries to understand how we can provide stable electricity because some of these countries we seek help from have populations that are not even up to some states in Nigeria so in terms of experience in providing reliable power for over 140 million people these countries simply do not have what it takes.

Even the US depends on coal to generate about 40% of its electricity and yet we have good quality coal in the Eastern part of Nigeria not being utilized.

Wind farms can be setup along the shore lines to generate energy from the abundant wind there.

We flare enough gas to generate a reasonable amount of energy to supplement our energy needs.

We cannot depend on hydro power and gas fired plants as long as we have issues that are yet to be resolved in the Niger Delta unless we are getting gas from the North or West.

The government can subsidize the cost of solar panels and wind generators for individuals that may want to generate their own electricity. Even some developed nations are doing this.

There is simply no reason why Nigerians should be in darkness because we can provide reliable and cost effective electricity if we are really sincere to ourselves.


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