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Nigeria Power Problem - Why Energy Conservation Is A Must

By Afam Nnaji on November, 8 2008

Views: 3,826

The ability to understand a problem is key if any meaningful solution is being expected.
That the state of power supply in Nigeria is low is no news, what is news however is that in spite of money and energy expended thus far in trying to solve this problem the most basic and yet effective approach is being over looked.

To begin with we are energy wasters in Nigeria.

The FG policy on power seems to be focusing on generating more electricity, throwing up figures and cost implications, comparing what Nigeria produces to what South Africa produces etc.

Generating more electricity is a good thing if it will solve the power problem but in reality not only is this approach expensive it is also sheer promise considering the ability to deliver.

Without being technical or playing politics with this very important issue I will attempt to explain using the simplest of terms using an example that we are all familiar with - our home.

A typical home will be used to drive home the message that energy conservation is key, it can't get simpler than this.

We shall base our example on just 10 bulbs (common 60W type) and energy cost of N4.00 per KWh of electricity.

This home with 10 bulbs for just 8 hours a day will consume the following

Daily - 10 (60W bulbs) x 8 (hrs) = 4800W
Monthly - 10 (60W bulbs) x 8 (hrs) x 30 (days) = 144000W
Yearly - 10 (60W bulbs) x 8 (hrs) x 30 (days) x 12 (months) = 1,728,000W

If 1KW of electricity cost N4.00 per hour then in one year this household would have spent

N4.00 x 1728KW = N6,912.00

Now assuming this same household decided to replace the 10 bulbs with energy saving bulbs rated at 10W (they are bright, never mind the low wattage, they are based on energy saving technology).

Daily - 10 (10W bulbs) x 8 (hrs) = 800W
Monthly - 10 (10W bulbs) x 8 (hrs) x 30 (days) = 24000W
Yearly - 10 (10W bulbs) x 8 (hrs) x 30 (days) x 12 (months) = 288,000W

If 1KW of electricity cost N4.00 per hour then in one year this household would have spent

N4.00 x 288KW = N1,152.00

You may say this is just a single household, no big deal, just wait until we get more practical.

Assuming we have just 40 million households connected to PHCN here is what really concerns the government now as regards electricity generation

For the typical home using the 60W bulbs PHCN will have to generate

1,728,000W x 40,000,000 = 69,120,000,000,000W

And Nigerians would have spent

69,120,000,000KW x N4.00 = N276,480,000,000.00 just to light 10 bulbs for 8 hrs a day.

For the typical home using the 10W bulbs PHCN will have to generate

288,000W x 40,000,000 = 11,520,000,000,000W

And Nigerians would have spent

11,520,000,000KW x N4.00 = N46,080,000,000.00 just to light 10 bulbs for 8 hrs a day.

Now, which makes sense, to spend N276 Billion a year or to spend N46 Billion for the same amount of energy?

The idea of reducing our energy needs is simple and yet workable and effective. The cost savings are there for all to see and feel. This is not rocket science, it is common sense but again I cannot assume that I know why the relevant agencies and powers that be are not looking at this very efficient alternative or strategy for now.

To further drive home this point I have been consistently receiving energy bills for less than N500.00 per month (including the compulsory N130.00) for a long time now to the extent that on more than 2 occasions PHCN officials suggested that my meter may be faulty (even when they come to take readings every month). We all know how PHCN rate homes in Nigeria, Mr A has an AC therefore his bill cannot be less than N3,000.00 a month without knowing if the AC has been bad for ages.

After explaining to them why my energy consumption has crashed and that I never run out of power supply because I have an inverter backup system that takes over when regular power fails they want me to help build inverter systems for them and even promise to change their own bulbs.

I have a small 950VA generator (comes up maybe once in a week or once in 2 weeks to charge my battery bank and that is if the power outage is long).

For about 3 years now I don't even have a standby generator in my office and yet I hardly ever run out of power supply because I choose appliances to use very carefully.

Put differently, in Nigeria today you can crash your energy needs (and ultimately the bills) and enjoy steady power supply without depending on the generator.

Bigger is not always better so the government should consider a serious energy conservation policy while planning to guarantee steady power supply. Trying to match what South Africa currently produces is an effort in futility since our needs and populations are not the same.

A strong policy on the power requirements for appliances getting into Nigeria is needed. Why would Nigeria be a dumping ground for CRT monitors (250W average) where LCD monitors (40W average) are available and are getting cheaper by the day?

Information Technology is nothing without Power as computers don't run on urine.

Ghana is doing well in trying to retrieve the regular 60W bulbs from its citizens while replacing them with 4 nos 15W energy saving bulbs because it is cheaper for the government to do so than for the government to generate more electricity to meet with the current demands.

In 2009 it will be illegal for anyone to use the regular 60W bulb type in Australia as energy efficient alternatives are available.

I do not see any reason why PHCN will not increase the tarrif of those that waste energy in Nigeria. Some homes have their security bulbs on 100% of the time and only get to touch the switch when they need to change the bulbs. There should be a monitoring unit that should sanction homes like these as we cannot be talking about power problem and at the same time wasting power.

While I agree that Nigeria has a lot of basic power problems to tackle it is however not enough excuse for us not to be thinking about saving the environment (since we are part of the world anyway) and seriously looking into renewable energy.

I do not see any reason why the government will not subsidize the cost of solar panels and wind turbines for those that may want to generate their own electricity just as it is done in some developed nations.

I do not see any reason why the government cannot setup serious research institutes that would look for ways to develop solar panels and wind turbines in Nigeria.

There are a lot of things I do not see the reasons why they are happening but I do see a nation blessed with abundant natural resources that if well tapped into would transform the lives of millions of its citizens while propelling the nation forward towards attaining most if not all its set goals in the VISION 2020 AGENDA.


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