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Emerging energy market and Nigeria!

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Solar Energy

Solar Energy

DrillBytes brings to the fore, this week, the price attraction of solar energy as a result of the fast pace the world is moving, the reluctance with which Nigeria is tagging along and what can be done in closing the gap in the rapidly changing energy dynamics.

In a report culled from the Indian express online of July 25th, the discovery of a cheaper solar cell material will further drive down prices and attract more people to embrace clean energy in the years ahead. The new discovery, Perovskite is relatively easy to process and therefore, cheaper to manufacture but also has an efficiency of 22 per cent, close to the currently used silicon-based cells of 25 per cent.

“Silicon is very labour-intensive and requires very high temperature to process but with alternative cells, there is efficiency in capturing the energy from the Sun” said Wei Lin Leong from Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research. The dominance of commercial and research investment in Silicon has made it difficult to convince researchers and commercial developers to adopt new technology.

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“This new class of solar cell is only around four years old, so although it has high performance, people don’t understand the system and why it’s doing so well,” Leong said. Her study, published recently in the journal, Advanced Materials, provided important insights into the basic physics of perovskite solar cells by measuring their efficiency at different temperatures and light intensities. For most conventional or silicon-based solar cell technologies, efficiency worsens as temperature rises.

However, the perovskite cells still worked at higher temperatures, with performance peaking at around 330 Kelvin or 57 degrees Celsius and then declining slightly after that, meaning their performance will be high even on a relatively hot rooftop. However, more research needs to be done to ensure that the lead in perovskite does not leak and how to make cells big enough for commercial use.

Nigeria is at the moment generating power mostly from fossil fuel at a time the world is vigorously campaigning and implementing alternative clean and renewable energy even though some Nigerians are individually powering their lives and livelihood with solar energy. As if this is not bad enough, some Nigerians are vandalising pipelines as a source of living and as a demonstration of their resolve to ground the country’s economic base for reasons best known to them.

A solution, it would appear, is being worked out. Now, the net effect of vandalism of pipelines is the fact that crude oil producing companies cannot export as much as before, as some of their export terminals have been blown off! The second effect is that electricity supply by Distribution Companies (DISCOs) have been seriously compromised translating to longer hours of darkness than electricity to consumers.

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Now, some marginal oil producing companies who export their production through the terminals of the International Oil Companies (IOCs) have had to shut down their production and with that, thousands of Nigerians have lost their means of livelihood! An operator producing 25,000 barrels per day, BPD is currently producing 5,000 BPD! The idea of refining crude oil in Nigeria is a most welcome development because it will weaken the demand on foreign exchange and strengthen the Naira further than its present state besides guaranteeing the availability of fuel to consumers.

With this development, the next question will be how soon will Nigeria catch up with the rest of the civilised world in migrating from fossil fuel to alternative clean energy sources which is becoming cheaper with new discoveries and innovation? An objective answer will likely be that some Nigerians making a fortune from ruptured infrastructure will first of all need to have their heads re-examined, after which the government will need to take a meticulously objective look at what it can turn around in the sector by maximising what it can from fossil fuel in the short and medium terms while embracing alternative clean energy in the long term.

The government must equally look at its strengths and weaknesses in the sector and combine such to achieve noticeable milestones by Nigerians. Is the budget implementable in the face of clear and present danger from vandals? How much exactly does the government need, to turn around the sector? How much does it have or is willing to spend? How much aid does the government presently have from friendly countries and how is it being utilised? Must the government be running some of the businesses in the sector or privatise and make maximum returns from it in the present and present continuous tenses? These are some of the questions the government needs to sit down and address and in good time too just so the country does not end up regressing in a world that is making practical and demonstrable progress in safe and sustainable energy. Going this route will be the fastest way Nigeria can close the widening gap between it and the rest of the world in the emerging energy market. May God grant the government the wisdom to do the needful in the matter!

. Kayode Adeoye is an energy expert in Lagos.


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solar energyWei Lin Leong
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