Gas-powered generating sets as new brides
One essential appliance that most Nigerians have come to heavily rely on, in the past 20 years or thereabouts, is the gasoline-powered electricity generating set.
Not only are they are found in almost every home, it is practicably unthinkable in contemporary times, to run a Nigerian home without a power-generating set to augment electricity supply.
Conservative estimates from unconfirmed sources put the number of Nigerians that rely on private electricity generating plants, to boost their power needs at over 70 million, while a princely sum of over N2 trillion is said to be spent on fuelling these appliances yearly.
This heavy reliance on power-generating sets, is as a result of the poor power supply from the national grid.
Conversely, the country’s electricity needs are on the increase, and clearly beyond what government has to give out. The last update on the Ministry of Power website revealed that the peak power generated as at Monday, June 6, 2016 was 2,687.2 megawatts, while the peak demand forecast was 12, 800 megawatts. The impact of the yawning shortfall in supply is better imagined than said.
In many areas in Lagos State, for instance, power supply averages four hours per day, sometimes far less until the recent past. This development explains the heavy power generating plant usage among the over 10 million residents of the state.
A shipping agent who gave his name as Onyebuchi, told The Guardian that he spends N2, 900 for 20 litres of fuel, to power his 2.9kva generator for three hours, every five days.
Ekene, a trader at Ladipo Market, in the same vein spends N18, 000 monthly to power his 2.5kva generator, that is, N4, 500 weekly. Ekene’s spending is higher than Onyebuchi’s because he spends longer hours running his power-generating plant.
According to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Nigerians consume an average of 41million litres of fuel per day. This figure sometime rises to 47 million litres/day.
Apart from fuelling cars and sundry automobiles, a reasonable amount of this fuel consumption is done by electricity generating sets.
Incessant fuel scarcity, coupled with prohibitive cost of maintenance, led some business-minded Nigerians to introduce into the country, the idea of powering small power-generating plants with gas, which they believe is much more cost effective.
The device that makes this possible is the dual fuel carburettor, which enables gasoline generators to use either gas (propane) or petrol as fuel.
Barely a year after its introduction, and because of the patronage it is enjoying, the ranks of its distributors, retailers, and installation technicians are already swelling, as they are found in different locations across the country, including Surulere, Lekki and Badagry in Lagos; Abuja, Port Harcourt, Uyo, Warri, Calabar, Owerri and other major cities in the country.
According to Afolabi Akinola, a distributor and installation technician, there are two types of dual fuel carburettor. Those that are pre-assembled and designed for both 2kva to 3.5kva generating sets, and those designed for 3.6 to 10kva generators. The former is sold for N20, 000 while the latter goes for N25, 000.
He further explained that no modification is required for the generators or its frame during installation.
Makinde Oluwatosin, another installation technician, informed that that dual fuel carburettor is primed to work with only gasoline generators and not with diesel-powered ones, added that all 2kva to 3.5kva generators use similar installation packages, while the 3.6kva to10kva generators also use package in the same range or category.
Speaking on its cost saving benefits, Akinola, said although every generator has a slightly different characteristics, a generator running on LPG (cooking gas) will use between 0.25-0.4kg of LPG for every kw/hour of electricity, depending on the capacity of the generating set and the load on it.
He further claimed that an average of 12.5kg cylinder, with a modified generator would provide between 35 to 40 hours of power supply.
Akinola added that since the device presents the option of running on either petrol or cooking gas, Nigerians can no longer be stranded during petrol scarcity. He also maintained that running generators on gas is cheaper than doing so on petrol.
Mr. Deji Adeleye, a civil servant, is one of those enjoying the services of this novel innovation, and is of the opinion that it was highly economical, especially in the area of maintenance.
According to him, before he did the conversion, he hitherto used 10 litres of petrol daily, and between 50-70 litres per week. But nine months after the conversion, he has only serviced the device once, just as it no longer emits carbon monoxide.
Proud of the performance of his hybrid generator, Adeleye has since introduced many people to it. One of such is Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Udom Williams, who two weeks ago also converted his.
The police officer, who said he hitherto spent N3, 500 every five days to enjoy 15 hours of electricity within that time frame, confessed that the volume of gas he bought for the same amount, lasts well over five days making it far more economical than petrol.
It is for this reason that he has also fitted his water pump with the dual fuel carburettor.
However, because of the recent surge in the price of cooking gas, Adedoyin Jaiyesimi, a DSTV staff member thinks the difference between using gas and petrol to power electricity generating set is marginal.
In fact, since 12.5kg of gas supplies him electricity for two and a half days, and 30 litres of fuel does same for a period of two days, he has elected to juggle between using gas and petrol to generate the electricity that he needs.
Jaiyesimi admitted to also introducing up to 10 people to the idea, seven of whom have already fitted their devices with the dual fuel carburetor, just as he revealed that a generator seller at Alaba International Market, Lagos, has started customising his generators with the device after being introduced to it.
Being a novel development in households, some persons are expressing safety concerns, but Akinola is quick to dismiss such concerns saying; “If the developed countries in the world are confidently running their generators on gas, developing countries should also embrace the idea. We use gas for cooking in our various homes and we even keep the cylinder in an enclosed cabinet in the kitchen and we are not scared. Why should we be scared of using gas to power our generators in the open?
“It is far more dangerous to store petrol in jerry cans than to store gas in cylinders. The quality of petrol degrades significantly after three months of storage, whereas gas can stay for years in cylinders without any degradation or reduction in quality,” Akinola explained.
He continued, “The chances of fire hazard while using gas-powered generator is far less than when using petrol because, there is less danger of spill. The fuel tank of gasoline generators is mounted directly on the hot exhaust. Any little spill could result to fire outbreak when the generator is running. In case of leakage or spillage of gas while generator is running, the gas simply diffuses into the air.
“Secondly, carbon monoxide emission from gasoline generators is very high and it kills rapidly when too much of it is inhaled. Apart from being a silent killer, it destroys or degrades the ozone layer in the atmosphere, thus fast leading to global warming. Carbon monoxide emission of generators running on gas is very low. The fumes from the exhaust is cleaner with no carbon deposits. It makes our environment greener and also eco-friendly,” he said.