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Nigeria Has Adequate Resources For Biomass Energy – Adaju

Dr Segun Adaju (right)

Dr Segun Adaju is the Project Manager, Bank of Industry (BOI)/United Nations Development Project (UNDP), Access to Renewable Energy (AtRE) Project. In this interview with NKECHI ISAAC, he explains how Nigeria stands to benefit from Biomass resources.

As the Project Manager of Access to Renewable Energy (AtRE) and for the benefit of readers who don’t know what renewable energy is, can you expatiate on the subject?

Renewable energy is energy that is generated from natural resources like the sun, water, wind, biomass, which can be replaced. They can be replenished and can be renewed, for example, every morning like 7am, the sun starts to shine and then sunset in the evening it goes, but the next day again it starts to shine. So it doesn’t matter that because it shone yesterday it would affect the way it would shine tomorrow, so that’s how it is renewable. Now lets look at the non renewable sources like coal, petrol, oil, they can dry up. Infact, it’s been estimated that oil will dry up at a time, so this are energy sources that cannot be replenished (non renewable). The second distinction is that renewable energy sources are very clean energy sources and do not have harmful effects on the environment and causes what we call climate change and a simple analysis is what we’re seeing recently, flood everywhere. It’s a result of climate change.

When you were listing renewable energy sources you mentioned Bio-mass, what is bio-mass?

Biomass is resources generated from plant materials like wood that can be degraded. When you say degrade, that can be converted, convertible materials. And principally it’s the result of what is called photosynthesis. That is plant materials capturing energy from the sun and storing them. For example, if wood is dry and you put light its ignited. The process is very simple, the sun shines so the plant keeps capturing the energy from the sun and then it dries up. So when you put light its ignited, so it’s the energy that it has stored from the sun that it releases, that is what is called biomass in a very simple term, all these woods that we use to cook, the sawdust, even animal waste is also a source of biomass energy.

Do you think Nigeria has enough biomass products to power itself?

Nigeria is very rich in Biomass resources but not yet products, we have a lot of plants, I mean we are blessed with an environment and geography that supports the growth of anything. If you are travelling between Lagos and Ibadan, you’ll see forests for kilometers, but if the rate at which we use these resources, although they are reliable, but we are depleting them at a faster rate than we are creating them, we cut woods today or one tree from the forest, nobody plants another one to replace them, but overall we have adequate biomass resources for biomass energy in Nigeria because there are waste like saw dust, wood chips which should not waste away. We can convert them into energy and at the same time also, biomass sources like waste. For example, Lagos generates so much waste everyday, those waste can be converted into energy by simply putting them in a small device called “Bio-Digesters”, so it can digest those waste through bacteria and the rest, scientists know more about that, and you can even use it to cook in your house. We have so many resources, biomass energy in Nigeria. I strongly feel that even developing biomass industry will have more impact, it would create more jobs, it will create adequate energy, it will solve the problems of how do we deal with waste, I mean imagine converting all the waste in Lagos to energy, you don’t have to worry and then, there is a link between that source of energy and agriculture. For example, all the waste materials like rice husk, corn stalks, even things like cassava are all sources of bio- energy, so we have more than enough resources to generate energy through biomass in Nigeria.

So, obviously we are not doing it right?

No, we are not there yet. We just need to know the technologies that are available and how to apply them and then it would be very easy. I mean I’ve visited some biomass plants where waste fruits like orange and apple, peeled aspect of it, they are now converted to energy. So you can imagine, you know peels from cassava, even yam peels they are put together and converted. I saw a plant in India that was generating about 1.75megabytes, just from waste of food sources that is a problem for somebody in mile 12 Lagos. If you go there how we manage the waste is a problem. They are sitting on money and they don’t know what to do with it.

So how can we tap into these resources?

The first thing is to create awareness so that people can know, that look, the waste I’m even generating in my house is actually money and it’s a material to generate energy. Once you create awareness and people know what biomass means, what bio-gas means, what bio-diesel, bio-ethanol, then  you let them know that their regular sources of energy is more harmful than this biomass we’re talking about. For example, using kerosene to cook, using raw wood the way it is, you are wasting a lot of resources. The second step is to begin to use the things in our homes Before you know it, entrepreneurs would get interested and they will start doing business in that area. Of course, there are a lot of technologies we can first import and bring them in and then develop our own local technologies. Also, we need government’s support in terms of policy so that we can be able to use our resources to generate our needs. It is not all the time we have to import what we want to consume or use so we need government’s. policy to encourage production, to support entrepreneurs, to create incentives like tax holidays and the rest and before you know it the sector will blossom. We Nigerians are entrepreneurs. Once you create an avenue and there is profit in it, it becomes something else. For me, I strongly believe that in the next 3 -5 years, it would be a different ball game in the local energy development in Nigeria.

What impact do you think exploring the biomass sector can make in the nation’s revenue generation?

Yes, it would add to our generation. One, instead of importing energy sources, we produce locally, it conserves our foreign exchange. Secondly, this energy is used by industries. One of the major reasons why unemployment is high and why we don’t see too many entrepreneurs out there and manufacturing companies are shutting down is because energy is insufficient. So, if we have adequate energy, there will obviously be more employed people. I mean in China, India, America or wherever it is because energy is very regular. That’s why people can set up a small factory in their own house and produce products, so the Gross Domestic items (GDP) is increased. In addition, it generates employment and employments, of course, have its own income impact and multiplier. So it’s a win-win situation.

Source: Leadership