Renewable energy is generally defined as energy that is collected from resources which are naturally replenished on a human timescale, such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves and geothermal heat.
Renewable energy often provides energy in some important areas such as electricity generation, heating/cooling, transportation and industrial purposes. Globally, investment in renewable technologies amounted to more than US$214billion in 2013 with countries like China and US investing tremendously in wind, hydro, solar and biofuels. Over 30 countries already have renewable energy contributing more than 20 percent of energy supply. At least two nations, Iceland and Norway, generate all their electricity using renewable energy. Several other conscious countries have set a target to realize 100 percent renewable power in the future. Denmark and Netherlands have already committed to reach 100 percent by 2050.
In Africa, Tanzania’s Scaling-Up Renewable Energy Program is giving extraordinary attention to raising power from renewable energy which will be accessed by over 75% of Tanzania’s residents by 2035. This is in line with the UN Sustainable Energy for All Initiative and the Post 2015 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Following the SDGs, in late 2015, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) approved a new regulation to encourage renewable power investments in a bid to generate 2000mw of clean energy by 2020. The new law, “feed-in tariff regulations for renewable energy sourced electricity in Nigeria”, requires electricity distribution companies (DISCOs) in the country to source 50% of the electricity from renewable such as biomass, small hydro, wind and solar energy. NERC projected that around 50% (1000mw) of the targeted renewable electricity is expected to be achieved by 2018.
Shortly, after the privatization of Nigeria’s electricity system, energy supply in the country has been insufficient in quantity, quality and form at an exorbitant rate. It is only in Nigeria that energy providers can fix, increase rates and still refuse to supply the required energy without caution. Also, it is only in Nigeria that government can allow businessmen to collect rents and rates without commensurate service delivery.
There is need for the Federal Government to look at existing policies on renewable energy in order to boost its power generating capacity across board. In as much as the energy issue may affect all the SDGs #7, #11 and #13 should encourage Nigerian government to pursue a responsible energy mix towards solving its electricity problems.
Renewable energy in exhaustible, clean and have longer term benefits. We can be sure of good health, sustainable communities, clean water, responsible production and sustainable environment. The mix of energy will enhance sustainability, lower costs, reduce pollution, improve wellbeing make the world a better place.
According to Solutions Project, Nigeria can transition to 100% energy with projected energy mix by 2050. Nigeria will need to tap into wind, water and solar (WWS) for all purposes including electricity generation, transportation and manufacturing. It is estimated that onshore wind will contribute about 20%, hydroelectric 0.8%, wave energy 0.1%, solar 79.1%. Nigeria will save up to 36% of the cost incurred in deploying fossil fuels while improving efficiency and conservation of energy at the long run. The renewable energy transition can generate up to 600,000 jobs with over 25,000 in operations and about 300,000 in construction jobs alone.
The best news is that over 400,000 lives will be saved from air pollution every year and health expenses of over $2,700billion will be saved by the citizens being 38.3% of its GDP. For this mix of energy to be deployed to attain 100% target in 2050, it requires an insignificant percentage of land of about two percent of the entire 927,000sq.km.
Nigeria must follow-up on the landmark regulation which mandated electricity distribution companies to acquire minimum percentage of electricity from renewable energy sources. The Nigerian Electricity Regulation Commission required Discos to source at least 50% of their total procurement from renewable energy.
SkyPower and FAS Energy signed series of agreements to setup 3GW of solar power across the country. There are other Independent Power Projects (IPPs) which are focused on tapping into renewable sources. Nigeria must pursue similar sustainable utility-scale power projects to overcome its current energy crises. 100% renewable is possible and it must begin now. Let us break free from fossil fuel.
*Emeka Ulor is an environmental activist and a digital media purveyor