Experts under the auspices of Institute of Appraisers and Cost Engineers, a division of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), have maintained that diversification of the nation’s energy sources is key to sustainable energy.
The experts unanimously adopted this at its 2016 national technical conference with the theme “Cost engineering, engineering economy and engineering valuation perspectives on adequate, reliable and sustainable energy in Nigeria” held in Abuja.
The newly elected chairman of the institute, Dr Charles Mbelede, in his opening remarks, said the conference was a platform for the engineers to make meaningful contributions on issues of national importance, adding this year’s conference focused on adequate, reliable and sustainable energy in Nigeria.
“As you are aware, adequate, reliable and sustainable energy is critical to sustainable community development. It promotes economic growth and is the bedrock of better living conditions. Presently, we are in the midst of near energy collapse in the country; energy infrastructure is deteriorating and needs to be replaced or enhanced. Existing public funding sources are inadequate to meet the increasing energy needs but the problem is more than money.
“What we believe is required is a broad, robust and reliable and sustainable life cycle planning for the full realisation of adequate, reliable and sustainable energy configuration to enhance economic growth, employment generation and wealth creation along with a robust framework for sustainable energy infrastructure development,” he pointed out.
He added: “Professional bodies proffer solutions to address the entire energy infrastructure challenges in the country but we can cast a stone across the water to create many ripples. That is the essence of this conference. We believe that engineering valuation, cost engineering and engineering economy principles when properly applied with attention to professional details would enhance economic growth and promote sustainable development.”
Delivering a paper on “Engineering economy for adequate, reliable and sustainable energy in Nigeria”, the coordinator, Materials Science and Engineering Programme, African University of Science and Technology (AUST), Abuja, Prof. Peter Onwualu, noted that the gap between energy demand and production in Nigeria is huge.
According to him, “Out of installed capacity of about 8000MW of electricity, generation capacity varies between 30 to 45 percent of the installed capacity; the installed capacity is only about 20 percent of the energy needs of the country; over 90 percent of industries rely on self power generation. For example MTN has over 6000 generators to power their base stations at a running cost of 5.5 million dollars annually.
“Per capita consumption of electricity is approximately 125kWh compared to 4500, 1934, 1379kWh in South Africa, Brazil and China respectively; only about 50 percent of households in Nigeria have access to electricity from the national grid; although Nigeria produces and exports crude oil, we import almost all diesel, petrol, kerosene and aviation fuel used in the country; up to 50 percent of Nigerians still rely on fuel wood for cooking, using inefficient open fire, while another 30 percent rely on kerosene using energy inefficient stoves.”
Speaking on renewables, Onwualu noted that almost all solar technologies are imported while other renewable technologies including wind, biomass, biogas, improved cooking stove, biofuels contribute less than 1 percent to the national GDP.
The coordinator, who is a former director-general of the Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC), said energy generation, distribution and management require large scale projects which are expensive, adding for a successful execution of the projects there should be adequate plans carried out with scientific methods of engineering economy which would enable the best alternatives to be selected.
He recommended that economic appraisers and cost engineers be engaged as consultants to advise on alternative and proper path to follow for project execution for adequate, reliable and sustainable energy in Nigeria.
He also recommended that engineers involved in the planning and implementation of energy projects should undergo continuous education and training to be familiar with the modern tools to enhance execution of energy projects in the country, expressing the belief that these could reduce project costs by as much as 20 percent and improve sustainability of power projects by as much as 30 percent.
Earlier in his remarks, president of the NSE, Engr. Otis Anyaeji, felicitated with the institute, pledging the society’s readiness to partner and collaborate with it in the fulfillment of its objectives. He described energy as key to national development, saying no country has achieved meaningful development without sustainable energy.