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    The Role and Giant Strides of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in the Renewable Energy Paradigm Shift


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    The National Energy Policy Framework paved way for the establishment of a Renewable Energy Division by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in August 2005, as a national response to the Global aspiration to curb greenhouse gases and develop the Nation’s biofuel industry.
    34.The NNPC’s Renewable Energy Division from its establishment had paid rapt attention to the development of the Nation’s Biofuels industry to achieve the objectives of environmental sustainability, energy diversification and security for the Nation through the identification and development of commercial Biofuel Programmes designed to be implemented through Public Private Partnerships (PPPs).
    35.The Concept of the NNPC Renewable Energy initiative is in pursuit of a Low Carbon Path for Environmental Sustainability and also the Transformation of NNPC to an Integrated Energy Company.
    36.The Business is anchored on the synergy of downstream assets, capabilities and infrastructural facilities. Other NOCs/IOCs are also venturing into the Renewable Energy Business, for example: Shell and BP are producing Automotive Fuel-Ethanol in Brazil.

    Strategic Goal and Key Objectives of the NNPC Renewable Energy Program include:-
    a. Engage in commercial production of Biofuels and earn Carbon Credits from CDM Project activities while exploiting other Renewable Energy Resources.
    b. Engage in the commercial in-country production of Biofuels from IJV operations
    c. Achieve Fuel Ethanol production Capacity of 84 Million Litres per annum for domestic use, export and become a dominant player in Biofuels Business in Nigeria.
    d. Generate at least 12.0 Million CERs (Carbon Credits) through CDM Projects.
    e. Participate actively in the Global Carbon emissions reduction initiatives
    NNPC and Commercial Biofuels Projects in Nigeria:

    37. The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has commenced large scale commercial biofuel ventures to complement fossil fuel production.
    38. To this end, the Corporation has conducted seven (7) site specific bankable feasibility studies; Two (2) Sugarcane fuel-ethanol projects in Agasha-Guma and Buruku – Benue State, Sugarcane fuel-ethanol project in Kupto-Malleri – Gombe State, Okeluse Cassava fuel-ethanol project – Ondo State, Ebenebe Cassava fuel-ethanol project – Anambra State, and two (2) Oil Palm Biodiesel Projects in Iwuru and Ikom – Cross River State.

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    The Ondo Biofuel Project:
    39. In November 2017, the Corporation signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ondo State Government to establish a 65 million litres biofuel plant in Okeluse, Ondo State. The plant and other associated projects, such as cassava feedstock production, would create at least one million direct and indirect jobs.
    40. The project would be partly funded by some investors bringing in Foreign Direct Investment into the Country. The outstanding benefits of this project include:- reduction of fuel import and greenhouse gas emission; boosting the production of animal feeds from by-products of the plant; just to mention a few.

    41. For the fact that cassava is produced in excess in Nigeria and more so that a special breed would be required that would not interfere with the activities of farmers cultivating other breeds of cassava or crops as foodstuff ensure that there is no threat to food security.
    42. The Government of Ondo State has already agreed to make 15,000 hectares of land available towards the cultivation of the cassava specie for the production of the fuel ethanol.
    43. On completion, the project would have the capacity to produce at least 65 million litres per annum of ethanol that could be blended into our Premium Motor Spirit (PMS)/petrol and will be suitable for use in Nigeria and neighbouring Countries.
    44. The biofuel project would also be integrated with a 40 megawatts electricity plant that would supply power to the host communities. The Corporation intends to commercialise the greenhouse gas emission reduction capability of the project to win carbon credit for the Nation.

    The Benue Biofuel Project:
    45. By December 2017, the NNPC had identified some potential core investors for the proposed biofuel plant in Benue. The core investor would provide 70 per cent of the required funding for the project. The Benue State Government and the NNPC will take up the balance equity contribution.
    46. Upon completion, the plant is projected to generate about one million direct and indirect jobs for the populace. It is worth noting that the project would help link the energy sector with the agricultural sector through the commercial production of biofuels from selected energy crops.
    47. Other components of the project will include a sugarcane feedstock plantation of about 20,000 hectares; a cane mill and raw/refined sugar plant capable of producing 126,000 tonnes annually, in addition to the fuel-ethanol processing plant with production capacity of 84 million litres annually.
    48. The biofuel project will also help to establish the bio-gas cogeneration power plant which will generate 64 MW of electricity; a carbon dioxide recovery and bottling plant that will produce 2,000 tonnes annually as well as an animal feed plant that will produce 63,000 tonnes annually.

    The Kogi Ethanol plant and Bio-Refinery
    49. In March 2018, the Kogi State Government, signed a Memorandum of Understanding, with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation for the setting up of a biofuel plant and refinery in Kogi State.

    50. The project which will create over two million jobs is also part of plans to expand the use of biofuels across the Country. The programme will make use of out-growers to ensure adequate feedstock for the refinery as well as for export.

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    The Kebbi Ethanol Plant and Bio-refinery
    51. In November 2017, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between NNPC and Kebbi State Government for establishing a biofuel plant and refinery in Kebbi State.

    52. The 20,000 hectare project will use sugarcane as feedstock, create over a million jobs across the value chain, facilitate diversification of NNPC’s business opportunities and increase domestic sugar production. Land validation of potential project sites is currently on-going.

    The Cross River State Biodiesel Project
    53. The Cross River Biodiesel project will develop an Oil Palm plantation co-located with crude Palm Oil, cogeneration plant and other facilities on 26,000 hectares project site.
    54. The Oil Palm will be processed into fuel grade biodiesel and industrial crude palm oil as the main product – while CO2 and animal feeds are produced as by-products. The biodiesel will be blended with diesel in a mix of 20% biodiesel and 80% AGO and sold as B20 in the domestic market – while any unutilised biodiesel quantity will be exported. Community integration has been completed for the project and ESIA is in progress.

    Other Biofuels Initiatives
    55. NNPC is also in discussion with the State Governments of Bauchi, Jigawa, Kaduna, Niger and Adamawa on sugarcane fuel-ethanol Projects; Osun and Abia on cassava fuel-ethanol Projects.

    Conversion of flared gas into methanol
    56. The NNPC is making another foray into renewable energy to maintain energy security, boost national economy and position Nigeria for the fuel export market.
    57. The NNPC is also embarking on projects that will convert flared gas into methanol to further stabilise energy supply in the Country. This initiative was further encouraged by the abundance of natural gas in Nigeria. Methanol is useful in energy, power and petrochemical industries.
    58. NNPC till date is also welcoming institutional collaboration and academic partnership with Universities and research centres in promoting research and innovation with the aim of diversifying the energy sector.

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    A Clarion Call to Nigerian Mechanical Engineers:
    59. It is important to emphasise the need for more mechanical engineers with sound and creative inclination to get involved in the implementation of the Renewable Energy Initiatives. Conversely, hybrid disciplines like Mechatronics will also be required to bridge the skill gap in the industry which has tremendous prospect of growth, wealth and job creation.

    60. I call on all Mechanical Engineers with an interest in renewable energy engineering and technology to improve their skills and expertise in the following areas of specialty:
    a. System reliability: renewable energy systems not only need to survive but they also need to continue operating optimally and safely under extremely hostile environmental conditions.
    b. Control theory and modelling/simulation: power converters require control of their switch trigger timings. Motors and generators require specialised controls. The Energy grid as a whole requires complex distributed controls to remain stable.
    c. Mechanics (mounting heavy components, designing for shock and vibration): heavy power equipment and mounting considerations to cater for shock and vibration stresses during transport, installation and operations are incredibly important.
    d. Enclosure/packaging design: to reduce the cost of solar installations as the large size of renewable energy systems drives materials cost, manufacturing labor, inventory overhead, shipping costs and installation costs.
    e. Magnetics: several magnetic components (e.g. motors, generators, inductors and transformers) are found in every single solar, wind, electric vehicle, and power distribution box, core windings, and magnetic flux lines, are necessary in magnetics design.
    f. Thermodynamics (thermal and airflow design): to put in perspective the heat losses dissipated from industrial-scale solar inverter; etc.
    g. Materials reliability and cost: capacitors are designed by chemists and physicists but their reliability and cost are determined by mechanical engineers who package them. Batteries are designed by chemists but mechanical engineers make the packaging safe. They also make sure the materials inside every type of renewable energy system do not corrode under salty, humid or high-voltage conditions.
    h. Renewable energy research and development: to explore new frontiers of Renewable Energy Technologies for better product development and energy efficiency.

    61. In conclusion, it is not in doubt that the World needs a clean energy revolution in order to break the inordinate dependence on fossil fuels with its attendant environmental issues. Such a revolution would enhance global energy security, promote enduring economic growth, tackle environmental challenges and break the long-standing link between economic growth and carbon dioxide emission levels.

    62. Nigeria on its part is endowed with tremendous prospect of growth in Renewable Energy Technologies on account of its available hydroelectric potentials, longer hours of sunshine, impressive wind speeds in the coastal, desert and mountainous regions and land mass for the cultivation of energy crops, such as:- jatropha curcas, sugarcane, oil palm and cassava. The eventual utilisation of these energy resources will promote energy diversification for the rapid socio-economic development of the Nation.

    63. At the center of this envisaged transformation, is the Nigerian Mechanical Engineer who is expected to play a pivotal role. In the same vein the NNPC, as the energy industry leader, is ever ready to partner with the Nigerian Engineering Community, the Academia and other relevant stakeholders to deliver on its mandate of guaranteeing the Nation’s energy security.

    64. I thank the President of the Nigerian Society of Engineers and the Chairman of the Occasion, Engr. Adekunle Mokuolu (FNSE); the National Chairman of the Nigerian Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Engr. Dr. Elijah Robinson (FNIMechE, MNSE) and his Council members; the Distinguished Guest of Honour, Engr. Amb. Hon. Bunu Sheriff Musa (FNSE, FAEng, OFR, NPOM) and the organisers for inviting me to share my insights on the topic.

    65. Distinguished Engineers, Ladies and Gentlemen, I rest my oars and thank you for the rapt attention!

    Long live NIMechE!
    Long live NNPC!!
    Long live Federal Republic of Nigeria!!!

    Dr. Maikanti Kacalla Baru, FNSE, FNIMechE, FNSChE
    Group Managing Director
    25th July, 2018

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