The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Kayode Fayemi, has called on Lafarge Africa, a construction solutions provider in Nigeria, to support the federal government’s drive towards ensuring adequate power generation and distribution, particularly in industrial hubs.
Fayemi, who made the request during a recent working visit to Lafarge Africa’s Ewekoro Cement plant, commended the company for its efforts at generating sufficient power for its operations across the country, especially through the use of biomass. He also praised the cement manufacturer for its initiative of recycling palm kernel shells, which are waste material, as biomass to generate power for the kilns used in making cement.
According to the Minister, the use of biomass in any production process saves money that would have been used to buy fuel and foreign exchange. He assured that although presently, the power generated from Lafarge’s biomass plant generates half of the energy used in firing its kilns, but they will ultimately get to 100 per cent.
“An environment-friendly production site is something to take away from Lafarge Africa here in Ogun state and I hope there are lessons to take on board. That is not to say that coal should not be used because we have coal in Nigeria that will also save us foreign exchange,” Fayemi said.
Reiterating the importance of power generation for existing and new factories as being critical, Fayemi also noted that power is an essential need for Nigerians, that is why government is desperately in need of adding more to its generation in order to fuel plants and factories that are springing up.
“Every day, you have a new company springing up and you want to ensure that there is enough power for those companies, whether it’s biomass, coal or natural gas or renewable energy, you what to ensure that you have enough power to use. So, for us, we are impressed with what we have seen and we want to support Lafarge Africa to expand its operations,” the Minister said.
In his response, the Country CEO, Lafarge Africa Plc, Michel Puchercos, noted that the effects of the slowdown in the economy prompted the company to seek an alternative means to generate energy for its Ewekoro and other plants.
“We realised last year that dollars was scarce and energy was scarce in Nigeria. So, the company reacted very strongly to the situation. We said to ourselves, how can we do both? We wanted to do both – keep on producing and saving energy and also getting US dollars. This is how the idea of using biomass came,” Puchercos explained.
He further said that “Ogun state being an agriculture hub as well, made it possible for us to produce 50 per cent power from biomass in 2016, which we can grow to 70 – 80 per cent. We aim to roll out the scheme in other plants- Ashaka, in Cross River state, Gombe state and just across the road in Ewekoro II.”
According to Puchercos, the production of biomass fuel from palm kernels isn’t restricted to recycling palm kernels. “Burning and recycling wastes like silica and aluminium which are dangerous to man can generate electricity and improve the standard of living. If Nigeria is ready, we are ready to support,” he assured.
It will be recalled that Lafarge Africa a member of LafargeHolcim, in partnership with Ogun state commissioned a biomass alternative fuel feeding system last September. Using palm kernel shells the plant generates about half of the energy requirements at Lafarge’s cement factory in Ewekoro. There are plans to replicate the technology in all its plants across the country.
Source: The Nation