Apart from unemployment and lately insecurity, the greatest problem Nigeria faces today is inadequate power supply. It is a general monster that haunts every home, every Nigerian; the poor and the rich.
Every successive government makes promises towards improving power supply in the country, with huge budgets allocated to it on annual basis. Yet, power supply has remained epileptic, leaving the country’s economy more devastated and the citizenry more impoverished.
Research has, however, shown that the country’s power supply can improve with less cost if the government can harness some other sources of energy apart from water (dam). One of such sources is the wind (wind mill).
Nigeria is endowed with several energy sources such as sun (solar), water (dam), wind (wind mill) and lignite. Ironically, the government has, in its energy policies, concentrated only on water (dam) for its power (electricity) generation and this has not produced the expected results in electricity generation for the citizens.
That is why I suggest wind power as alternative source of power in Nigeria. It is renewable, clean and produces no greenhouse gas emission during operation.
Wind power, as an alternative source of power, is the conversion of wind energy into a useful form of energy such as using wind turbines to make turbines, wind mill for mechanical power, wind pump for water pumping or drainage.
Wind turbines are power system, consisting of two or three blades propelled by the wind and attached to shaft with a gear mechanics and generate sitting on top of a tower. Wind mill was dated back to over a hundred years. Technological improvements made it more powerful, robust, easier to deploy, flexible and adaptable to a lot of climatic condition. It is now referred to as wind turbines.
The wind regime in Nigeria is generally moderated in the south except in coastal areas, and strongest in the hilly regions of the north, according to Nigeria rural electrification agency. The mountainous terrains especially in the middle belts and the northern fringes of the country where prime wind conditions exist hold high potentials for exploration and development in electricity. Over dependence on water dam for power supply has led to a tremendous shortage of supply in Nigeria. No nation depends on only one or two sources of power generation no matter how abundant. That is why even in the United States and Europe with very stable and highly integrated variety of power supply system, the market for standby generators and backup UPS/batteries is still huge.
In 2008, wind power produced about 1.5% of world wide electricity usage; and is growing rapidly. Several countries have achieved relatively high levels of wind power generation, such as 19% of stationary electricity production in Denmark, 11% in Spain and Portugal, and 7% in Germany and the Republic of Ireland in 2008. As of May 2009, eighty countries around the world had started using wind power on a commercial basis.
Studies commissioned by the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology and carried out by Lay Maher International has confirmed great potentials in wind energy. It has also identified possible sites for viable wind energy project across Nigeria. The mean wind speed at a height of 10m above the ground ranges between 2.3m/s and 3.4m/s for selected sites along the coastal areas, and 3.0/s to 3.9m/s for high land areas and semi-arid regions. The rule is that the higher you go, the windiest it gets. Wind turbines are normally installed at height between 18m and 90m above the ground.
Several researches have shown that in areas with annual mean wind speeds of 3.5m/s-4.0m/s or greater, wind power system can deliver electricity or pump water at cost lower than photo voltaic, diesel, or grid extension.
Compared to fossil fuel power sources, the environmental effect of wind powers are relatively minor. Given the unsteady power supply in Nigeria and the potentials of other several sources of energy the country is endowed with, there is the need for Nigeria to diversify and integrate wind power into her power sources.
Using wind energy therefore, will not only serve as supplementary energy source needed to generate adequate power supply in the country, it has the potentials of reducing cost of generating electricity and as well providing employment opportunities for the teeming population.