According to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Nigeria has signed a deal with Russia to build two Nuclear Power Plants in Nigeria. The two countries signed an intergovernmental nuclear co-operation agreement in 2009. The electricity crisis in Nigeria has lingered on for too long, as the World Bank reported that by 2014, only 57.7% of Nigerians had access to electricity. A source from Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission (NAEC) reportedly told BBC that one will be built in the South and the other in the central area. I wonder where?
Before I explain what renewable energy is and its importance for us as a country, it is necessary we know what happened in Chernobyl.
In April 26th 1986, a nuclear power plant in Ukraine formerly part of the Soviet Union exploded as a result of a flaw in the design of the reactor and the operations carried out by inadequately trained personnel. Initially, only two people died as a result, which didn’t raise as much dust, until several people began to die weeks after due to various types of illnesses.
Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) says there were over 7000 recorded cases of thyroid cancer and other diseases, and about 200,000 people had to be relocated as a result of the radiation. Mutation of animals, plant and humans was a major effect of the radiation that occurred as a result of the Chernobyl disaster.
Fukushima nuclear disaster is another major nuclear explosion that cost Japan billions of dollars. Although this explosion was as a result of the earthquake, it still does not change the fact that it cost lives and properties. It is not my place to say what’s best for Nigeria at the moment, as we all suffer from the lack of electricity, but I definitely know what the future holds for Nigeria. Renewable energy is that future.
Renewable energy is from an energy resource that is replaced rapidly by a natural process, such as power generated from the sun or from the wind (Science Daily, 2017).
Solar, wind, biomass (vegetation), geothermal and hydropower are a few of the sources of renewable energy while fossil fuels such as petroleum, coal and propane are forms of non-renewable energy. The similarity between the two forms of energy is that they both produce energy and electricity. The difference is that one is finite and the other infinite. Non-renewable energy is finite as they can run out one day, but renewable energy is infinite because it cannot be replaced and is commonly referred to as sustainable energy or green energy.
Biomass energy is the use of wood and vegetation to produce energy. As long as trees are planted for every tree cut down, it is a good source of energy. Wind energy involves the use of wind turbines to produce energy. This occurs when the wind enables the blades of the turbine which is attached to a generator to shift thereby causing generation of energy. One wind turbine can power up to 300 homes. In 2013, about 7.9% of UK’s electricity was from wind turbines, which was enough to power up to 6.8 million homes (Cambridge Econometrics, 2015).
Hydropower is a source of renewable energy that does not release Greenhouse gases and cause global warming. It requires the storing up of water in a dam to generate electricity, which requires rivers close by to enable water flow all year round.
Geothermal energy is when pipes are dug deep into the earth in order to get steam from the rock deeps (magma), then the steam is used to turn the turbines and a generator converts the energy from the turbines to produce electricity. This form of energy is renewable because the water is replaced by rainfall and heat is continuously generated in the earth.
Solar energy is probably the most popular of all the sources of renewable energy because it is generated from the sun. Solar which is the Latin word for sun is a powerful source of energy and has been in use for a long time. Because of change in weather, the sun does not shine every time and that is why solar panels and cells are needed for solar energy to fully function.
There are other forms of renewable energy that are still in the nascent stages such as wave energy, marine (ocean) energy and so on.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Renewable Energy
|1||It is sustainable; will never run out||Difficult to generate the quantity of electricity as produced by fossil fuels|
|2||Requires less maintenance||Reduced amount in energy|
|3||Reduced cost of operations||Inconsistent and unpredictable|
|4||Little or no waste product||Requires large capital|
|5||Minimal impact on the environment||Low reliability of electricity supply|
|6||Readily available natural resources|
Environmentalist are not oblivious to the disadvantages of renewable energy, but the advantages definitely outweigh the disadvantages for us all. Non-renewable energy causes emission of Greenhouse gases which leads to a depletion of the ozone layer and global warming, ultimately causing climate change and health decline. It is not a debate whether or not Nigeria should go ahead in the construction of nuclear power plant as it is already in motion. This is only a wake-up call that the future for Nigeria is renewable energy.
In Nigeria, we are blessed with a lot of natural resources and abundance of nature: rainfall, wind, vegetation and so much more. It should only come naturally to us to use these resources to improve the standard of living in Nigeria and across Africa.