ENERGY EFFICIENCY AND RENEWABLE ENERGY IN NIGERIA – The part we all have to play
Energy efficiency plays a pivotal role in the mitigation of climate change in any environment. In Nigeria, up to half of the energy currently consumed can be saved in the country if energy is efficiently utilized. The major challenge has been that energy policy in Nigeria has undermined the importance and gains of energy efficiency to the environment and economic growth.
Nigeria is relatively endowed with abundant fossil fuels and other renewable energy sources, the energy situation in the country is yet to be structured and managed in such a way as to ensure sustainable energy development. As a nation that has limited technological capacity but sees industrialization as constituting a crucial leverage and precondition for meaningful development, Nigeria should make effort to manage her scarce energy resources judiciously.
Globally, the relationship between renewable energy and energy efficiency has become more intertwined and symbiotic, with many international organizations accepting how codependent these two concepts are. Energy efficiency means using less energy to provide the same service. For example, a compact fluorescent bulb is more efficient than a traditional incandescent bulb as it uses much less electrical energy to produce the same amount of light. Similarly, an efficient boiler takes less fuel to heat a home to a given temperature than a less efficient model.
Energy efficiency is the judicious utilization of whatever electrical power a system generates. This means using energy saving bulbs to light homes and offices, mindfully turning off appliances when they are not in use and replacing outdated energy sapping devices with their more energy conservative counterparts –Off Grid Nigeria
On the other hand, renewable energy is as yet seen as the debutante to the energy scene, they hold the best potentials for efficiency in generation for by their very definition they draw power from inexhaustible sources without producing any of the harmful after-effects that other power generating sources are encumbered with.
Even though there has been tremendous success and improvement to the generating capabilities of renewable energy technologies, they still operate at less than 40 per cent efficiency. This means that for solar energy, the sun has to keep shining for power to be made and wind has to keep blowing for wind energy to work and even at those times when they are working, the solar and wind machines are not harnessing up to 40 per cent of the output the sun and winds are giving out.
These limitations though have caused renewable energy systems to rely on energy storage components such as batteries, to augment their performance. It has also predicated the need for more efficiency in not just generation, but distribution and use of the said energy, which means energy efficiency.
ENERGY EFFICIENT MEASURES
Below are the following areas where energy efficiency practices can be implemented;
Operations and maintenance
- Conduct a nighttime audit to find out what’s on afterhours that shouldn’t be.
- Improve operations and maintenance practices by regularly checking and maintaining equipment to ensure it’s functioning efficiently.
- Perform monthly maintenance of heating and cooling equipment to guarantee efficient operation throughout the year.
- Review and emphasize the financial and environmental results of a preventative maintenance program for major systems and components.
- Visually inspect insulation on all piping, ducting and equipment for damage (tears, compression, stains, etc.).
- Turn off lights when not in use or when natural daylight is sufficient. This can reduce lighting expenses by 10 to 40 percent.
- Maximize daylighting. After all, sunlight is free! Open or close blinds to make the best use of natural daylight and take advantage of natural daylight sources to reduce lighting during daytime hours.
- Use task lighting where feasible.
- Enable the power management function on office computers, which automatically puts monitors to sleep when not in use. To enable this function, visit energystar.gov/powermanagement.
- Activate sleep settings on all printers, copiers, fax machines, scanners, and multifunction devises so that they automatically enter a low-powered sleep mode when inactive. Use the owner’s manual to make the setting changes yourself, or ask your service vendor to ensure your machines are configured to take full advantage of these features.
Heating and cooling
- Set back the thermostat in the evenings and other times when the building isn’t occupied.
- Regularly change or clean HVAC filters every month during peak cooling or heating season. Dirty filters cost more to use, overwork the equipment, and result in lower indoor air quality.
- Adjust thermostats for seasonal changes.
- Use shades and blinds to control direct sun through windows in both dry and wet season to prevent or encourage heat gain.
- Calibrate thermostats to ensure that their ambient temperature readings are correct.
- Make sure that areas in front of vents are clear of furniture and paper. As much as 25 percent more energy is required to distribute air if your vents are blocked.
- Shorten the preventive maintenance intervals for replacing air handler filters. These keep air clean and prevent equipment from working harder to force air through dirty filters.
- Clean the evaporator and condenser coils on heat pumps, air-conditioners, or chillers. Dirty coils inhibit heat transfer; keeping coils clean saves energy.
- Repair leaks and adjust pressure in compressed air systems.
- Repair steam trap leaks; replace malfunctioning steam traps.
- Repair damaged insulation and replace missing insulation with thicknesses calculated for the operating and ambient conditions of the mechanical system.
- Keep exterior doors closed while running your HVAC. It sounds simple, but it will help avoid wasteful loss of heated or cooled air!
Communication and education
- Educate employees and building occupants about how their behaviors affect energy use. ENERGY STAR has plenty of materials to help in the communications toolkit.
- Ensure that team members from every department are trained in the importance of energy management and basic energy-saving practices. Hold staff meetings on energy use, costs, objectives, and employee responsibilities.
- Reward energy-efficient behaviors and habits to engage employees in helping your organization save energy. For example, you might host a competition and throw an ice cream social for the building or office that achieves the greatest improvement in energy performance.
- Excepts for this content was taken from the 2017 report on Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency in Developing Countries by United Nations Environment Programme. UN Environment promotes environmentally sound practices globally and in its own activities.
- Off grid Nigeria – Nexus between Energy efficiency and Renewable Energy
- Energy Star
- Energy Efficiency and Conservation Measures: Tools for Sustainable Energy Development in Nigeria -OYEDEPO, Sunday Olayinka