Sugar industry can tackle Nigeria’s energy deficit – Bamidele

What is the potential for electricity generation in Nigeria’s sugar industry?

The world is constantly exploring options for stimulating economic growth and development that rely to a large extent on the extent of development in the energy sector.

With climate change, this process has become more compelling with the dynamisms introduced that require the discovery and even more discoveries of clean energy.

As you all know, this gave birth to global initiatives such as the Paris Agreement, Sustainable Energy for All (SE4All), the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the circular, etc. Some of the clean energy sources, as you know, are solar, biomass, small hydro, and wind.

The goal is to move away from fossil fuel-based energy sources and adopt options that do not contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. It has been proven that one of the key elements of a dynamic and prosperous economy is an adequate energy supply. Without it, nations will suffer from an industrialization deficit.

In Nigeria today, around 85 million people do not have access to grid electricity, which is around 43% of the Nigerian population. This practically limits the economic potential of the country but one thing is certain; there are options to resolve this national problem. What we need is the collective will to do it.

The sugar industry also offers an option to help solve the problem of energy deficit in Nigeria. This has been proven in countries like Thailand and India. We have to use what we have to get what we want.

What is the key role of UNIDO in this regard?

The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) has implemented a project called “Mini-grids based on renewable energy (biomass) to increase rural electrification” with the aim of promoting renewable energy as an alternative to diesel power generation systems.

This is to help reduce and avoid GHG greenhouse gas emissions from the energy sector in Nigeria. The project, through its four components, should develop a policy and a conducive market environment, in particular by strengthening financial facilities, and build capacities to reproduce the RE mini-grids to increase rural electrification and productive uses in the region. Nigeria.

This project is funded by the Global Environment Facility. As part of this project, UNIDO collaborated with the National Sugar Development Council (NSDC) and the Energy Commission of Nigeria (ECN) to conduct assessments on the sugar industry’s bioenergy and biofuels. for clean cooking.

It is important for me to mention that UNIDO is a specialized agency of the United Nations that promotes inclusive and sustainable industrialization in developing countries and economies in transition. UNIDO’s activities are designed to develop green industries that use resources efficiently and protect the natural environment and human health.

Through its activities, UNIDO strives to improve competitiveness and access to markets, while improving their environmental performance. We are currently implementing the Nigeria Country Program which runs from 2018 to 2022 and which includes renewable energy development and environmental management as two stand-alone components out of its nine components. UNIDO is well placed to help countries identify and address emerging energy and environmental issues and we will continue to do so in Nigeria with the support of all of you.

What are your expectations on the Assessment of Bioenergy and Biofuel Potentials in the sugar industry?

Ultimately, we expect stakeholders to have a clear understanding of the potentials that exist in the sugar industry in Nigeria.

And as I pointed out earlier, UNIDO is doing its best to contribute to this work in Nigeria, working with various stakeholders from the private and public sectors.

The ultimate goal is to have a win-win situation. We are currently in a situation where there are untapped resources in the sugar industry and as far as the sugar industry is concerned with making sugar and meeting its demands in the Nigerian economy, we want to highlight the importance of the energy that can be produced in this sector and that can contribute to the total energy supply of the country.

And you know, as a United Nations agency, we are working to promote renewable energies, so, I want to see how we can increase the proportion of renewable energies in the total energy mix.

We want to determine the capacity that we have that can be generated by the sugar industry.

Are there any pilot projects already?

We have done studies in Ogun and Ondo states that show we can generate over 27 megawatts from sawdust and other wood waste. will add to everything we do.

Development partners and stakeholders will take ownership of the results of this study so that it does not just end at today’s workshop, so if you have estimated capacity in the sugar industry in Nigeria, it will be very, very important to go further in the movement to really develop biomass energy in this sector for Nigerian use.

Do you foresee a challenge in the technology needed to move the project forward?

Yes, our study will say something about it. There is no challenge with technology because you should know that we are not reinventing a wheel anywhere.

As I mentioned, there are success stories from other parts of the world, therefore, our case is not the first case of biomass energy production in the sugar industry in the world.

Thailand has done a lot of that, India has done a lot of that, so the technologies that work in those countries are going to work in Nigeria as well.

We do not work in isolation. You should know that the UN is not a parallel government, what the UN does is support the Nigerian government and the way it works is that if you look at the makeup of the stakeholders or the participants in this workshop , we have brought people from all walks of the energy sector to Nigeria. We have NERC, we have NMPC. we have the Nigeria Energy Commission, we have science and technology and innovation, we have industry, trade and investment, we have stakeholders. The idea is therefore to open everyone’s eyes to the potential that exists in the sugar industry.

How do you plan to explore the opportunities in the industry?

As you know, the role of UNIDO in the energy sector is not to generate electricity, we are not working to shed light on the poverty of the people but we want to see how we can develop energy and link energy to the productive use of businesses and to that extent, this project in which we are doing this workshop today is focused on many grades.

We want to work on the production of this biomass energy to support rural communities and their businesses and productive enterprises, therefore we would do so in collaboration with various entities and organizations that have been entrusted with the mandate of the government, including the DisCos that have been mentioned so that by ultimately the rural and economic sector in Nigeria can be developed together.

If I may ask, do you have a timeline for completing this initiative?

We have deadlines; this particular project will end in December of this year, so all we can do on this project is complete this study.

But the stakeholders in the country and UNIDO are not particularly related to this project, their existence continues after this year, so we will continue to be in the country and continue to work with the government of Nigeria and the idea as I said is that we will be able to go further maybe in another phase of this project or a different project on renewable energies that can build on the results of this study for which we are doing this workshop today.

Also, don’t forget that I mentioned that we are implementing a country program that will end in 2022, but we have got the approval of the board, which means that we will continue to work in the renewable energy space in Nigeria even beyond 2022.

You said GF is funding this, so how much is it costing you?

The GF’s Global Environment Facility is providing funding for this project. I can’t say the exact amount but the total GF project funds is over two million dollars even though this is the last round of what we are doing in the project, supporting the 1.5 megawatts in Ebonyi state, we did studies in Ogun and Ondo states generated over 2.7 megawatts of electricity from sawdust and wood waste.

We have worked with the regulator, NERC on feed tariffs in the past on this project and we have done a lot of capacity building in the country, done study tours to Thailand, India and the rest of the world. a number of places to open the eyes of stakeholders to the potentials that exist in this particular sector and what other countries have benefited in this way.

We have also worked on the political component and on strengthening private sector investment in the renewable energy space in Nigeria.

As you know, the simple law of supply and demand, Nigeria is running out of energy. So we encourage the private sector to come into this sector and invest. But it is not that easy because there are issues in the political arena that we have engaged the government and other stakeholders on, so that we can unblock the bottlenecks that exist and create a space for the private sector to come and invest and.

Rachel J. Bradford