Patrick A. Ogbe
Generally, a human being has a lot of needs. From time immemorial however, the three basic needs of man has always been food, shelter, and clothing. In contemporary times, however, man`s other needs have expanded. Such needs include health care, transportation, communication, education and etcetera.
Among all these nascent needs of mankind; there is one particular need, vital and pivotal as it is, that is often relegated to the background. This need is electricity. Constant, adequate electricity supply to our homes, offices, hospitals, business centres, and companies, remains forever a good helper to man. Sadly, whenever it is absent, or whenever citizens and residents are deprived the privilege of enjoying the modern amenity; many, many things will just not function well.
Sadly, at a time when many cities, and towns, in developed countries have tackled their inadequate electricity supply problems, Nigeria, as an African nation, is still battling with problems of perennial, inadequate electricity supply that is frighteningly, ubiquitous. Virtually all the geo-political zones in the country have one sad tale or the other to tell, concerning disappointing, regular power outages, long absence of electricity supply, and government’s electricity structures that are not functioning.
From time past, from decade to decade, in Nigeria, electricity supply to citizens of the country have always remained erratic. From the time when Nigeria`s electricity regulatory body was E.C.N (Electricity Council of Nigeria), to when it became N.E.P.A. (National Electric Power Authority), and then P.H.C.N. (Power Holding Company of Nigeria), till the present arrangement, whereby electricity supply in the country is handled by regional E.D.C`s (Electricity Distribution Companies); electricity supply to citizens and indeed many residents in the country have remained unsteady.
At a particular point in time, then Minister of Power, Works, and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, stated that up to 90million Nigerians lack adequate electricity supply. On account of this many Nigerians rely on generators for their energy needs. The lingering problem of inadequate electricity supply to all the regions of this great country leaves no one in doubt of the truth: Nigeria requires redemption in the electricity and power sector. And such redemption must dawn speedily and quickly before things go wrong.
In present day Nigeria, one would not be telling a lie, if one were to state that generator sets are owned by citizens in this country in virtually every neighbourhood. Wherever you find yourself in Nigeria you will see generators at every corner.
Generators come in when there is no electricity. We must however come to terms with the fact that generators have their peculiar disadvantages
This is where solar energy comes in as a viable option. Basically, the major source of solar energy is the sun. The sun is a sphere of intensely hot gaseous matter. In its interior, a continuous fusion process occurs in which hydrogen nuclei combine to form helium nuclei. The mass of the helium is less than that of the hydrogen, so some mass is always converted to energy. This energy is radiated out from the surface of the sun and an extremely small fraction of it is intercepted by the earth.
Solar energy also has a peculiar attribute. It is usually absorbed, scattered and reflected by the atmosphere. It reaches the ground as diffuse radiation, which comes from many directions, or as beam radiation, which comes from the direction of the sun. It is such a radiation, such a heat, and such a peculiar hotness which emanates from a bright, hot, shining sun that using horizontal, or square panels and indoor storage units plus battery inverters, man has successfully converted to useful, helpful electricity, or helpful power source.
Nowadays, it is not an uncommon sight to observe solar energy panels dotting roof tops, everywhere. Talk of residential places of abodes; business centres, street light-stands, warehouses and shops, and all such similar places: solar panels, nowadays-are attached to sections of such buildings. The reason for the emergence, and subsequent ubiquity of such solar panels, is because people are seeking for viable substitutes. Solar energy, apparently, has its constraints and limitations. Solar energy has, as its main source, the sun.
Thus, on any day when for one reason or the other, the sun is not shining brightly, or intensely; you can be sure that the solar energy-system-will be at a low ebb. Or rather, its performance will be mild. For instance, during rainy seasons whenever it rains, especially whenever it rains heavily and the usual bright hot sun is absent; tapping into solar energy system, suffers little setbacks. This is because the source of the solar energy, the sun, is recording low performance because of the wet weather. This low performance status of most or all solar energy system is also the case, whenever it snows, especially in Europe.
Another notable setback of solar energy is its limitation in powering certain household appliances with high voltage requirements. On account of the solar energy, storage-unit, capacity; there are some high voltage home appliances and electrical appliances that the solar energy, storage unit, cannot cope with.
Not minding the above mentioned constraints, solar energy remains a viable alternative to electricity supply. Prime, among the advantages of solar energy which makes us easily want to adopt are these: solar energy is noiseless, whenever rendering service.
The source of the solar energy, the sun, is always there for us to tap into. On a daily basis, week in, week out, month after month, year after year, decades without end; the sun is always there to empower any solar energy panel unit that is put in place.
Then again, another observable advantage of solar energy is this: the indoor unit or device enables its users to make use of captured or stored energy at night even when the sun has retired, and has set, and is no longer shining. Constant, efficient, functional electricity, in any city, or town, or community, or nation, has no 100% replacement. No any other source of energy, can empower machineries, household appliances, gadgets, and supply light-massively-like an electricity supply that is constant, and steady.
However, in Nigeria, where electricity supply has become erratic, we must surely search for a viable alternative. Since it is not all of us that want to languish in darkness and suffer deprivation of power to make our household electrical appliances functional, solar energy is the best option.
Ogbe writes via [email protected]