By Adewale Sanyaolu
A recent report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) has revealed that more than 95 percent of those who live in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia don’t have access to electricity.
A further breakdown of the figure shows that of the 95 per cent, sub-Saharan Africa accounts for 600 million people living in the dark.
But, while India has taking the statistics as a wake-up call to reverse the negative trend by placing emphasis on renewable energy, Nigeria on the other hand, has remained fixated to its grid system which is unable to wheel out power generated from its hydro and gas-fired power plants.
At a time Nigeria is battling with its epileptic power supply, global energy giant, Shell had in December last year, launched the first Africa’s human and solar powered football pitch at the Federal College of Education, Akoka, Lagos. The pitch was one of the latest initiatives from Shell’s #makethefuture programme, which puts bright energy ideas into action to bring benefits to local communities around the world, coming after the first world powered community football pitch in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Again, two weeks ago, Shell equally launched another energy intervention-#makethefuture campaign in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to bring access to energy to people in that country.
The company explained that our current access to energy is neither enough to satisfy our growing energy needs, nor is it sustainable, adding that the ways in which it is being provided now contribute to climate change,as well as costing the planet valuable resources.
The intervention of Shell to generate alternative sources of energy is captured under its social intervention scheme- Shell livewire, to generate electricity not linked to the already weak grid system but a stand-alone concept.
Though the company is actively involved in oil and gas exploration and product, its activities, according to Independent Energy Watch Initiative, explained were too distant apart from unconventional power generation, particularly in terms of technology, let alone venturing into remote-generated electricity.
‘‘Arguably, Shell could pride itself with Afam Power Plant, which it built with a start-up production of over 400 megawatts to the grid via the open cycle phase, but later attained a generation capacity of 624 megawatts through the full combined-cycle phase. But its adventure into kinetic football pitch approach to light up environment was undermined, especially because of its strange terrain,’’.
Innovative way to tackle Nigeria’s power crisis
Shell’s approach could help Nigeria to resolve its energy crisis, as the Minister of Power, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, promised that the Federal Government would seek alternatives sources of energy to tackle gas challenges, especially with the bombing of gas pipeline in the Niger Delta.
The Independent Energy Watch Initiative explained that when Shell came up with its kinetic energy, not many took the global oil giant seriously.
Arguably, Shell could pride itself with Afam Power Plant, which it built with a start-up production of over 400 megawatts to the grid via the open cycle phase, but later attained a generation capacity of 624 megawatts through the full combined-cycle phase. But its adventure into kinetic football pitch approach to light up environment was undermined, especially because of its strange terrain. .
Yet, Shell, in its unusual quest for research, maintained that the effort could worth its while to generate electricity through engagement in sport activities in the pitch, even though it was an unprecedented, which could result in huge loss of investment, if not successful.
Shell’s Executive Vice President Innovation and Research and Development, Mr. Yuri Sebregts, who is also the company’s Chief Technology Officer, said: “Energy is vital to our daily lives. It helps us produce food, fuel transport and power communication channels across the world. As global population rises, more people are moving out of poverty and gaining access to energy.
“At Shell, we use human ingenuity, innovation and technology to unlock the energy our customers need to power their lives in the years ahead while aiming to limit our impact on the environment.
We believe that human ingenuity and technology hold the key to deliver sustainable energy needed today and in the future. We have been a technology pioneer for over 100 years. Bright ideas from our people and original thinkers outside our company have resulted in some groundbreaking innovations.”
Generating electricity from coffee, cooking oil
The recent #makingthefuture launch in Brazil has been able to turn gravity into light, coffee into energy, cooking oil into fuel, footsteps and roofs into power sources and roadside turbulence into electricity.
The initiative which is under Shell’s #Makethefuture campaign seeks to highlight the need for greater collaboration to create more and cleaner energy, by bringing to life innovations from six smart energy start ups.
Shell posited that “working together, we are turning gravity into light, coffee into energy, cooking oil into fuel, footsteps and roofs into power sources and roadside turbulence into electricity. Communities in Brazil, Kenya, China, the USA and the UK will experience, first hand, the benefits of these new sources of energy. And we will all see how a different future is possible, a future that is in our hands to create.”
‘‘Our world strives for socio-economic progress. We want to improve lives, our communities and our countries, and we are constantly developing new technologies and methods to do so. But we thereby face a global problem: the more energy we reach for a brighter future, the more energy we consume along the way.
That is why we launched our #makethe future campaign, our call for collaboration to create smart solutions that will generate more and cleaner energy across the world,” Shell said.
And to create global acceptability for the campaign, Nigeria’s music idol, representing Africa, Yemi Alade joined other 5 celebrities across the globe at the launch in Brazil.
Alade, in a conference telephone call had told Daily Sun that she was excited at the various innovations aimed at generating energy without impacting on the environment, saying energy is what affects everyone across the globe.
She explained that she is happy bringing back the gravity light imitative to Nigeria and by extension Africa because energy generation is still a major issue in Nigeria, and now realizing that power could be generated by just using some intangibles within the environment gives her great joy.
A challenge to Nigerian innovators
For Nigeria with a population of over 170 million people,and generating less than 5,000 mega watts,the time is now for innovators to key into the opportunities that are abound under the #makethefuture inititiave,where innovations under energy solutions can be funded.
Till date, no Nigerian has been able to come up with an innovation to solve our energy crisis.The innovations recorded are from outside the continent.
Country Chair of Shell Companies in Nigeria (SCiN), Mr. Osagie Okunbor, who is also Managing Director of Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited (SPDC), had stated: “The tile device at Akoka is not just another football pitch. It is a powerful statement on the kind of energy ideas that Shell and SPDC have been promoting in Nigeria.
“We are confident that Nigerian youths will take advantage of our LiveWIRE programme and launch bright energy ideas that will help to better the lives of millions of Nigerians,” he stressed.
Shell LiveWIRE is a social investment programme that aims to help young Nigerians explore the option of starting their own business as a real and viable career option.
It provides support, access to training, guidance, and business mentorship to young entrepreneurs and potential entrepreneurs between the ages of 18 and 35.
The programme operates mainly in the Niger Delta region and aims to inspire, encourage and support young people aged 18-35 to start up their own businesses through the provision of finance and training for young entrepreneurs.
Access to electricity
According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), an estimated 1.2 billion people – 17 percent of the global population – did not have access to electricity in 2013, 84 million fewer than in the previous year. Many more suffer from supply that is of poor quality. More than 95 percent of those living without electricity are in countries in sub-Saharan Africa and developing Asia, and they are predominantly in rural areas (around 80 percent of the world total). While still far from complete, progress in providing electrification in urban areas has outpaced that in rural areas two to one since 2000.
According to The Nigerian Association of Energy Economists, NAEE, despite statistics indicating that 45 percent of the country’s population is currently connected to the national grid, regular supply is still restricted to just about 25 percent of the population.
This is coming as the International Finance Corporation, IFC, said that constant regular power supply will ensure overall prosperity and development for Nigeria. Most of the people with access to electricity are found within the urban areas of the country, thus leaving citizens in the rural areas with less access to electricity supply.
NAEE therefore raised concern on economic redundancy in these parts of the country, adding that despite the importance of energy to economic development, large proportions of Nigerians still lack access to electricity.
The National President, NAEE, Mr. Wumi Iledare, had stated at the 2015 World Energy Day, that energy contributed greatly to the transformation of the world and provided comfort to the human race.
He, however, noted that the association was concerned that majority of Nigerians do not have access to energy, stressing that for those with some form of access, availability and quality still remain major issues to contend with.
“Nigeria has vast and varied energy resources, both renewable and non-renewable resources. The nation is also the largest economy in Africa with a GDP (gross domestic product) of about $531.8 billion, according to the World Bank, yet the nation still faces serious energy poverty issues, with energy supply falling short of energy demand. “It is estimated that the nation has as much as 90 percent deficiency in electricity supply while in off-grid areas where some 50 percent of Nigerians live, access to electricity is practically zero.”
Even in on-grid areas, power outages are still a recurrent theme and this has continued to pose serious constraints to economic development.
“There is obvious inequity in energy access based on levels of income, and location. Access is nearly 100 percent in developed countries, compared to 60 percent in the developing countries.
According to the NAEE President, some of the factors for this pitiable state of access to energy are endemic corruption, poor assets maintenance, inadequate gas supply to thermal generation plants, transmission infrastructure, and inconsistent government policies.