Biomass as a source of power generation in Nigeria has been more talk than action, unlike its other renewable energy counterparts such as solar or wind energy. Despite biomass being the only baseload source of renewable energy, meaning it can produce constant power without depending on the weather or daylight, it is still overlooked and underinvested in.
Nigeria has not joined the league of countries that have mastered the science of properly utilizing this efficient and economical form of renewable energy.
Biomass is an organic source of renewable energy, derived from organic materials from plants, animals, and humans. All organic materials contain stored energy from the sun and there are three basic types of biomass technology; combustion, gasification and anaerobic digestion.
In combustion technology, plants in their simplest form store heat from the sun and burned to generate heat or electricity. In gasification and anaerobic digestion, however, plants produce flammable gas (syngas and biogas) from their different processes of breaking down biomass.
Biogas is the more popular of the two. Biogas can be produced from raw materials such as agricultural waste, manure, municipal waste, plant material, sewage, green waste or food waste.
Biogas is a renewable energy source. These gases can be used as an alternative to fossil fuel (diesel) for static engines or generators. Aniche Phil-Ebosie, executive director, Eongratis (bioenergy) Limited, and Segun Adaju, chief executive officer, Consistent Energy, told business a.m. in separate interviews that the industry remains largely informal in Nigeria, attributing a number of reasons for the slow adoption of biomass in the country.
According to Phil-Ebosie, cost and lack of adequate information still remain the most important factors hindering the development of this renewable energy source, because biomass equipment and technology are very expensive and have to be imported, adding that since biomass energy is still largely unknown in the country, most investors, especially local ones don’t understand the need for such expensive technology.
They don’t understand how energy (cooking gas, electricity) can be generated from ‘rubbish’. “Most banks don’t understand the technology so it’s near impossible to get funding from them,” he said.
Also, ignorance on the part of average Nigerians is another major hindrance to the development of the industry as most Nigerians are not privy to information on how their waste can create value for them. “People don’t even know what is possible and the great value their waste can provide them.
So instead of spending money to evacuate this waste, it can be used to save money from fossil fuel cost,” he said.
However, to mitigate this problem, awareness needs to be raised in form of seminars, leaflets, T.V programmes, social media promotions and so on.
People need to be educated on the huge benefits of participating in and supporting the biomass industry in Nigeria because biomass could be generating 7.5 percent of the world’s electricity by 2050, according to International Energy Agency.