In 1896, the first electricity was produced by colonial administration towards socio-economic improvement in the then Niger Area. Thirty-three years later, the defunct Nigeria Electricity Supply Company was set up –operating a hydroelectric power station. Structural and organisational reformations in 1951 resulted to the establishment of the defunct Electricity Corporation of Nigeria. Building of 132KV line in 1962, which link Ijora power station in Lagos to Ibadan station was the first major achievement of the ECN. Besides, various infrastructure and capacity building programmes were executed. Post-independence era, however, portended a number of challenges due to socio-economic growth and rapid urbanization that overstressed the existing facilities. The good old day stories of accessing electricity at will has changed to intermittent power supply. Recent estimate shows that 95 million of about 170 million Nigerians are without access to electricity.
Various projections are being made by experts in the industry about demand by and supply of electricity to domestic and industrial users. To keep lights on, Nigeria is expected to have between 7,000 and 10,000 megawatts, which must be increased to 35,000 megawatts by 2020 towards sustainable consumption. Based on 10% high GDP growth, electricity analysts also expect Nigeria to generate 54,275 MW/h by 2020 while demand will stood at 58, 820 MW/h. Attainment of these figures seem unrealizable considering continuous interruption of key infrastructure in the industry. Investigation has shown that on June 18th, 2016 average energy sent out by the power generation companies was 1,826 MW/h against 1,954 MW/h distributed on June 17th, 2016.
These statistics show that coal, crude oil, natural gas and hydro sources of electricity are failing in the country. There is a need to exploit other alternatives which have been found useful and sustainable in developed countries. From north to south and east to west, Nigeria is blessed with about 80 per cent arable land which had produced crops such as cashew nuts, coconut, coffee, corn, cotton, peanuts, rice, sugarcane and generated waste that could be converted into various forms of power –electricity. Recent statistics indicate that Nigeria is among the world’s largest producers of cashew nuts, kolanuts, groundnuts, corn and rice. These have been discovered to generate highest amount of waste for energy supply for production, processing and domestic activities, especially in rural areas. Globally, about 600 million tons of rice husk is generated annually. In Ibadan, agricultural wastes account for about 80 percent of wastes. Agricultural biomass waste converted to energy can sufficiently provide renewable electricity to Nigerians and industries. This becomes necessary as the country has less than 4 years to attain sustainable, adequate, qualitative, reliable and affordable power strategic objective of Vision 2020.
Since government’s position on power generation and distribution remains private sector-led with the provision of necessary and appropriate institutional support, there is a lot of opportunities in agricultural waste conversion to electricity. Researches have documented that power plants based on baled agricultural residues are efficient and cost-effective energy generators. The energy can be generated through direct combustion technology and converted through thermochemical. Nigeria needs people with entrepreneurial spirits to establish small and medium power plants for the identified wastes most importantly in rural areas. This is essential for the country’s future existence.
Rapid urbanization and emergent of new businesses are some of the key drivers of electricity consumption. Lagos state has the annual consumption. Globally, waste-to-energy sector is forecasted to increase to $29.2 billion by 2022 from its $6.2 billion garnered in 2012. Establishing waste power plants is an investment in inclusive business and inclusive profits generation from millions of Nigerians who live on less than $2 per day but estimated to have significant combined purchasing power. Evidently, 95% of electricity generated in Nigeria is consumed at domestic level with the spending between N1, 000 and N10, 000 monthly on electricity. Aspiring entrepreneurs can adapt Fibrowatt LCC, a Pennsylvania developer, builder and operator of electrical power plants fueled by poultry litter and other agricultural biomass, strategies and techniques which helped in combusting 8 million tons of agricultural biomass and produced over 4 million megawatt-hours within 20 years.