From all indications, Nigeria is not at the best of times. The most populous black nation ranks among the lowest countries in the world in terms of energy consumption at just 155 kilowatt hours per person.
This is arising from militancy activities of the rebellious Niger Delta Avengers, which has been persistently attacking the nation’s pipelines and oil facilities in the creeks and swamps of Nigeria’s oil-producing South-South, as the militants are determined to bring Nigeria to her knees as long as their demands are not met.
The collateral damage resulting from this oil and gas production disruption is that some 25 to 40 per cent of domestic gas production is also breached, leading to severe reductions in electricity generation and distribution, which has substantially reduced activity level in the industry.
While the rich use top-of-therange inverters and huge dieselpowered generators to provide uninterrupted power supply, the lower class have smaller generators that are used sparingly because of the rising cost of fuel; the poorest are stuck with kerosene, which is about N200 per litre.
“Installing the biogas plant will help reduce the pollution which would have been caused by the use of other means of electricity generation”
However, an alternative source that can be used to generate electricity, especially at a low scale, and for domestic purposes such as cooking, can be adopted by well-meaning Nigerians through a gaseous mixture generated from degraded oxygen, free solid and organic waste like animal and human wastes and other sources of biomass.
Chief Executive Officer of Avenam Links International Nigeria Limited, Mrs. Chioma Ani, explained that biogas can be produced on a very small scale to generate power, cooking gas, and larger industrial scale, where it can either be burnt in power generation devices for on-site generation for injection into the natural gas network as biomethane or for use directly as gaseous biofuel in gas engine-based captive fleets such as buses.
All interested user needs to build a biogas plant is to link it to a toilet or organic waste tank. She stated that the biogas can be used for electricity generation that can be used to meet the energy need of the plant. The excess biogas generated from the plant can be used to meet the in-house energy need.
• Only water and dung or leafy biomass material need to be collected.
• The sludge remaining after digestion is good fertiliser, increasing land productivity (and farm incomes).
• The release of methane is avoided, thus contributing to climate mitigation.
• Buying (fossil) fuel resources (e.g. kerosene, LPG, charcoal or fuel wood) is no longer needed.
Mrs Ani said, “Installing the biogas plant will help reduce the pollution which would have been caused by the use of other means of electricity generation such as; diesel generators and hydro-power (resulting in deforestation). The gas produced can be utilised as operational fuel in generating sets after it must have passed through a gas scrubber to remove unwanted particles, moisture and gases.
“This means that in the absence of oxygen, anaerobic bacteria will ferment biodegradable matter into methane, carbon dioxide, hydrogen and hydrogen sulfide, a mixture called biogas. Biogas is formed solely through the activity of bacteria. Although the process itself generates heat, additional heat is required to maintain the ideal process temperature of at least 35°C.
“The resulting green gas can subsequently be delivered to the natural gas distribution grids. In developing countries, biogas could be an interesting energy option, in particular for those countries that rely heavily on traditional biomass for their energy needs.”
For small scale application, another expert, Mr. Tobi Owoeye, explained that the use of biogas leads to smoke-free and ash-free kitchen.
“Women and their children are no longer prone to respiratory infections and also, women are spared the burden of gathering firewood when they want to cook. For environmental and health benefits, the use of biogas keeps manure and waste in a confined area and processing them in the digester reduces the amount of pollutants in the immediate environment and increases sanitation,” he said.