Two of the biggest problems facing Nigeria are power outages and waste accumulation. However, the recent launch of an organic waste power-generating plant by the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) has set the path for solving these problems. The power plant is expected to generate power for the entire university and neighboring communities.
This is the first time a Nigerian university is innovating to solve the erratic power supply in the country. The 100kVA (kilo-volt-ampere) refuse-derived fuel (RDF) plant was an initiative of the institution’s former vice-chancellor, Prof. Chinedu Nebo during his tenure as the nation’s Minister of Power. Consequently, organic waste materials that can feed the power plant include wood chips, corn husks, and so on.
Reactions trailing the inauguration of the power plant
University of Nigeria, Nsukka is the country’s first indigenous university. It was all joy and shower of praises on the institution and the vice-chancellor during the inauguration of the power plant. The University’s vice chancellor, Prof Benjamin Ozumba gleaming with smile called it another feather to the institution’s cap.
“I am happy that under my watch the university has witnessed innovations and transformation. Today another feather has been added to the cap of my administration. This is the first of its kind in the country—using waste to generate electricity. By the time more of these plants are established, covering every part of the university, millions of naira will be saved every month as we will no longer pay monthly bills to the power company.”
Brains behind the University of Nigeria, Nsukka’s organic power plant
Nigeria generates about 542.5 million tons of organic wastes every year. This has the potential of yielding around 25.53 billion m3 of biogas. Consequently, this can create 169,541.66 MW of electricity. For a country that is energy deficient, this means a lot.
Japan-trained Prof. Emenike Ejiogu led a team of researchers to bring this project to reality. The professor of engineering has a vast knowledge of electric power devices and systems as well as emerging energy systems like fuel-cell, solar, and wind energy. Consequently, Professor Ejiogu thanked the University for providing the fund for the project.
“The aim is to enable the institution to generate its own electricity with organic waste serving as fuel. Our university’s [University of Nigeria, Nsukka] power demand now is 3 megawatts. So, with 12 250kVA of RDF plants, we will meet the electricity supply needs of the university.”
Other prospects of the organic power plant
Besides the immediate gain of the organic power plant to the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, the power plant also has the potential to fight noise pollution and unemployment in the country. The country has recorded unprecedented inflation rates since descending into recession in 2016. However, the worse inflation figures were between Q3 2017 and Q3 2018. The figure rose from 18.8% to 23.1% in this period.
Prof. Ejiogu is optimistic that the new power initiative will also help to curb unemployment in the country. According to the professor, companies and individuals have declared interest in the project. Furthermore, Prof. Ejiogu highlighted the benefits of the organic plant over solar power.
“It is cheaper and can carry more currents than solar energy installation. With an RDF plant in your house or office, it will power your air conditioners, deep freezers, pressing iron and other appliances.”