Exploring the potential of wind energy in Nigeria

Have you ever been out on a windy day? Imagine converting all that wind to useful energy.

Power supply in Nigeria is close to 6,000 megawatts (MW); 60% of households are not on the electric grid; most them in the rural areas. According to Model for Energy Supply Strategy Alternatives and their General Environmental Impacts (MESSAGE), a sufficient supply of 40,000 megawatts (MW) is expected to meet the demand for electricity in Nigerian households.

Wind is becoming an important source of generating power in most developed countries. For instance, China generates close to 91,000 MW from wind power. In 2013, wind power generated 61,000 MW in the United States. Wind power is worth exploring because the electricity it generates is cleaner, cheaper and more efficient. A populous nation like Nigeria should not ignore such a resource. A collection of wind turbines for generating power is called a wind farm. Electricity is produced when kinetic energy of wind is converted to electric current by propeller blades driving a turbine.

According to the National Metrological map, everywhere in Nigeria is windy but some areas are windier than others. The North has 6m/s of wind potential while the South ranges between 4m/s to 2.5m/s. Katsina is the only state that has taken the lead in setting up a wind project. The wind farm project under construction in Rimi Local government is supported by the Federal government and expected to generate approximately 10MW of electricity.

We all know it’s often impossible to remove one inconvenience without another emerging. One limitation is that unlike solar energy, electricity produced from wind can’t be stored and is not free of interruptions. Opposition to wind projects usually come from local farmers who may feel threatened by an ‘encroachment’ on their land. However, wind farm projects can provide a source of income for farmers to receive rent for allowing turbines on their farmland.

Public understanding can be improved if we raise green awareness and levels of environmental consciousness. We need to exploit our natural resources and utilize them efficiently if we are going to sort out the inadequacy of power supply in Nigeria. Renewable energy such as wind power is worth exploring because the exploitation and use of hydrocarbons take a significant turmoil on the environment.

Investment in wind trade can create a substantial local market for manufacturing companies. Government should ensure an investor friendly environment to encourage entrepreneurs who are interested in starting up medium-scale enterprises in wind farms.

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