By EBELE ORAKPO
Even as the Ministry of Power has been promising the nation 6,000 megawatts by December, 2009 and people are scoffing at the promise going by what is on ground right now, all hope is not lost as there are other alternatives open to government to fulfill its promise.
One of such alternatives is solar energy which, according to the chief executive officer, Arthur Energy Technology Limited, Engr. Arthur Anthony Okeika, is the energy that comes from the sun and converted via solar panels for use in homes and offices to power anything that electricity can power. He advises government to stop spending money on energy that does not work and instead, pump that money into solar energy if it is to realise its goal.
CAN solar energy power anything that electricity fromÂ Â the national grid can?
Yes, solar energy can power anything that the so-called electricity from our national grid can power. When I say everything, I mean everything.
It depends on the capacity you want. But the issue is that as of now, it is still capital-intensive because of the solar panel. It is expensive to get it because it is imported. We have four major components in solar energy system. These are solar panel, charge controller, inverter and battery. Among these, solar panel and battery are on the high side.
Like how much
In Nigeria, a watt of solar panel is about N1,000. A wattage of solar panel is equivalent to N1,000 per watt. The battery ranges from N25,000 to N65,000. For instance, a 100 amps battery costs between N25,000 and N35,000 while the 200 amps battery costs between N45,000 and N65,000.
So can you tell us how much it will cost to power an average home like a two-bedroom flat
When we talk of powering homes here, what we power are the gadgets in the house. There are some homes that have airconditioners, deep freezers and all while some homes donâ€™t have so it depends on the gadgets. So letâ€™s assume you want to power one kva of 24-hour solar system, it will cost nothing less than N1.6 million and that is on the high side.
That is why I said it is capital-intensive. When you power your house with solar energy, you have at least more than 50 years to enjoy that light without putting any money again into it. So if you check it very well, youâ€™ll see that between 10-5 years in that house, you must have recovered all the money you spent and you enjoy the rest of the years.Â But because of the state of our country now, some people will find it very difficult to afford such money and that is why it looks like solar energy is not being adopted here in our country.
What you are saying now is that in the long run, solar energy may be cheaper than diesel-powered generators
Yes. Some developed countries that are manufacturing the panels are trying to see if there are ways they can reduce the cost, but you see, it is not something they can reduce overnight. They have come up withanother type of solar panel called thin film. It is lighter than what we are using now but it is not yet in circulation.
Though it is not even cheaper but it is more flexible than what we are using now. We are looking at ways we can make the prices to come down so that the poor masses can get hold of it. This is what the Federal Government should have done for people instead of spending money on energy they know does not work.
They should have spent that money on solar energy since they know that solar can work here in Nigeria. It is the duty of our government to at least give to every home the energy that will serve them. If they install it and begin to collect their money as they collect for Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), I think it will be better for people.
In other words, government will install and supply people and the people will pay as they do with PHCN
Yes, they will install and consumers will pay. In the long run, people will be able to pay. You see, the problem is bringing the money in bulk to install it so if government can go to that extent, it will be better.
If they can zone it, do it zone by zone like they zone PHCN now. They can zone solar, you know, get land and install solar panels with the capacity of energy to serve people in that area.
So the panel doesnâ€™t have to be installed on a building
No, it can be on a building or in a central place then people can draw light to their homes with wire. In Europe, it is called solar farm. Individuals have solar farms and government also. From such farms, homes are connected with light and at the end of the month, they pay for the services.
So there is no power outage
No. That is why Iâ€™m saying government should invest in solar energy instead of wasting our money on energy they know does not work, let them adopt solar and wind.
Are you conversant with wind energy too
Not so much but it is not every area that wind energy works. It works where we have enough wind like in the northern part of the country. Wind energy is supposed to be used there. And government is supposed to be doing all these for the people because if they invest in it, not just government but banks and all these big companies can do it. It is a very good business. They install the solar panels and supply light to people and get paid at the end of the month and before they know it, they would have recovered their money. That is my own advice. I use solar energy here. My freezer is solar-powered
That means you have no business with PHCN
I still have business with PHCN because I have a metre which I paid for so whenever they supply light, I switch over to PHCN, though we have not had supply from them for almost two weeks now.
So you are never in darkness