By Oscarline Onwuemenyi
ABUJA – The European Union (EU) has said it would spend about N460 million on a project, SUNGAS, which is aimed to improve access to energy in the country from renewable and non-renewable sources.
The Union observed that Nigeria is the worldâ€™s second largest flarer of associated natural gas, which causes environmental pollution, damages human health, and destroys livelihoods.
Speaking at launch of the project on Monday in Abuja , the Senior Researcher on Business and Sustainable Development with the International Institute for Environment and Development, Ms Emma Wilson, explained that the project would ensure sustainable utilization of gas and renewable energy resources in Nigeria .
She said, â€œThe SUNGAS Project seeks to demonstrate that decentralized energy provision can be sustainable and commercially viable in the Niger Delta, providing social and economic empowerment for communities.â€
She noted that despite abundant hydrocarbon and renewable energy resources, Nigeria suffers persistent energy crisis, adding that decades of exporting oil and gas, dependence on imported fuels, and poor maintenance of infrastructure have made poverty reduction and achievement of the Millennium Development Goals difficult.
According to a statement from the EU, the overall objective of the project is to contribute to the reduction of poverty and conflict and achievement of the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) and the governmentâ€™s goals of vision 2020 by enhancing the potential for the country to resolve its energy crisis using its own energy resources in a sustainable manner.
It added, â€œThe project aims to implement model energy projects using associated gas and renewable energy resources. We seek to demonstrate what energy options are possible for communities and local enterprises.
â€œWe also seek to influence debates for change in local and national policy to support decentralized energy provision and energy-related enterprises, and we aim to build the skills for people to make the most of new energy services.â€
It pointed out that that the gas-to-power component of the SUNGAS project will utilize currently flared associated gas to generate electricity for domestic and commercial consumption.
â€œWe will establish a gas-powered facility to produce and distribute electricity to local households, businesses and key services like health and education.
The renewable energy component will deliver up to five community oriented energy projects, together with community-led institutions to own and manage facilities beyond the life of the project.â€
At the end of the project, it is expected that a reformed policy framework to promote sustainable utilization of gas flaring for community-based electricity provision and energy is developed.
â€œIn addition, a community-based demonstration project for utilization of flared gas to generate electricity for household and enterprise consumption, support to public services in targeted communities and five community-based renewable energy facilties.
â€œThe product would work on scaling up replicating lessons and successes of the pilot initiatives in order to satisfy the energy service requirements of communities in the Niger Delta,â€ it added.