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Renewable energy and oil search in the North

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THE renewable energy revolution is spreading across the globe, especially in developed and not-so-developed economies. Last month, for the first time ever, electric vehicles outsold cars with internal combustion engines in Norway, accounting for 58.4  per cent of all vehicles sold. By 2025, Norway plans to stop sales of new gas and diesel passenger cars and vans.

Norway’s secret to this success is the implementation of a number of incentives to encourage people to buy electric cars. For instance, zero-emission cars don’t pay the 25 per cent Value Added Tax, VAT, and are exempted from Norway’s carbon dioxide, nitrogen oxide and weight taxes imposed on gas and diesel vehicles.

They also get discounts on parking, toll roads and ferries.

oil, North
Men at work

While the Western world is celebrating this advancement in renewable energy technology for its benefits to the global environment and to their own economy as major consumers of crude oil, Nigeria and others whose economies still dependent on fossil fuels should receive this good news with trepidation.

Fear can be a motivation for positive action. Instead of making plans to rescue the country from the sinking ship, which is what crude oil has become, President Muhammadu Buhari, as soon as he came to power in 2015, ordered Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, to double efforts in its search for oil in the North. According to one account which described the search for oil in the North as a wasteful adventure, “the Federal Government has spent about $340 million and an additional N27 billion” searching for oil in the Lake Chad Basin.

The search for oil in the North, which began more than 40 years ago when President Buhari was the Federal Commissioner for Petroleum, is inconsistent with the environmental, technological and economic realities of the 21st century. Any further long term investment in crude oil exploration is an investment that ignores the unfolding realities of the near future.

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Renewable energy – solar, wind, water, geothermal – hold the key to Nigeria’s energy conundrum. The sooner all of us – government and the governed – understand this and act on it, the better it will be for the country.  The Borno State Government took a giant step in this direction and recently unveiled its 40 megawatt solar plant, the largest in Africa.

Nigeria, from the desert to the sea, is blessed with abundant solar energy all year round. We have no reason whatsoever to be in darkness or keep burning our hard-earned money on fossil fuels and power generators.

We must act swiftly and proactively to avert the economic catastrophe that is bound to befall us when the Western World will no longer need our oil to power their engines and factories.

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