Photograph — thingskenya

The University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) has created and launched an organic waste power generating plant, the first of its kind by a university in Nigeria. The plant, a 100 kVA refuse-derived fuel (RDF) gasification generator, is to help address the power issues by generating a steady supply of electricity to the university and nearby communities.

According to reports, the project was initiated four years ago by Professor Chinedu Nebo, the former vice chancellor of UNN, and was completed and inaugurated under the administration of the present vice-chancellor, Professor Benjamin Ozumba. The plant was created by a group of UNN researchers led by Prof Emenike Ejiogu, an engineer with expertise in electric power devices and systems alongside new energy systems, and was funded with a special grant by the university

Following the success of this project, Ejiogu and his team are set to produce more than 10 250kVA plants to supply electricity to the university and neighbouring communities. “Our university’s power demand is three megawatts. With 12 250kVA of RDF plants, we will meet the electricity supply needs of the university,” Ejiogu said. The aim is for the institution to generate its own electricity using organic waste as fuel and save millions of Naira in electricity bills.

This innovation has significant potential to advance power generation with alternative renewable energy in Nigeria, something the country is in dire need of. With an electricity demand of 98,000MW, an installed capacity of 12,522MW, and an actual output of about 4000MW, Nigeria has a power deficit of 94,000MW with only 45 percent of its population with access to electricity. This has led to a major dependence on non-renewable power generators despite an abundance of renewable energy sources, particularly bioenergy.

Generating 542.5 million tons of organic waste annually, Nigeria has the potential of yielding about 25.53 billion m3 of biogas which translates to about 169 541.66 MW of electricity. Exploring this potential with the production of bioenergy on a large scale will greatly increase the country’s electricity grid. Moreover, with the growing demerits of fossil fuels due to its negative impact on public health and the environment, renewable energy is currently the acclaimed emerging energy alternative.

So far, the launch of UNN’s organic waste power plant has received nothing but positive reviews from experts who say it will help tackle noise and environmental pollution. Prof Ejiogu is optimistic that exploring bioenergy by way of the RDF plant will create employment opportunities for Nigeria’s youths as there will be a demand for the production and installation of the power plant on a large scale.

Already, Nigerians who have knowledge about the innovation have contacted Prof Ejiogu with requests for installations of the plant. According to the professor, the RDF plant is more affordable and its higher voltage capacity could power a bulk of electrical appliances than the popular solar energy installations.

Vice Chancellor Ozumba is thrilled and proud that the innovation of the organic waste plant was achieved under his administration. “I am happy that under my watch the university has witnessed innovation and transformation,  another feather has been added to the cap of my administration,” Prof Ozumba said. “This is the first of its kind in the country, using waste to generate electricity.”

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