As a result of increase in human activities which requires so much energy, our planet has become over-heated. We have polluted the environment with too many toxic wastes that have increased the global temperature. Consequently, our green planet is now unhealthy and unsafe for us. Thus, we have jeopardised our health, environment and climate. In fact, mother earth weeps now. Therefore, we need to save ourselves and the earth as our future energy requirements continue to grow with increase in living standards, industrialization and a host of other socio-economic factors. We need to embrace the use of clean energy sources. We need to invest more in maximising the resources that renewable energy can offer. Besides, renewable energy sources are not only sustainable, but are also cheap, reliable and healthy for the environment.
Therefore, to salvage our green planet from dying; the 7th Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) aims to “ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.” Its targets include ensuring that there is universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy services. It also aimed at increasing the proportion of the population with access to electricity. And to increase the proportion of population with primary reliance on clean fuels and technology. Ability to achieve this goal and its targets will go a long way to eradicate poverty and promote advanced health, promote sustainable industrialization, improve education as well as ensure clean water supply.
Local, renewable energy provides a healthy, more affordable and practical energy solutions for people living in the rural areas who are hitherto cut-off from electricity supply. Also, several millions of naira can be saved in accumulated energy cost when energy is properly managed. For instance, wind, solar, and hydroelectric systems generate electricity with no associated air pollution emissions. Geothermal and biomass energy systems emit some air emissions that are generally much lower than those of coal- and natural gas-fired power plants. Wind and solar energy require little or no water to operate and thus do not pollute water resources or strain supply by competing with agriculture, drinking water systems, or other important water needs.
In contrast, fossil fuels can have a significant impact on water resources. Furthermore, both coal mining and natural gas drilling can pollute sources of drinking water. Natural gas extraction by hydraulic fracturing (fracking) requires large amounts of water and all thermal power plants, including those powered by coal, gas, and oil, withdraw and consume water for cooling. Hence they compete with humans and also pollute the water resources. Therefore it is beneficial for us to preserve the purity of our planet and the well-being of us the inhabitants by embracing a safer, cleaner and much more sustainable means of energy.
Nigeria is relatively endowed with abundant fossil fuels and other renewable energy sources, yet the energy situation in the country is yet to be structured and managed in such a way as to ensure sustainable energy development. Statistical reports from UNDP shows that only 47% of her population have access to electricity because of economic and technological drawbacks while about 53 percent of her inhabitants do not have access to electricity for their domestic needs. Unfortunately too, the socio-economic condition of many Nigerians especially in the rural areas deprives them access to clean energy. They cannot install solar panels in their homes as an alternative to electricity. Neither do they have the knowledge about practical ways of using clean energy solutions. It is also even more unfortunate that the supply of electricity even to the urban areas is epileptic. Hence, most Nigerians in rural and urban centres still lack access to clean energy.
A number of interventions have been implemented by the UN system in collaboration with the government of Nigeria: UNDP Access to Renewable Energy Programme was established to focus on increasing the national capacity to invest in and utilize renewable energy resources, and to improve the access to modern energy services for Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs); Bank of Industry and UNDP collaborated to increase national capacity to invest in and utilize renewable energy resources to improve access to modern energy services for MSMEs and other households; the Federal Ministry of Environment initiated the Renewable Energy Programme as part of the country’s commitment to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and as part of African strategy on voluntary emission reduction.
Also, 10 rural women Cooperatives were empowered with the Rural Women Energy Security project (RUWES) Business Model Package-tricycle loaded with the cleaner energy lighting and cooking kits aimed at creating viable market potentials for the women while creating jobs for foundry workers, welders, mechanics to mention a few in cook-stoves production. In addition to this, The National Clean Cooking Scheme (NCCS) was also set-up to reduce and eventually eliminate cooking with solid and fossil fuels such as firewood and kerosene, which are expensive and difficult to source while being detrimental to our health and the environment at large. The Rural Energy Access Project (REAP) and The Renewable Energy Programme (REP) were successfully embarked on to ensure Rural Electrification, providing and installing Stand Alone Solar Systems for 600 households as well as training in Mutum Biu, Gassol LGA, Taraba State.
No doubt, much have been done by the government, but there is need to do more. Mother earth weeps. It is the responsibility of all to act now and save the earth.
Written by Ms Ifeoluwa Akinola (An intern)