GEOTHERMAL SOURCES OF RENEWABLE ENERGY IN NIGERIA
Nigeria has a high demand for power; energy for growth identified that the country needs well over 63GW of new generation to satisfy its demand. The country has installed power generation capacity of 16,384MW and distribution of only 4,000 MW which is inadequate for its population of over 213 million people. Nigeria’s main power generation is from gas-fired thermal power plants (11,972MW) and hydro power (2,062MW) other sources are Solar (28MW) and wind (10MW). Challenges such as insufficient gas and grid infrastructure have hindered the growth of the traditional power sector and have necessitated the need to move beyond gas-fired power plants to the utilization of renewable energy.
Over the past couple of years, limitations in the gas and grid infrastructure have hindered the growth of the traditional power sector and have necessitated the need to move beyond gas-fired power plants to the utilization of renewable energy. In addition, Nigeria has a high commitment to the Paris Agreement international treaty on climate change and this unmet power gap in Nigeria may be supplemented with renewable energy from geothermal sources.
One potential source of geothermal energy is a hot spring. A hot spring is a natural body of water that is produced by the internal heat of the earth. Hot springs can be found in many parts of the world, particularly in areas with volcanic or tectonic activity with temperature ranging from a few degrees above the ambient temperature to boiling hot, and is often rich in minerals due to its contact with the Earth’s crust.
How are they formed?
Hot springs are formed by geothermal activity deep within the Earth’s crust. The Earth’s mantle is a layer of hot rock that lies beneath the Earth’s crust, and in some areas, this mantle heat can be transferred to the surface through cracks and fissures in the rocks. When the hot water or steam from deep within the Earth reaches the surface, it can create a hot spring. The water in hot springs is heated by geothermal heat and can reach temperatures of up to 200°F (93°C) or higher. This heat can come from a variety of sources, including hot rocks, magma chambers, and geothermal reservoirs.
How geothermal electricity is generated
A well is drilled to tap into the hot spring’s geothermal energy. The well is usually several thousand feet deep. The heat from the hot spring causes water to turn into steam. The steam is then collected from the well and is directed to a power plant. The steam is used to turn a turbine. The turbine is connected to a generator which converts the kinetic energy of the turbine into electricity.
After passing through the turbine, the steam is condensed back into water, and then it is injected again into the ground through injection wells. The electricity produced by the generator is transmitted to the electrical grid to power homes and businesses.
Geothermal Springs in the World.
Hot springs are known to be formed in many parts of the world and these include Ethiopia, Morocco, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and other Africa countries like Madagascar, Algeria, South Africa and Nigeria (warm springs).
Can Nigeria’s Warm Spring Produce Geothermal Energy for Electricity?
Nigeria has various warm springs, these include Akiri saline warm spring (Nassarawa), Ikogosi Warm spring (Ekiti state), Wikki warm springs (Yankari Parks). Of all these, the spring with the highest temperature is found in Akiri Warm Saline Spring, which has an average of 53.5°C. This temperature is not high enough to generate the heat necessary for electricity generation. The more plausible source of geothermal energy in Nigeria could be through abandoned oil and gas wells.
Old Oil & Gas Wells as a Source of Generating Geothermal energy
There are two possibilities to produce geothermal energy with oil wells. Firstly, one can convert abandoned oil wells for geothermal production. Secondly, one can co-produce hydrocarbons and heat. In both cases, reusing existing wells avoids expensive drilling costs for new wells.
Economic Benefits of Generating Power through Geothermal Sources
Lower operating costs:
Once a geothermal power plant is built, it has lower operating costs than traditional fossil fuel plants. The only major expenses are drilling and maintenance of the wells, and these costs are relatively low compared to the ongoing costs of fuel for traditional power plants
Predictable energy costs:
Geothermal power plants have predictable energy costs because they are not subject to fluctuations in fuel prices. This means that they can provide a stable and reliable source of electricity at a predictable cost.
Renewable energy credits:
Geothermal power plants are eligible for renewable energy credits, which can provide additional revenue for the plant and reduce the cost of electricity.
To address the energy deficit in Nigeria, the country needs to continuously pursue all combinations of power sources i.e, geothermal, gas, hydropower, solar & wind. Huge investment is needed for upgrading the transmission infrastructure so consumers can benefit from the over 13,000 installed electricity generating capacity. With this in mind, the FG signed an Agreement with Siemens for the Implementation Of The Road Map To Resolve Challenges In Nigeria’s Power Sector. The plan is to meet Nigeria’s power supply needs in a phased programme that would see to the generation and distribution of 25,000 megawatts (mw) of electricity by 2025.
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