Can Propane Solve Nigeria’s Electricity Woes?
Every once in a while, a new technology, an old problem, and a big idea turn into an innovation – Dean Kamen
Drawing an analogy from Dean Kamen’s apt saying about technology one can understand the prospects of propane as a viable alternative for power supply in Nigeria.
Propane is a flammable hydrocarbon gas; a by-product of natural gas production which is becoming a popular alternative source of electricity.
Propane contains 91,547 Btu per gallon. A typical furnace will convert about 85% of that to heat, which means that 1 gallon of propane provides about as much heat as 23 kilowatt-hours of electricity.
A propane generator is a mechanical device that is used for the purpose of producing electricity. The electricity is created by converting motorized power from the combustion of propane into electrical energy.
When a propane generator is in use, it will burn the propane, creating heat and energy. A mixture of ammonia and water are present inside the generator. The temperature of this mixture is raised by the heat produced from the burning propane, bringing the mixture to a burning point and creating ammonia gas. The ammonia gas then flows from the generator.
A portable propane generator will provide electricity for a short amount of time, usually no longer than a few hours. A standby propane generator is larger than a portable propane generator and can provide electricity for several days because propane is usually stored underground in storage tanks.
Some standby propane generators have a transfer switch that will automatically turn the generator on when the power goes out and off when the power comes back on. Portable propane generators and some standby models must be manually turned on and off.
Speaking about the potentials of propane energy in Nigeria, Mr. Ian Brown of Vitol South Africa, said; “Nigeria needs to capitalize on propane energy because it is clean and it is going to be cheap. However, there has got to be a high level of safety in the operations and this is where the Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON) could play a crucial role in ensuring standards”
Brown who was speaking during a session at the recent 2018 Oil Trading and Logistics (OTL) Conference in Lagos, stressed that the country could solve its power challenges by effectively harnessing the potentials of propane, even as he noted that the country is rich in natural gas.
Little wonder, Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) gas is becoming popular amongst South Africans. Many South Africans are using this alternative energy source is because gas-powered appliances are becoming more cost-effective and the supply of LP gas is reliable.
Could this be a viable solution to the electricity deficit in Nigeria? Like other alternative and renewable energy sources, LP gas presents an opportunity to reduce reliance – and lower demand – on the power-grid.