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WIND ENERGY

Wind is another great free source of energy, especially in Africa which has large expanse of lands completely unobstructed from the flow of wind power.Wind turbines could be extremely rugged and may be indispensable and most desirable power solution  in places like remote farms and industries, where there is no access to electricity requiring several mega watts of power. Wind energy has the particular advantage of taking up far less land space compared to solar electricity.

Challenges of Wind Energy in Nigeria and Africa

Wind power, a source of clean energy, is growing rapidly in most developed nations, supplying millions of homes and industries with reliable electricity. In 2009, the U.S wind industry installed 10,010 megawatts (MW) of generating capacity, representing 39% of all U.S electric generation capacity additions for that year, enough to power the equivalent of about 2.4million homes-the generating capacity of three large nuclear plants. The U.S targets wind energy to supply 20% of its electricity by the year 2030. This is quite different in Nigeria and most other developing and poor nations. The technology seems very complicated and there is little or no research and support going on in this field in our institutions.

1. The wind turbine is made up of many complicated components; there are more than 8000 component parts of a wind turbine. The blade, the gear box, the turbine, the tower being the four major component systems. There are hardly any or few professionals, either in the academy or in the field to support this technology currently in Nigeria. Most of the professional support to wind technology would be foreign.

2. Transportation and deployment could be a major issue due to unavailability of good access roads and trucks of required size and capacity. Some turbines have blades as long as 45metres and towers more than 80metres.

3. Reliable wind data is necessary before any installation of wind turbine in any given geographical location. Forecasting of generated energy and how this would vary over seasons is a key consideration in design and deployment, since this will help engineers to provide for periods of lower power generation, improving power supply reliability. The general global wind data is not adequate enough to make decisions of several million naira investment, higher resolution wind analysis is required to get precise information on wind data in prospective areas of wind turbine installation.

4. Reliability of wind turbines has been a key issue in wind technology. Wind turbines are expected to have a minimum life span of 20 years but it has been observed that a lot of gear boxes fail within 7 to 11 years of installation. Repairs and replacement are very expensive and time-consuming, thus increasing the cost of wind plant operation while reducing plant’s power output and revenue.

5. Evaluation of the impact of wind farm citing on aviation telemetry that is within the vicinity of the wind farm is something that requires consideration. It has been discovered in the U.S that there is certainly an interaction of waves between a wind farm crossing the line of sight of aviation radar and aviation telemetry. This is usually dependent on the characteristics of the radio waves used in the radar equipment. This needs to be examined for the Nigerian case when this vicinity issue arises.

6. Unavailable skilled work force to fill the jobs that will be generated by wind power growth.

7. Poor inculcation of wind energy technology into our curriculum from primary to the university level.

8. Study of the effect of wind turbine on the environment considering the noise produced, the danger posed by the rotating blade and stability of the tower and the general structure in the face of severe storm and very harsh weather elements.

These concerns raise serious questions on the sustainability of wind power operation in Nigeria and Africa in general, compared to other energy sources like coal powered turbines, gas turbines,solar and hydro electricity.
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