Photo credit: Resilience.org

Generating electricity is not as complicated as we have made it to be in Nigeria.
The first power plant in Nigeria was built in Lagos back in 1896 barely 15 years after electricity went commercial in Great Britain. That was 120 years ago. That is a fact.

Nevertheless, from the many courses I have taken in the energy sector, generating electricity is a simple concept.

First, the source of the electricity, which could be a moving body of water, the Sun, natural gas, city or municipal waste and agricultural waste.

Hydro power system is the oldest and simplest form of electricity generation. For home and local use, there are at least three kinds of systems- micro, pico and mini. They are classified according to the number of kilowatts produced. Each works with three tools, water, turbine, and electric generator.

Now the idea.

A typical hydro plant depends on water that is stored and holds a lot of pressure. When released, the pressured water drives a turbine which is connected to an electric generator. And viola, electricity is generated. It as simple as A,B,C,D.

Now, how about constructing a gigantic overhead tank of a pre-determined capacity in litres with a huge pipe of a pre-determined length. At the bottom of the pipe will be attached a turbine and electric generator. The water will initially come from a borehole. Once a tank is filled, the water will be reticulated and topped up once in a while.

What is needed?

A proof of concept. What capacity of tank will hold enough water with enough pressure that will produce enough electricity for:
A single family home
A small apartment complex
A small village production centre

How do we go about it?

The structural engineers will come up with drawings of the contraptions needed. Then software engineers working in collaboration electrical engineers will work out load and output possiblities in a computer simulation to determine whether or not the project will be a viable.

A mini turbine courtesy Soar.

A turbine-electric generator combo courtesy Alibaba

How do we fund a prototype?

If the project is viable, we would need some funds to build a prototype. Go fund me will be one option among many that can be explored.
The prototype should be sited in one of the close by and accessible villages in the Federal Capital Territory.

Who should take up this challenge?

University students and graduates in the relevant fields. Tech junkies and development NGOs.

A stand alone electric generator courtesy Alibaba

For communities that have viable streams, waterfalls and rivers, this idea can be escalated to include mini, micro and pico hydro systems. A typical project takes 6 to 8 weeks to complete.

Illustration of how a micro hydro system works courtesy Green Peace UK.
Another illustration of micro hydro system courtesy of Practical Action UK.

Conclusion

The power problem in Nigeria will persist for decades. We can not pray our way out of it.
Those that we started the business of generating electricity with-the United States and the United Kingdom are a million miles ahead. Catching up with them, if ever, will be a task for generations of Nigerians stretching into an unknowable time in the future.

Nevertheless, we can begin the process of running with a distributed electricity generation system right away.

Regulatory bodies and government must open up the required space for innovative entrepreneurs to enter the market and deliver electricity to small chunks of customers. Current Distribution Companies must not be allowed to get in the way.
That is the way to go in other to light up the country one house and one village at a time.

So, Let’s roll. Leave a comment below and get in touch at Newspackng@gmail.com if you are in. This is our own “10 years” challenge (lol).