Agriculture: A case for renewable energy
Nigeria, like other developing countries, is facing serious energy challenges. It is clear that energy supply and price volatility have continued to play a significant role in determining the level of economic activities in the countries.
It has also been reported that economic growth in Nigeria will require massive infusions of sustainable energy in the nearest future. This increasing energy inputs we are yearning for will not only be required for electrical power production for home and industrial use but also for agriculture productive purposes.
Kano and Jigawa states, for example, have heavily invested in wind turbine irrigation farming and windmill machines for providing clean water for rural communities and grazing livestock, respectively. Ondo State has developed techville, a technology innovative village that is fully powered by solar energy, Ogun State has also been working on bioethanol project.
Renewable energy has been defined as the energy derived from naturally occurring and replenishable energy flows with positive Life Circle Assessment value. These include Solar, Wind, Hydro, Tidal, Geothermal and Biomass energy resources– all of which are mostly driven by solar energy.
They are inexhaustible source of energy solutions that can provide a competitive alternative to petroldiesel and gasoline generating systems that are increasingly under cost pressures - rising fossil fuel costs; frequent servicing requirements and problems associated with increasing environmental emissions.
The concerns on the economic, environmental and national security implications of the energy sources have triggered significant interest in some renewable energy sources, such as small hydro power, Wind, Solar, and Bioenergy (Biofuels such as Bio-diesel, Bioethanol, and Biogasetc.).
As a result, many progressive governments have adopted renewable energy sources that would support the development
Kano and Jigawa states, for example,
have heavily invested in wind turbine irrigation
farming and windmill machines for providing clean
water for rural communities and grazing livestock,
of alternative sources of energy for electricity supply, street lighting, home power, sustainable water supply and irrigation water supply.
For agricultural purposes, solar energy can be used to dry animal skin either through- open or mechanical driers, powering processing operations, preserving meat products, drying vegetables & crops, agricultural products fumigator, thrashing machines and water sprayer. In farm office buildings, it can be used for bulb lighting, cooking, and water heating. It can also be used for farm animals’ vaccine refrigeration (solar refrigerator), water pumping and purification (solar pump) and for lift/pressurised water irrigation supply.
Another contending renewable energy alternative for agriculture purposes is wind Power. It is another very attractive renewable source whose primary energy is free. The use of wind power can be categorised into two, namely: windmill and wind turbine.
Wind turbine is a machine that converts the kinetic energy in wind into mechanical energy. If this mechanical energy is used directly by machinery, such as a pump or grinding mill, the machine is usually called a windmill. If the mechanical energy is converted to electricity for productive uses, the machine is called a wind turbine.
Windmills are proven technology that offers superior benefits over any other mechanical pumping system. For instance, in abstraction of either surface/underground water into storage reservoir for sheep, a cattle grazing is pumping water for livestock through animal trough, and domestic farm irrigation. Its application may also include; filling reservoirs for fish ponds and grinding grains into flour meals as feed for farm animals.
Biomass as any organic matter that is available on a renewable or recurring basis, including agricultural crops and trees, wood and wood wastes and residues, plants (including aquatic plants), grasses, residues, fibers, and animal wastes, municipal wastes, and other waste materials.
Biomass, such as wood, straw, crop residues and manure, contains stored energy. Likewise, Biofuels are liquid fuels produced from biomass and the types include bioethanol, biodiesel, biogas and bio-methanol. Plants such as – Jatropha Curcas, Neem seeds, etc. have been used to produce these biofuels since they have high oil content and good desirable properties required as fuels.