We have all considered living off-grid at some point. Maybe just after you get that outrageous electricity bill or maybe during a period of lenghty power outage, you got so fed up and you just wanted to cut of your electricity supply and provide your own power.
A lot of times, one of the common problems of taking such actions is deciding the appropriate alternate power source. Obviously you want one that will be affordable and sustainable ( also you should consider one that is environment friendly).
Here we will discuss the best alternative power supply available for the Average Nigerian:
A lot of people often balk at the prospect of solar powering their homes. This is due to the assumption that solar power is expensive. However, solar powered energy might be a more affordable option in the long run when compared to some modern alternatives.
Solar panels are made up of an array of solar cells that have the ability to absorb the sun’s energy, which is often stored in batteries. The average cost of an 80W solar panel goes for 43,500 (you should also consider the cost of the batteries and other minor attachments that come with installing a fully functional solar powered system)
A rough estimation shows that you may require about 9 solar panels of 80Watts to power a flat of 2 to 3 bedrooms.
Solar energy is limitless, eco-friendly and noiseless making it a very viable alternative power source.
Solar energy is also a good option due to our exposure to sun rays (Nigeria is at the equator and enjoys a lot and sometimes too much exposure to the sun). However, it does have its disadvantages, as it is only accessible during the day and it is still quite an expensive undertaking at first. The solar power option, however, does have the potential to be cost-effective in the long run.
Power Inverters are Electronic gadgets that convert energy stored in a battery to AC current that will power your appliances. Their major selling points are their low noise and emission free operations as well as their convenience.
These inverters come in various sizes and power capacities and just like solar powered energy, it’s cost is usually very related to the amount of power you intend to get from the device. Inverters, when used with the appropriate battery can power almost all household devices from small rechargeable lamps to refrigerators. However, inverters have the downside of being only able to operate after appropriate charge.
Hence if you live in a place with No power at all, inverters might not be the best option for you. Preferably, inverters will be good as a standby option in a place with inconsistent power supply.
Also, inverters should be used on the small scale and are often not recommended if you operate with appliances that require a lot of power.
Inverter prices can range from 44,500 (1 kVA) – 292,000 (7.5 kVA).
A biofuel is a fuel that is produced through contemporary biological processes such as agriculture and anaerobic digestion, rather than a fuel produced by geological processes such as those involved in the formation of fossil fuels, such as coal and petroleum, from prehistoric biological matter.
Even though at first Biofuels might sound like an odd mention on this list but it is definitely a worthy one.
As biofuel are actually readily available in Nigeria and can be easily found in our supermarkets (look for the greenish looking fuel for clean cooking stoves). This Biofuel can easily replace the need for your electric cooker.
Though, as at the time of writing this article biofuel generators are not available in the country, however, these cheaper alternative to kerosene is one that can ease you the stress of worrying about an alternative to your electric cooker, especially if you’re considering off-grid.
Clean cookstoves burn efficiently and are very portable and affordable. They are a lot safer to use than your standard Coal, gas, and kerosene powered stoves. Unlike solar panels, the initial investment cost for Biofuel–powered stoves are low. A single bio-fuel-powered stove can go for prices between N5000 to N6000, meaning just about anybody can afford them.
These are the most common alternative sources of power supply. Almost every home in Nigeria owns a generator ranging from the smaller better-pass-my-neighbour to the more larger and power capable sets. These generators which have shown to have a very harmful effect on the environment are widely regarded as the most cost effective alternative to power supply.
Considering its ease of accessibility and it’s short-term benefits, it’s easy to see why these might not be the bargain people will have you believe it is. Especially considering the noise and environmental pollution these generators can cause.
Recent reports have shown that diesel emissions are the biggest problem of the environment, with even some sects stating that these emissions might even be carcinogenic. Petrol generators are no saints either has they have been known to be equally harmful.
These are the most common and realistic alternative to power supply. Also in the nearest future, we expect to see small areas attempt to independently power their areas using micro-hydro power or/and wind power. Wind-powered electricity, in particular, seems to have loads of untapped potential in Nigeria.
Also consider in investing in rechargeable gadgets in and around your home, as this will ease your off-grid migration.