CHINA LEADS THE WAY IN RENEWABLE RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

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China has been the source of many innovations, scientific discoveries and inventions. This includes the four great inventions: paper making, the compass, gun powder, printing (both woodblock and movable type). Amongst other inventions of China, is that of the first famous metallurgist, Qiwu Huaiwen who invented the process of using wrought iron and cast iron to make steel.

  • As the world’s largest energy consumer, running mostly on coal, China often struggles to keep pollution levels at bay, but the country is now beginning to do an admirable job of taking responsibility for its vast environmental footprint. Switching on the world’s largest floating solar energy plant, says it all.
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China’s reputation for heavily polluted skies and thick clouds of smog, have taken another height with the completion of what may be tagged the world’s largest floating solar farm, in the Eastern Anhui province. The plant is said to have 40 megawatts of energy enough to power over 15,000 homes, according to the company that set up the facility; Sungrow Power Supply.

According to Irina Slav, a writer with U.S.-based Divergente LLC consulting firm; Denmark’s behemoth-sized wind turbine is capable of producing just 9 megawatts, while the Chinese floating solar facility can produce 40. Singapore has also begun experimenting with large floating solar farms.

Coming home, the Transmission Company of Nigeria, TCN has earlier notified the public of the nation’s power generation capacity dropping from 3,959 megawatts on January 4 to 2,662 megawatts on January 22. TCN attributed the drop to lower water levels at the hydro power stations and dearth of gas to the companies generating power. The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashiola, recently blamed the sabotage of power assets by militants for preventing Nigeria from generating 7000MW of electricity.

“the nation’s power grid would support 6,500MW; pushed to  its limit, it would carry 7200MW. So it is not true when you hear that the grid capacity is not more than 5,000MW. It is growing everyday and more projects are coming.  We have completed some and more are still coming up. So that is where we are, Mr. Fashola said at the Nextier Power Dialogue in Abuja on Friday.”

Irina Slav further stated thus, “…… the top two biggest suppliers of solar panels globally are Chinese. In fact, six of the top ten suppliers are Chinese. China is betting on solar, and it’s betting big. It may well turn from the biggest polluter into the most vocal advocate of climate action. It’s only in its best interest – all those coal miners losing their jobs with the shutdown of mine and the shift to cleaner energy will need jobs, for one. For another, it is important for the world’s second-largest energy consumer to reduce its dependence on imported energy. All very good reasons to go renewable and do it quickly.”

Aquatic sites for solar plants have several advantages including:

  • Here, solar farms do not take up valuable space on land that could be used for other purposes.
  • Evaporating water naturally cools the panels (cooling effects) and keeps them more efficient,
  • The shade from the panels themselves helps to mitigate evaporative losses of water by intercepting sunlight before it hits a reservoir’s surface.

China isn’t the first to construct such a facility, but the size of the Huainan plant surpasses all its predecessors. By 2030, China aims to generate a fifth of its energy from renewable sources. Coal consumption has been falling for the last three years in a row. This may not be good news for coal producers—China gobbles 50 percent of the world’s total output—it is certainly good news for pretty much everyone else.

Nigeria and China seem to have been on same page in energy consumption. Today, China is doing a good job of taking care of its polluted skies and thick clouds of smog; by switching this floating solar plant.

While, Nigeria rely on water levels of hydro power stations and gas production; others resort to solar and recycling (Germany) to generate its energy. By 2030, China aims to generate a fifth of its energy from renewable sources.

For remedial actions to enhance generation of energy in Nigeria; there is need to put into consideration two key things:

  • Recycling: nothing is a waste. Yes, paper, nylon, plastics etc shouldn’t be disposed any longer.
  • Science Education: the type of scientists Nigeria produces. Nation development won’t be conclusive without teaching and learning of science. Nigerians tend to perform better in a foreign land (enabling environment). Our environment can be made enabling and conducive to produce “practicing scientists”.

Applied Science departments should boast of their contribution to National growth and not the number of graduates produced. It is time to put theories into practice. Ongoing projects in every institution should be executed by the adequate department responsible for such.

Take for instance; while constructing a lecture block, the Building, Architecture, Civil Engineering departments should seize the opportunity to proof their capability. Infact, accreditation teams should consider this as a major standard.

Do you see Nigeria beating China by 2030?

 

 

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Onwukeme Ijeoma  is a passionate Science Educator, Researcher, Academic Counselor and Consultant.

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