The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Alhaji Abubakar Bwari says the Federal Government is looking at the untapped potential of environment-friendly geothermal energy in a bid to drive economic development.
Bwari said this in Abuja at the Nigerian Mining and Geoscience Society (NMGS) and the Nigerian Geological Survey Agency (NGSA) discourse series on ‘Geothermal Energy; an Untapped Potential’.
The theme of the conference was ‘Geothermal Energy Resources of Nigeria; An Untapped Potential for Socio-Economic Development’.
He said that the event was for scientists to discuss one subject that had huge bearing on the immediate well-being of the people; the need to provide cheaper, cleaner and more electricity to Nigerians.
“The whole aim of government is to provide the enabling environment for enterprise to thrive and ensure the wellbeing of its citizenry, but this is not possible without giving them adequate electricity.
“As the Federal Government continues to pursue vigorously, traditional means of providing power, we must also look at the untapped potential of geothermal energy as well as similar cutting edge scientific resources,’’ Bwari said.
He said that the deregulation of the power sector had created room for the diversification of the country’s energy mix away from just hydropower to the use of fossil fuels and other renewable sources.
“I am aware that some countries, even our sister African countries, already have a head-start in terms of research on geothermal energy.
“Information available shows that Kenya, for instance, has achieved about 1000mw of energy from geothermal energy.
“Nigeria can, therefore, take a cue from this and develop a robust approach to acquiring this new energy resource,’’ Bwari said.
He added that experts had advised that Nigeria should approach energy issue through modular basis by taking care of regional and area specific demands, particularly rural areas, rather than making each geothermal station feed the entire nation.
Bwari said that apart from power, geothermal ecosystem also offered opportunities in geo-tourism as exemplified by the country’s warm springs which have been largely underdeveloped.
According to him, if the country can produce and export cement with more efforts the professions in the energy sector can do better considering that they are important to the country.
Alex Nwegbu, Director-General, Nigerian Geological Survey Agency (NGSA), said the activities of the agency have resulted in the discovering and inventorying of mineral deposit.
Others results are providing geo-science information for the study of geo-hazards, offering geological service for the construction industry, agriculture, water resources, environment and energy.
Nwegbu said that the agency had achieved a lot in the past three years which included project on the characterisation of phosphate resources and a critical factor in the quest for self-sufficiency in the production of fertilisers.
“We have partnered with stakeholders to discover and characterise more rich carbonate resources of Nigeria; this exercise will address the critical issues contained in the National Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP) as contained in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP),’’ he said.
Nwegbu said the discussion would attempt to bring to focus an area if adequately addressed had the capacity to bring relief to a seemingly intractable national question-energy.
He said the discussion would chart a sustainable future for the next generation through the use of one of nature’s greener energy sources-geothermal energy.
“This energy source will be added to our nation’s energy mix and could be the game changer in the quest to providing our rural dwellers with a renewable source of power,’’ Nwegbu said.
He said with such the rural communities could build economic resilience through the provision of needed renewable power sources for a local end to end integrated agricultural value chain that would meet local demands.