A PhD student from Robert Gordon University (RGU) is working with Bayelsa State Government in Nigeria to investigate the best way to establish a viable offshore renewable energy industry in the country.
Victor Osu, who is originally from Delta State, has focused his research on how best to foster the transition to offshore renewable energy in developing economies, using Bayelsa State as a case study working and alongside RGU colleagues Dr Joanneke Kruijsen and Dr Ebun Akinsete.
He is set to embark on a visit to Nigeria, during which he will spend time in both Lagos and Abuya, meeting with a range of stakeholders including representatives of the Nigeria Institute of Oceanography and Marine Research, United Kingdom Trade and Investment (UKTI), the Energy Commission of Nigeria and the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation.
Victor will also meet with the United Nation Industrial Development Organisation to further firm up a potential funding grant of $100,000 for project preparatory activities in Bayelsa state.
It is anticipated this funding will give rise to more funding once the preparatory activity is over, which would be used for a potential three years offshore renewable energy development in Bayelsa state.
Victor said: “What I’m doing is looking at the potential of implementing or developing offshore renewable energy in Nigeria. It is not just as simple as telling a community or a country that there is this technology and they should use it – there needs to be a focus on the wider socio-economic factors that will actually make it feasible for it to be sustainable and the key stakeholders need to be brought together in order to discuss that transition process.
“That is important to ensure that they don’t repeat mistakes that have been made in trying to implement renewable technology elsewhere. Oil and gas companies are some of the most important stakeholders in this process as they have the resources to be able to facilitate the transition process and while renewables and oil and gas may seem to be at odds, they are actually quite complementary.
“If oil and gas companies can use renewable energy to cut their CO2 emissions that then benefits their reputation – sustainability is something that is really on the agenda in Nigeria and CO2 reduction is going to be a big issue in the future.
“If it is viable for oil and gas companies in Nigeria to use renewable energy to offset their CO2 output, they will do it. We are starting to see people in Aberdeen who are looking into this too.”
Victor has developed a model to assist in the renewable energy transition process which is composed of four key elements – Decentralised Energy Systems; Renewable Energy; Local Context; and Stakeholder Engagement.
Victor said: “The fundamental principles of the model, which is currently being applied to a case study in Bayelsa State, are community participation and ownership.
“The potential benefits of the model are exponential and virtually endless. The fact that the model focuses on creating an enabling environment for sustainable energy access and development due to its emphasis on adaptability and flexibility means that it is easily replicated in a variety of different locations.”
By empowering communities to drive forward their own development, Victor sees the impact of sustainable energy access as being transformational.
“It could impact on all the elements of sustainable development,” he said. “From lighting for homes and schools, cleaner indoor air, better equipped health
facilities, electricity for agricultural pumps and sanitation, to the creation of more small- and medium-sized enterprises and more income-generating opportunities, improving education and attaining environmental sustainability.
“I am very much looking forward to discussing how we can take my work forward in a practical way during my visit to Nigeria this month.”