Africa-Press – Nigeria. The removal of fuel subsidy by the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu-led government has no doubt caused untold hardship for many Nigerians.
However, clean energy advocates and environmentalists, have described the situation as a blessing in disguise for the biofuel sector to present its hidden opportunity amid economic challenges.
President Tinubu during his swearing-in on May 29 announced the removal of fuel subsidy, which triggered the unprecedented hardship being experienced among Nigerians.
President Tinubu’s pronouncement resulted in an exponential increase in petrol pump price from N189 to above N500. In several states, fuel costs between N615 and N650 per litre, while diesel costs more than N1000.
This surge in fuel prices caused significant pain for Nigerians, as prices for food and services skyrocketed, and businesses, Small and Medium-scale Enterprises (SMEs), are struggling to stay afloat due to the increased operating cost.
But amid the hardship and agony, environmentalists believe that the rise in the pump price of fuel has propelled governments, businesses, and consumers to re-evaluate their energy choices and shift focus on biofuel products as a sustainable and cost-effective alternative.
Biofuel is a fuel that is produced from organic materials, rather than by the very slow natural processes involved in the formation of fossil fuels, such as crude oil.
Biofuel can be produced from plants, agricultural, domestic or industrial biowaste. This form of fuel has gained significant attention due to its reduced carbon emissions and potential for a nearly carbon-neutral energy cycle.
Some of the environmentalists that spoke to DAILY POST said the high cost of fossil fuel has led to a surge in biofuel popularity. They argued that the increased demand reflects a growing recognition of the urgent need to combat climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
According to Femi Oye, CEO of Green Energy Biofuels (GEB), the increase in fuel prices has now propped biofuels as a cheaper and healthier option.
He said the country is on the right track following the removal of subsidy, even though it has caused untold hardship for low-income households.
“The removal of fuel subsidy is now bringing out the real value of biofuels. Before now, people ignored biofuel because they felt it was more expensive than conventional fossil fuel.
“But the hike in the price of fuel because of subsidy removal has created an opportunity for biofuels to thrive as a better and cheaper option.”
Oye, the inventor behind the ‘Kike Green Cook stove’- a portable burner that uses cooking gel made from biofuel, stressed that one of the driving factors behind the shift away from fossil fuel is the widespread understanding of the harmful impact of fossil fuels on the environment.
He stressed that traditional fossil fuels, such as liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), kerosene, coal and charcoal release large amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere when burned, contributing to global warming and pollution.
Biofuels, on the other hand, emit significantly fewer greenhouse gases, making them a more sustainable choice.
Oye said, “Nigerians spend over 5 billion dollars annually on fossil fuel. And burning these dirty fuels, plus charcoal and firewood causes grievous impacts on the environment and our health.
“Our women who cook with kerosene are exposed to various kinds of pollution. The emission from fossil fuels is hazardous.
“It has been confirmed that over 100 million women die in Nigeria annually from ailments they get from exposure to smoke they inhale when cooking with fossil fuel. The pollution causes coughing, causes infant mortality, and even miscarriages in women. It also causes low sperm counts in men.
“So with the subsidy removal by the government, millions of Nigerians and African households are beginning to cut down on their dependence on fossil fuel, expensive kerosene, charcoal, firewood, and switching to biofuel because it’s more affordable and healthier.”
Speaking further on other low-hanging fruits of the increase in fuel prices, Philip Etukudo, an environmentalist said: “It is true that Nigerians love cheap fuel, but that does not automatically mean that there is no good that can come from higher energy prices. Markets are made up of multiple independent agents and what constitutes a challenge for one can be an opportunity for others.
“There are sectors that thrive when oil prices march upward. Environmentalists like me all over the world believe that burning oil (and other hydrocarbons) is generally a bad thing for the ecosystem, so higher prices of fuel would lead to lower usage.
“With high fuel and gasoline prices, people will drive less, which translates to having fewer vehicles emitting carbon monoxide on the road. Because of this high cost of fuel people will now explore online shopping, and working from the comfort of their homes,” he told DAILY POST.
According to Etukudo, public awareness campaigns and educational initiatives have played a pivotal role in informing individuals about the benefits of biofuels.
“Many Nigerians are beginning to understand the need to protect our environment and reduce pollution. So people are now actively seeking out and advocating for biofuel options.
“However, challenges still exist, such as the limited availability. So as the government continues to plan for palliatives to ameliorate the increased price of fuel, they should also look at investing in biofuel research and development.
“This will lead to further advancements in biofuel technology and production efficiency, which scale up biofuel production while simultaneously driving costs down”, he added.
Also, Michael Ukpa, another environmental advocate of the Campaign Against Pollution Initiative (CAPI), affirmed that the increased fuel prices have several benefits, for both at an individual level and for society as a whole.
Ukpa in a chat with DAILY POST also stressed that the subsidy removal and the resultant increase in fuel prices will not only lead to the conservation of natural resources, and environmental protection, but will boost investments in alternative energy sources, and could lead to development of public transportation and infrastructure.
He said, “It is true that the government didn’t show much coordination in the way they announced the removal of subsidy on May 29. One area greatly influenced by the increased cost of fuel is the automobile sector.
“Now we hear people calling and urging government and car manufacturers to start switching over to eco-friendly options like CNG vehicles and electric cars.
“So the hike in fuel price has not only bolstered the growth of the electric vehicle market but has also encouraged investment in charging infrastructure, battery technology, and renewable energy sources.
“The renewable energy sector has experienced a surge in investment and development as well. Higher fuel prices have made renewable energy sources, such as solar and inverters.
“Businesses and homes that used to rely on generators are increasingly adopting green energy solutions to mitigate the impact of rising fuel costs.
“This increased demand has not only led to the creation of new jobs but has also spurred technological advancements in the renewable energy sector, making it more efficient and affordable,” he said.