Subsidy removal: Expert warns as Nigerians convert power generators from petrol to gas


Nigerians have become more innovative following the removal of fuel subsidy by President Bola Tinubu on May 29.

Tinubu’s sudden decision to stop the oil subsidy regime brought about a sharp rise in the price of petrol. From an average of N200, petrol now sells at a price above N600 per little.

The hike in fuel price has affected the cost of transportation, as well as both tangible and intangible goods. While the government is looking for ways to reduce the cost of transportation through the conversion of petrol buses to ones that could use Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), the authorities pay no attention to electricity power generators.

Nigeria, as a nation, is still suffering from power problems. The nation has the lowest access to electricity globally, with about 92 million persons out of the country’s 200 million population lacking access to power, according to the Energy Progress Report 2022, released by Tracking SDG 7.

The report, produced in conjunction with the International Energy Agency, International Renewable Energy Agency, United Nations Statistics Division, the World Bank and the World Health Organisation, indicated that Nigeria was followed by the Democratic Republic of Congo’s 72 million, Ethiopia’s 56 million and Pakistan’s 54 million access deficits.

DAILY POST reports that the nation’s power grid has continued to collapse at regular intervals, leaving the few powered communities in darkness for many days.

To enjoy electricity in their homes, Nigerians resort to alternative power sources, the cheapest of which is the use of power generators of different sizes. The people run these generators with premium motor spirit, which has now become absolutely unaffordable for the poor masses.

In an attempt to beat the amount of money spent on petrol, Nigerians have taken their destiny in their hands by converting their gasoline generators to gas.

The first step in doing this is to change the petrol carburetor, a device for supplying a spark-ignition engine with a mixture of fuel and air. This will be replaced with a carburetor that uses gas. After this, there is the need for a gas cylinder and a long hose.

The carburetor will be connected to the cylinder with the hose, from where it gets its new fuel. This means the tank of the generator has been rendered useless, but some said the carburetor could be used interchangeably for either gas or petrol.

While the government recommends CNG for converted vehicles, people use Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), the same gas they use in cooking, for these power generators.

Findings by our correspondent confirmed that the use of gas for generators started as far back as 2014, but with a very insignificant number of people who accepted the innovation. Today, the high cost of petrol is forcing many into adopting the initiative.

Apart from saving money, it has been said that the use of gas in powering generators reduces the emission of carbon monoxide and makes the engine last longer. It saves the environment and minimises the risk in inhaling fumes.

However, members of the public are still very sceptical about the safety of running their generators with gas. Many are scared that there could be explosions and have decided not to convert their gasoline generators.

The silence of the government on the new development is not helping people in making informed decisions. Also, experts are not contributing to the discussion as the conversion is left in the hands of technicians and mechanics, who may not understand the pros and cons of the new idea.

According to him, he now saves half of what he usually spent on petrol daily for his 6KVa generator.

Bamiwola said he understands the concern for safety, noting, however, that the same gas used for cooking with flames in the kitchen could not become more dangerous when being used with generators outdoors.

Sulaimon Babatunde, a resident of Abeokuta, described it as safe and economical when he said: “It’s very safe and affordable, that’s what I have been using since five days ago and my 12kg gas has never finished.”

So far, the testimonies of those who are using LNG for their power generators have shown that they have been able to reduce what they usually spent in fueling their power generators, but the questions about safety remain unanswered by those who should know.

Expert speaks

A Mechanical Engineer in Ogun, Kolawole Ogunwemimo, said the use of gas for power generators is cheap, but it calls for caution.

Ogunwemimo stated that: “Leakages in Liquefied Petroleum Gas, LPG, are not easily noticed and are prone to explosion if not well handled and maintained.”

He explained that, “A converted petrol engine to LPG will have less efficiency because it was not originally designed for such fuel compared to an engine that is designed for such, though it might be more cost-effective than PMS.

“We must emphasise that they are prone to explosion if not well maintained and monitored. This is where the government should come in and enlighten the masses.”

Amid this discussion, some have suggested that Nigerians should embrace solar as their alternative source of energy, while they also call on the government to overhaul the power sector and save Nigerians from the hazards in seeking alternative power supply.

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