21 October 2012, Sweetcrude, Enugu – An electrical engineer, Sebastine Chinonye Omeh, the Managing Director of Hybrid Micro Machine Products Limited, from Ogrute town in Igbo-Eze North Local Government Area of Enugu State, Nigeria, has, at his research site in Eungu, concluded research into the use of wind-propelled turbines to generate electricity, thereby pioneering wind energy technology in Nigeria.
“We started with the smallest of 5 kilowatts after which we did 12 kilowatts, then 20 kilowatts, etc. And now we have 75 kilowatts. This one you are looking at now is the latest in our series, capable of generating 75 kilowatts of electricity, while mounted on a tower of 15 metres altitude,” Omeh disclosed.
The Managing Director admitted that the cost of the Research so far, had been enormous, such that one cannot sit down and calculate, especially the procurment of materials for the construction of the essential parts of the turbine, such as blades and towers, in addition to the purchase of a land space of more than 40 plots.
He said the total sum of money spent so far, stood at about one hundred million naira (#100m).
Omeh disclosed that, his passion for development of technology to address humsn needs made him venture into research on Wind Energy as a possible source of electricity – a decision he said, was borne out of concern over the epileptic power supply in the country from the other already known sources, such as hydro and thermal generation.
On the level of advancement made into the Research and costs incurred so far, Omeh declared that they have virtually concluded, developed and tested different models.
“This place where you are, the Hybrid Research Centre, was purposely set up for research and development of wind energy. The hopeless situation in Nigeria, regarding electricity generation and supply, touched me so deeply and challenged me to go into this research. The main job of an engineer is to solve man’s problems and we chose to begin with wind for the generation of electricity.”
Describing how this process works, Omeh began with the definition of wind energy as simply “the energy possessed by moving the air mass”.
He continued, “the energy possessed by wind is usually in the form of kinetic energy, but when in contact with wind turbine blade, is transformed into rotational mechanical energy. The mechanical energy is transmitted via the drive system to the wind turbine generator which performs the final conversion to electrical energy”.
He added that the technology is simple, but robust with the only source being the wind, which is clean, abundant, free and renewable.
Omeh identified two types of wind turbine as, the vertical axis wind turbine and the horizontal axis wind turbine; vertical and horizontal simply indicating the orientation (positioning/direction) of the wind turbine rotor axis.
Recalling how he eventually plunged into the research project, the managing director said, “our most immediate need then, was land, since such Research required a large space. Then again, was the need to move away from the noise of the city and its associated encumberances, such as all sorts of distractions.
We actually started in Lagos at NO 11 Timilehin Street, Leko-Ikpaja, Ikpaja Local Government Area.
We started the research there, but the size of land we have there, was not spacious enough and also we had close neighbours here and there, but the Wind Project does not permit such.”
He said that this led them to go out in search of a bigger space, revealing that the present site, which measures 3.2 acres (more than 40 plots), and quite removed from the Coal City Centre, away from noise, was the ideal place dreamed of.
Omeh, who graduated in electrical engineering at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka in 1989, had, soon after graduation, decided to do himself and the society a favour through self-employment and engagement in activities related to his field of study.
Apparently elated by his achievements, born out of sheer courage and ambition, Omeh told SweetCrude Reports, friday, at his Research Centre located at kilometre 10, Enugu-Abakaliki Express way, Akpoja Nike, near Emene, Enugu, how he had begun, after floating his company, with the supply and maintenance of transmission equipment in the broadcast industry.
Broadcast organisations that have benefitted from his company’s servives include the Anambra Broadcasting Service, the Kogi Radio, the BRTV, Maidugri, etc.
According to him, “when we formed the company initially, we had a market in the broadcast industry. We promptly re-activated and resurrected a lot of the equipment that were abandonded due to obsolete parts and cloned some components that could replace the hard-to find obsolete ones”.