Democratizing Energy: impact of energy efficiency at a Nigerian orphanage


Pulse Energy’s Director of Client Services, Harish Raisinghani, recently returned from helping to build a learning center at an orphanage in Lagos, Nigeria. The two-week trip was organized by a local group, Elite Vancouver, with sponsorship and support provided by individuals and organizations from Vancouver and Lagos.

Elite Vancouver volunteers (left to right): Harpreet Parmar, Monty Raisinghani, Harish Raisinghani, Clive D’Souza, Kemi Soyombo, (missing) Richa Sharma

Nigeria is Africa’s second-largest economy, with a GDP equal to Portugal, yet 70% of the population lives below the poverty line. Crude oil is the single largest sector, with 1.9 Mbbl of daily production representing over 90% of Nigeria’s exports. Electricity provision from the national utility is unreliable, leading to frequent and ongoing blackouts. Many people are left to rely on diesel generators, resulting in environmental damage and hazardous smog.

Issac Benjamin (Maintenance Manager) with Harish

The Light of Hope orphanage has four diesel generators, which power air conditioning, freezer units and lighting. The cost per kWh is approximately $0.40, or six times the cost of electricity in British Columbia. Purchasing enough diesel to run the generators consumes over half of the orphanage’s operating expenses, leaving little for expanding or even maintaining the facilities. Lower energy costs would make more money available to cover education and other expenses for the children.

Harish installed an energy meter to monitor the electrical supply from both the utility and on-site generators (pictured). Load tests were run to determine the impact of the eight air-conditioning units, which were generally run at full capacity regardless of occupancy.

The tests revealed that the units were consuming half of the orphanage’s electricity, far more than the staff predicted. The air-conditioners were tuned to 50% capacity and a few units were disconnected entirely, with minimal impact on the comfort levels in the classrooms. The world is full of meaningful energy saving opportunities, whether office buildings in Vancouver or an orphanage in Lagos. Harish would like to thank Elite Vancouver for organizing the trip, and all of the generous sponsors and supporters who made it possible.

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