Although Nigeria, at the weekend, hit a new power generation peak of 5,895 Mega Watt (MW), about 2000mw of the feat will not translate to power supply for millions of Nigerians. ADEOLA YUSUF reports
Power generation, on Friday, December 15, peaked at 5895 Mega Watts (MW), highest level in Nigeria’s history.
While some Nigerians were basked in euphoria over the good news, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola, declared that about 2, 000 MW of the generation was still idle.
Checks, however, showed that the generation surge would face many hurdles.
The unused power being suffered by Nigeria has hit 2000MW.
Fashola, who disclosed this penultimate Monday, maintained that even with 5155 MW all-time high, power generation still fell short of the 7000 MW generation capacity.
“As at Tuesday 5th of December 2017, the peak supply reached 5,019 MW, which was below the 5,074 MW we achieved in January 2016,” he said in an address at the December edition of power sector stakeholders’ meeting.
He continued: “However, on Friday 8th December, 2017, grid supplied power peaked at an all-time high of 5,155 MW, over the January 2016 figure of 5,074 MW.
“It is a major milestone in our journey of incremental power and if we keep our feet on the ground and we remain focused and unexcited, we will improve on it, and hopefully get to the second leg of our journey, which is steady power.
“No one person can claim individual credit for this progress. It is the product of teamwork starting from the leadership provided by President Buhari, many people in government and in your companies who the public will never see, but all of whom I salute for their service; and of course the hard work by all of you.
“While I value the work that you have done, I will implore you to remember that Nigerians expect more and there is still a lot of hard work ahead.
“The fact that we can produce over 7,000 MW and can now only put over 5,000 MW on the grid means that we have 2,000 MW of unused power left in a country where many still require power.”
Stating that this was “a new problem that we must resolve,” the minister maintained, “we must get that 2,000 MWout to the people who need it, because more power is coming in 2018 from places like Azura (450 MW); Katsina wind (10 MW); Gbarain (115 MW); Kashimbilla (40 MW); Afam III (240 MW); Gurara (30 MW); Dadin Kowa (29 MW); and Kaduna (215 MW) to mention a few.”
All of these do not, according to him, include mini-grids and solar systems that are in various stages of development.
This may appear to be a lot of work. Yes, that is one way to see it.
“But I see it as a momentous opportunity and privilege to be part of a revolution that will change the course of Nigeria irreversibly for the better.
“If you see it this way, you will brace yourself for the exciting journey that lies ahead to solve the problem of lack of meters, estimated billing, and other service related issues.
“You will be in a position to put a smile on the faces of Nigerians who trust in our ability as a government and a team to deliver on their power expectations.
“This part of the journey requires us to think about what we can do individually and collectively about how to make it better.
“It requires us to jettison our fixed positions and prejudices; it requires us to offer solutions not disagreements and to demonstrate a willingness to try out new things.
“Therefore, as we set out on this new phase of our exciting journey, permit me to address some of the things we must do quickly from now into the new year of 2018 and beyond.
“On Thursday, 7 December 2017, I was listening to a radio programme where a small business operator was discussing her fish business and the problems she was encountering.
“She was one of the many people whose lives President Buhari is committed to changing for the better.
“As you would expect, she complained about power supply but she did not say where she was or where her business is located.
“This is happening at a time when, as I have announced, that we are now able to produce up to 7,000 MW of power and able to transport a similar capacity.
“It happened 48 hours after we successfully reached the peak supply of 5,019 MW put on the grid and distributed on 5th December 2017 and before the peak of 5,155MW.
“It happened while the mini grid summit, the largest ever attended in Africa, with 600 participants from about 40 countries holding in Abuja, was coming to its closing stages to decide how to deploy mini grid electric supply to those unserved and under-served places and small businesses in Nigeria.
“It showed clearly that there is a gulf between the location of the need and the location of supply.
“If we can produce 7,000 MW but we can only distribute about 5,000 MW, the problem has changed from lack of power to locating where the need is and designing a solution that takes the balance of 2,000 MW to those who need it, who can use it and who can pay for it.
“We must act to build the bridge that connects this gulf of supply and demand.
“That bridge is a bridge of data and information about finding the location of the businesses and industries that need power and getting the 2,000 MW that is waiting for deployment to them.
“The conversation clearly must change from there is no power, to what needs to be done to connect to the 2,000 MW that is available, and the additional power, which will come into production in 2018.
“I have taken the first steps towards collecting the data.”
Threat to grid
Away from 2000 MW idle power, the total system collapse of Nigeria’s old-fashioned national power grid is imminent, investigation by New Telegraph revealed at the weekend.
The installations built many decades ago was on Friday subjected to biggest pressure in its decades of existence as the country’s power generation peaked at 5895 MW, highest level in Nigeria’s history. It had, a week earlier, hit 155MW.
The Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), operator of the grid, had announced the peak generation on its Twitter handle on Saturday, maintaining that the attainment of new peak of national power generation 5155 megawatts was recorded on Friday 8th December.
“This records of peak , national power generation surpasses the earlier records of 5074 megawatts of power attained on 2nd February , 2016 by TCN,” the tweet read as Managing Director of TCN, Mr. Usman Gur Mohammed, commended all the stakeholders in the power sector value chain for the huge success recorded.
This news, a management staff at the Oshogbo centre of the grid told this newspaper, is a mixed grill for the transmission company, which has already begun covet operation in preparation for the system collapse.
“The grid has an installed capacity, which is far less than the new generation peak and what all engineers here know is that you put installations of this nature at great risk anytime you overload them with above-capacity electricity; you have, by doing this, subjected them to pressure and because they are machine, what you put in them is what you get.
“The grid will definitely react to the high load on it and everyone within the cycle is prepared for collapse of the grid any moment,” he said after his anonymity was guaranteed.
The last time the national power grid suffered a total system collapse was in September 28, 2017.
Before this, Nigeria’s electricity transmission grid had suffered 39 cases of major partial collapse in the last 30 months, New Telegraph learnt.
The incident was climaxed with four partial collapses in 12 weeks.
Although the Federal Government has privatised the generation and distribution strata of electricity and handed their assets over to new owners, the grid is still under government’s control due to its ownership of the transmission system. The Federal Government is still engaged mainly in maintenance of the national grid, which is due for overhaul.
Nigeria’s power supply dropped in June by 14 per cent as the nation’s national grid experienced its latest systems collapse.
Before this, another system collapse occurred on May 8, 2017, culminating in significant drop in generation, transmission and distribution of
electricity to many parts of the nation.
The nation, investigations showed, also recorded two system collapse incidents last April, which also affected supply to consumers.
The grid, which was built with capacity to retain about 4,000 MW, an engineer with the TCN) told this newspaper, is “currently over-laboured” by the new peak in power transmission.
“One of the measures put in place to shift the doomsday for the national power grid is the advice given to power generation firms to reduce generation anytime they attain their peak production,” he said.
TCN had said that for the first time in the last 20 years, it maintained grid frequency stability within the operating band of 49.5Hz to 50.5Hz for 24 consecutive hours.
Interim Managing Director of TCN, Usman Gur Mohammed, who said this, maintained that this milestone, which was achieved on the 14th of June, 2017, was a key pointer to the gradual and consistent improvement in the stability of the nation’s transmission grid.
The TCN management, the engineer said, was, however, aware of the danger to its achievements in the last three weeks and had deployed engineers “to ensure that the good news on the power transmission is not short-lived.”
Although the system operations (SO) of TCN had secured spinning reserve contracts of 295mw to provide stability and cushion the system in the event of a sudden load/generation changeover, the facility, which is cardinal to electricity megawatts (MW) storage and transmission, he said, “was built some decades ago and is in dire need of total overhaul.”
TCN confirmed that the grid had, before the latest four cases, earlier suffered 35 failures in two-and-a-half years. It, however, said that the collapse was majorly caused by gas supply and not necessarily transmission constraints.
The company said in a statement to relay the incidents that it only suffered four system collapses in the first two quarters of 2015.
Two of the four incidents, the statement read, occurred in May and resulted in low generation of about 1,400 megawatts (mw).
The document also explained that most of the collapses came from shortages in gas supply and not necessarily from transmission constraints.
“It is public knowledge that the frequency of system collapses has been going down drastically following several equipment and infrastructure upgrade by TCN besides aggressive capacity building of the system operators,” it read, noting that in 2013, there were 22 instances of system collapse and in 2014, this was drastically brought down to nine.
The system operation (SO) of TCN has secured spinning reserve contracts of 295 mw to provide stability and cushion the system in the event of a sudden load/ generation changeover, the company said.
It, however, did not disclose the details of the spinning reserve contract, especially the particulars of the generation outfit that had been contracted for the spinning reserve. But it added the TCN would continue to work at enhancing the transmission capacity and reliability of the national grid in order to provide improved and sustainable power delivery to public electricity distribution companies in the country.
The Federal Government should crush the hurdles that prevent the higher power generation from translating to high power supply.
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