Thank you for your interest in the short term solutions to Nigeria’s Power Problem.
The solutions are not easy nor cheap.
Let us start by explaining the structures on ground that hinders such quick fix and how to side-track them to achieve quick power supply.
Nigeria presently operates a Centrally Coordinated National Grid that requires all power plants to supply their energy output at 330KV to the grid for nation-wide transmission and distribution.
The National Grid is presently operated by the Transmission Company of Nigeria( TCN : popularly called Transysisco).
TCN has 2 National Control Centers to manage the grid nationwide,
There are many advantages and disadvantages of operating a national grid but presently, its disadvantages are complicating the march towards electricity sufficiency.
A typical political fall-out of one of the disadvantages of the national grid is the “walk-out” order by the Edo State Governor on the management team from Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC) when they accompanied the Senate Committee On Power to his office.
He had quarreled that there exists a power station in Edo State generating hundreds of MegaWatts and yet Benin City, the State Capital and many major towns in Edo State had little or no power supplies for weeks.
Reason : Existence of a power station tied to the grid nearby does not guarantee you regular power supply.
The distribution of the energy produced by that power station is controlled and managed from the National Control Centre covering the whole country and not by the power station itself nor only to Edo State or Benin City.
Though the power station is in your area it has no relationship with the consumers there, its’ own sole-consumer is The Bulk Market Operator, today in Nigeria, that is TCN, Tranysisco.
That is, the present rules and regulations of NERC and the Bulk Market Operator does not allow ordinary consumers like me and you to buy electricity directly from a power station.
Only last year, 2018, the Honorable Minister For Power, Works !&! Housing rallied the various Discos to allow industrial consumers who can purchase bulk power to do so directly from nearby power stations, even if the Discos will still be the ones metering such consumption.
Additional allegation by the Governor of Edo State was that BEDC officials frustrated several attempts by the Edo State Government to purchase bulk electricity supply directly from a different independent power producer in the State.
Solutions to the disadvantages of the National Grid are to :
i. DECENTRALIZE The Operation of The National Grid into :
- Regional Grids and Interconnections.
Examples are The National Grid of The USA, which actually consists of 3-Main Regional Grids( The Western, The Eastern and The Texas Grid).
In the USA, there are hundreds of interconnections within or even outside these 3-Regional Grids, like the Alaskan Interconnection, the North-Eastern Interconnection running from Manitoba region in Canada right down to New York and New Jersey in the USA.
In Great Britain, the Central Electricity Generating Board( CEGB) has been privatized into The National Grid Plc with dozens of Independent Regional Grids owning private power stations supplying electricity and gas in their respective regions but interconnected to export surplus electricity to other regions.
[[[ Short-Term Solution in Nigeria]]]
The Discos on their own or in partnership with States and Local Governments should apply for Regional Grid Licence and build their own power stations and supply their areas of coverage directly with electricity supplies thereby forming a regional grid.
Interconnections to the National Grid will allow them sell any surplus electricity to other regions.
ii – Employ Captive Generation :
This is also called Embedded Generation.
Such are also called Auto-producers.
It is simply self-generation of Electricity for Industrial Layouts, Factories, Oil Companies, Banks, Church Camps, etc that are commercially bouyant to fund the installation of their own power plants independent of public supply from the National Grid.
They produce and consume their own electricity.
NERC codes now allows this Licence, provided you can produce upto 1MW or above. You do not need to sell the energy produced to the Grid.
It is purely for self- consumption.
Many industries in Nigeria already owns Standby Diesel Sets for occasional production runs but “Captive Generation” will demand that they upgrade to Gas or Steam Turbines running on Black oil or High Pour Flow Oil(HPFO) for full operations without any dependence on the Public Supply from the National Grid.
The savings in MegaWatts will then be available for low-income residential and commercial consumers.
To encourage this, Tax-Breaks can be granted to such companies to offset the cost of private corporate power generation.
iii. Employ DISTRIBUTED GENERATION :
This means a privately iniated power plant, be Diesel Sets, Gas or Steam Turbine-based, Solar panels or Wind-driven turbines to supply a fixed-group of loads outside the national grid.
These can be a Residential Estate, Office Complex or High Rise Tower, Church Camps, Oil Rigs, Refineries, Water-Works, Cement Plants, Fertilizer plants, etc that can produce power in excess of 1MW and above and sell to nearby loads.
NERC codes, rules !&! regulations now allow this after obtaining appropriate License.
Union Bank on the Marina, Lagos has this running for years in partnership with EKO Electricity Distribution Company supervising and metering the individual loads(companies/offices supplied by Union Bank Generators).
Also this is what runs presently at Redemption Camp, Mowe, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway where some Gas Turbine driven Generators supplies the CAMP and its subscribing(willing : Not compulsory) residents electricity supplies for an agreeable traffif.
So, in the final analysis, what is holding electricity development back in Nigeria is :
a- Lack of engineering foresight : poor planning(e.g. siting Gas Turbine Stations faraway from the source of gas supplies);
b- Lack of business will and vision :
few corporate entrepreneurs, including Discos, State !&! Local Govts are willing to take “the plunge” :
- : “too volatile : uncertain regulations”
- : “too risky : political landscape may change/reverse privatization”
- : “low yield(ROI) : too low traffif”, etc…
c- Lack of adequate funding : electricity industry is capital-intensive, banks cannot wait for long-term yields of 30, 40, or 50-years.
The maximum most Banks will support is 10 or 15-years Loan Tenures with high interest rates which will drive the Discos into bankruptcy.
d- The Federal, States, Local Govts and genuine technical investors( e.g. GE, SIEMENS, HITACHI, ALSTOM, ABB, etc) must form a stronger partnership with the Discos to resuscitate the electricity industry.
This requires another look, nay, an over-haul of NERC and the privatized power sector.
It is so vital, strategic and security-related to abandon it in the hands of political money-grabbers masquerading as “investors”.