Power Plants Lose 1,552 Megawatts

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More than six months after the nation’s electricity generation dropped below 3,000 megawatts, output from the power plants is still 1,552MW lower than the peak achieved in February.

Power generation stood at 3,523.10MW as of 6am on Friday, September 2, 2016, up from 3,026.3MW on August 29, data from the System Operator showed.

The Transmission Company of Nigeria announced on February 2, 2016 that the nation had achieved its peak electricity generation of 5,074.70MW.

But the feat was short-lived as generation dropped below the 4,000MW mark later that month.

On March 1, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission said power supply through the national grid had dropped below 2,800MW due to vandalism.

Eight days after, power generation in the country fell to a record low of 1,580.6MW, a development that threw many parts of the country into blackout for days.

The downturn in power supply was exacerbated in May by the several attacks on oil and gas installations in the Niger Delta, which made generation plunge to a new low of 1,400MW on May 17, according to the TCN.

The nation’s power grid recorded 21 collapses in the first half of the year – 16 total and five partial collapses.

The latest system collapse (partial) was recorded on July 10, according to data from the National Control Centre.

More than half of the nation’s power plants are currently facing gas shortage, with unutilised electricity generation capacity due to gas constraints put at 3,988.3MW as of August 29.

The country generates the bulk of its electricity from gas-fired power plants, while output from hydro-power plants makes up about 30 per cent of the total generation.

In what was a big blow to electricity generation in the country, Shell’s Forcados export terminal was hit in February, forcing the oil major to declare force majeure on the exports of the crude oil grade.

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, in its financial and operations’ report recently said, “The nation has lost over 1,500MW of power supply to the damage as gas supply from Forcados, which is Nigeria’s major artery, accounts for 40 to 50 per cent of gas production. Incessant pipeline vandalism poses the greatest threat to the industry.”

Industry experts have continued to highlight the need for a robust energy mix by exploring renewable energy resources including solar and wind.

An energy expert and Partner, Bloomfield Law Practice, Mr. Ayodele Oni, said, “I understand that a number of Nigerians are partnering companies providing cutting-edge energy solutions such as solar systems that are run on computerised platforms.

“I believe that if the government provides the enabling environment for the foregoing, less emphasis will be placed on gas pipelines and vandalism should reduce.”

A former Minister of Power and Chief Executive Officer, Geometric Power Limited, Prof. Barth Nnaji, said the country should diversify its sources of power generation to ensure sustainable fuel supply.

“We have not touched coal. We have a lot of coal in the country,” he said at a public lecture in Lagos last month.

Nnaji added, “The US produces about 40 per cent of its one million megawatts of electricity from coal, while China produces 60 per cent of its electricity from coal. We have coal here but we are not making use of it. Even the natural gas that we have, are we really producing the gas? It is certainly not enough. Hydro is another source.”

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