Power Sector Records 213 Systems Collapse, Blackout in 9yrs

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The electric power sector in Nigeria has experienced 213 systems collapse that caused severe nationwide outages in the last nine years, industry data have shown.

Figures from log records on systems collapse from the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) show that 141 Total systems collapse occurred during the period with another 72 Partial collapse of the national grid.

There are also fears that the cases of collapse which went down in 2015 could be rising at present. In the first six months of 2017, 12 Total collapses and two Partial collapses had been recorded on the grid.

The worst year in the period was 2009 when the grid crashed 39 times. It had 19 Total collapses, throwing the nation to a complete blackout and 20 Partial collapses, indicating a loss of power across a section of the national electricity grid.

The months of June to August were worst hit in the year as they recorded over four Total collapses, while February and March were worst for the Partial collapses.

Year 2015 was adjudged to be the best so far as the cases of collapse dropped to just 10 occurrences. May was the worst month in the year with two Total collapses and two Partial collapses that lasted for hours.

Further breakdown of the data revealed that 42 collapses occurred in 2010. There was a downward trend from 2011 with 19 occurrences. It, however, shut up to 24 incidences by 2012 and 2013.

The downward trend was restored again as 13 incidences were reported in 2014, with just 10 in 2015.

However, it took a bad turn as occurrences more than doubled to 28 last year. There were 22 Total collapses that caused severe outages and fluctuations in voltage.

Six Partial collapses were also recorded in 2016 when authorities in the power sector lamented vandalism on critical oil and gas infrastructure. The national grid was also brought low to 2,000mw in the period, thereby triggering nationwide blackout that often lasts for hours whenever they occur.

In January this year, former Managing Director of TCN, Engr. Atiku Tambuwal Abubakar, said the public utility firm could not assure of stable transmission once the national grid was below 3,500mw electricity generation.

Engr. Atiku, who spoke at a management retreat, said the systems collapse that occurred in early 2017 was due to low generation that tripped off the transmission system and caused pockets of outages.

He said once power generation dipped below 3,500mw, there was no guarantee for the prevention of systems collapse.

From TCN records, the 10 per cent spinning reserve that helps to stabilise transmission system is often lacking due to the acute low generation which results in grid instability and power cut.

TCN recorded over six systems collapse in January alone. Mr. Atiku gave an instance of the last collapse in the month, saying it happened because the grid dropped to 2,700mw power generation and later to 912mw.

He said the instability tripped off the Shiroro Hydropower-Kaduna transmission line, and 300mw was lost with hours of power cut.

Atiku, who oversaw the operations of TCN since August 2016 after the contract for expatriate Manitoba Hydro International (MHI) ended, said if gas was available, Nigeria could generate and smoothly transmit 5,300mw due to completed TCN projects like the Ugwuaji-Makurdi-Jos transmission loop.

“Water and adequate gas supply pose serious problems of planning; especially at the Generation Companies (GenCos),” Atiku said.

The last collapse, which was total, happened in May and lasted for over one hour across the 11 DisCos, industry operators said.

However, with the new administration of TCN under the Interim Managing Director, Usman Gur Mohammed, the system seems to be stabilising as there is no report of collapse in June 2017.

Mohammed, in a statement, said TCN collaborated with the GenCos to implement a frequency control strategy, ‘Free Governor Control’ since May 22, which had helped to stabilise the national grid and in turn enabled the company achieve a very high level of stability and reliability in the grid.

TCN announced on June 20 that for the first time in the last 20 years, the national grid maintained frequency stability for 24 consecutive hours as at June 14.

Mohammed lauded the GenCos for complying with the Grid Code rule, which requires them to maintain the required frequency control.

He said in spite of the sudden loss of about 1,000mw on June 4, 2017, the system was able to withstand it without any collapse, even as many distribution feeders tripped off during a downpour.

Having achieved this milestone, TCN said it was working assiduously to maintain the trend and also to further improve and stabilise the grid’s frequency.

“TCN is working with the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) on the provision of required incentives for GenCos to provide enough spinning reserve. The company is also committed to implementing all other actions that would lead to sustained system stability,” he said.

Source: Daily Trust

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