29 January 2015, Lagos – As Nigeria’s dependence on natural gas for most of its power generation continues to be threatened by frequent reported cases of vandalism of oil and gas infrastructure, the need for a diversified power generation mix has been stressed.
Over the years, the country has relied on gas-fired power plants for 70 per cent of power supply, but the increasing spate of gas pipeline vandalism has reinforced the need to explore alternative energy sources such as renewable energy.
For instance, the Trans Forcados Pipeline, which supplies gas to several power plants in the country, was said to have been vandalised four times this month, leading to downturn in power supply in parts of the country.
Industry analysts have said that Nigeria has yet to tap its abundant coal resource and renewable energy including solar power.
The Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo, while speaking with journalists in Lagos last weekend, said, “We have to think out of the box. We can’t continue to do business as usual, and that is why we are even going solar. It is very critical for us.
“Vandalism is taking a toll on us. A situation where our own compatriots vandalised the oil and gas pipelines, especially the gas pipelines that supply gas to the power stations, since 70 per cent of all of our power generation is from gas-fired turbines and 30 per cent is from hydro. We have not been doing coal, we have not been doing renewable; we have not been doing biomass, so we really are hamstrung. So government is now working on diversifying to make sure that we have a good, robust fuel mix,” he said.
The minister said more licences had been issued to investors who are interested in generating electricity through coal and solar power, adding that the government was working towards generating 10 per cent of the country’s electricity from coal.
He said work was in progress to ensure that both Jebba and Kainji hydroelectric power stations returned to their initial capacities. “We also are working on about one dozen small and medium hydros including Kashimbila that is almost ready and will soon be inaugurated.
“More important for Nigeria is solar power because every part of Nigeria is amenable to solar power and even biomass. Look at the kind of waste generated in Lagos, Kano, Port Harcourt, Enugu, Kaduna and in Ibadan. We can aggregate these things and put small plants here and there, fix them directly to the distribution network. That is what is called embedded generation and distributed power.”
“In addition to that, President Jonathan flagged off the Zungeru Hydro Power project on May 28, 2013. A lot of work is already going on there right now. That will add 700Mw to the national grid, and he will soon flag off the Mambilla Hydro Power project that will add 3,050MW when completed,” Nebo said.
He said they were already working on a policy that would drive investment in renewable energy.
“Nigeria didn’t have renewable energy policy. We have now finished our draft. So the policy coming out is Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Policy for the country. I have defended it before the Economic Management Implementation Team. It is being perfected and will soon be approved,” said Nebo.
– The Punch