7 September 2011, Sweetcrude, Abuja – Nigeria is to build three coal-fired power stations in Enugu, Kogi and Gombe states with the capacity to generate 3,000 megawatts so as to diversify electricity sources in the country.
Minister of Power, Professor Barth Nnaji, disclosed the plan at a briefing organised by the Federal Ministry of Information to mark the first 100 days of the President Goodluck Jonathan administration.
He said: “Not only does Nigeria have huge coal deposits in Enugu, Kogi, Gombe and Benue states, but we have the world’s cleanest type of coal.”
Though the government is spearheading the establishment of the new power stations, it was learnt that it will not own them outright, in line with the ongoing power sector reform.
The Federal Government will have about 25 per cent with state governments and private sector companies owning the rest of the coal-fired companies which may take about four years to complete.
On whether the Ministry of Power will revive the Oji River coal-powered generating station in Enugu State which was destroyed during the Nigerian Civil War in the 1960s, Prof. Nnaji said the dilapidated station was obsolete and produced a mere 35MW “which might have been appropriate for an era when many communities did not have electricity and when neither the population nor the economic activity in the country was as high as it is today.”
Nnaji disagreed with suggestion that the country could face criticism from the international community over coal-powered stations because of the environmental implications.
United States and South Africa, he noted, produce more electricity from coal than from any other source.
He said: “We do not expect the international community, including environmental groups, to display double standards so glaringly against us. In any case, ours is clean coal, far better than what obtains in many parts of the world, especially Europe.”
Coal from Enugu and Benue, in particular, has low ash and is of high calorific value while that of Kogi is friable, or easy to use to form smokeless coal bricket.