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Fix power grid to avoid crisis, experts task FG

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Oredola Adeola

 

Experts in the Nigerian power sector have called on the Federal Government to urgently tackle the challenges posed by the adoption of concept of national grid for power distribution in the country.

They said Nigerians are under pressure to completely abandon the national grid to generate electricity for themselves through adoption of available energymix solutions.

Adding that unless urgent steps are taken to address electricity distribution crisis, the economic growth and development of the nation will be stalled.

This was the submission of panelists at specialist hub session of the just concluded Energy Sustainability Conference organised by the Energy Institute in Lagos State.

The electricity stakeholders while speaking on the topic: Building Nigeria’s Energy Ecosystem, revealed that the Nigerian government, between 1999 and 2010, reportedly spent over N4.7 trillion on power.

It was established that between 2011 and 2019, former President Goodluck Jonathan’s and President Muhammadu Buhari’s administrations, invested another N1.164 trillion, through capital releases. Despite this, the country has barely managed to share around 4000 MW out of 12,500 installed generation capacity of electricity to the citizens.

EnergyDay gathered that President Buhari, between 2015 and 2020 reportedly spent over N240 billion, on five power plants, including the Odukpani (NIPP), Geregu I, Afam IV&V, Geregu II (NIPP), and Rivers IPP and others, for electricity they neither generated nor put into the grid for the use of consumers.

The Federal Government in the 2021 budget alone, earmarked the sum of N152.416 billion to these power generation companies through Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading, NBET.

Based on the assumption that about 43 percent out of over 200 millions of Nigerians have no access to electricity, the panelists noted that only 3000MW to 4000MW out of 12,500 MW installed national grid generation gets to the estimated 60 percent of the population.

This, according to them is despite trillions of Naira spent by the government from 2019 till date. They however charged the government to wake up to its responsibility of eradicating energy poverty facing the country.

They warned that the situation that befell the country’s Water Corporation may likely happen to the Nigerian Electricity supply industry, as Nigerians are under pressure to completely abandon the national grid to generate electricity for themselves through adoption of available energymix solutions.

Habeeb Alebiosu, CEO/ Co-founder, Viathan Engineering Limited, operator of Nigeria’s largest integrated distribution energy utility, who moderated the panel session, revealed that the operators in the energy ecosystem in Nigeria have realised the need to synergise to build ring that combines renewable and non renewable energy generation for sustained energy availability, to the deal with the energy poverty in the country.

He noted that about 60 percent of Nigerians with access to power only enjoys average of 4hours per day electricity with 144 kwh per capita annually, adding that the situation is worse when compared with Ghanaians who consume 621.51 kWh per capita annually, for estimated 32millions people.

He said, “Nigerians are likely to start adopting sustainable and available energy sources at whatever price to provide power to run their homes and establishments.

“There is need for interface between the Transmission Company of Nigeria and the electricity distribution companies (DisCos) to fix distribution assets that have affected power distribution across the country.

“It is demeaning to realise that out of 12,500MW of electricity produced by the Generation company, about more than 7000MW is wasted,” Habeeb noted.

As part of solution to addressing the energy crisis, Habeeb revealed that the power sector must be cost reflective, adding that both public and private sector must agree to some compromises in the area of policy to fix power infrastructure especially at the distribution end.

He however noted that stakeholders including government must ensure that energy generation is diversified and decentralised to increase supply. The strategy according to him, should be to increase renewable energy supply to atleast 23 percent in 2025 and 36% in 2030.

Anita Omoile, CEO , DeepBlue Energy Service Limited, a co-panelist, said as a result of the trust deficit between the Nigerians and Government, the citizens are desperately looking for available means of generating electricity themselves.

She observed that Nigerian presently self-generation nearly 14Giga Watts of power for homes and industries, adding that market forces will soon drive consumers and investors in the direction of off-grid renewable energy.

She said, “Major issues evolve around transparency amongst the electricity market suppliers. Billing issues have been a major challenge as Nigerians are forced to pay for what they don’t consume.

She said that it is cost-effective for Nigerians to consider renewable energy options, in view of the high cost of diesel, petrol and the unreliability of utility power.

According to her, fluctuations in electricity supply by the utility companies has paved the way for solar power, particularly for households, companies and small industries.

Mr.Kelechi Eke, Asset Manager, Egbin Power Plc, said the Nigerian energy capacity is high but funding capacity is very low. He however suggested that for the country to end its energy poverty it has to deploy varieties of energy mixes to end its energy poverty.

Kelechi stated that there is need to upscale local capacity to harness potentials in the energy industry, adding that institutions and government needs to evolve strategies to deliver capacity needed in the electricity industry.

Yesufu Alonge, Business Development Director, Gobeleq Power Solution Nigeria Ltd, said failure of the government to fix the national grid has necessitated the need for Nigerians to adopt available opportunities in the renewable energy space to end energy poverty.

He said, “ Nigerian government does not have capacity to solve the infrastructural issues facing the power sector. This is evident in the trillions of Naira that have been sunk in the power sector since 2013.

“We need to decentralise grid generation, embrace embedded generation and franchising to provide sustainable electricity to Nigerians. We must realise that electricity is not cheap, so tariff must be cost-reflective.

“If Government is to be taken serious, all the various players in the industry must be engaged and provided with funds and better environment to fix the power infrastructure right. Until this is done, Nigerians will continue to doubt the capacity of national grid to provide power in their homes,” the Gobeleq Power Director said.

Alonge further noted that the typical conversation about the expensive nature of solar power equipment has changed, adding that solar alternatives are becoming cheaper and attractive, coupled with opportunity for local production of solar panels and other equipment.

The power stakeholders however concluded that all the players in the power sector have obligations to diversify generation in order to the country’s energy deficit.

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