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Embedded generation will improve electricity supply -Energy expert

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Adebayo Obajemu

 

Dr Ambali Tanimu, an experienced energy expert and former lecturer at the department of electrical engineering, Bayero University has said authorities should give more consideration to embedded generation policy in view of current challenges DISCOs are facing, which has resulted in a shortfall in power supply to customers. He said the embedded system has capacity to improve power supply, even to remote sites.

Speaking exclusively with EnergyDay, he said the Nigeria’s modern grid system actually started in 1951, with the integration of all government and native-owned generating plants and systems by the Electricity Corporation of Nigeria (ECN).  He said at the  time, this improved the electric power supply within the country through grid connection of electricity generation, transmission, and distribution, , ” but over the years, due to population explosion and the lack of investments in power sector by successive governments, the system has degenerated as demand  has significantly outgrown supply.

He noted that the poor performance of Nigeria’s previously state-controlled power sector, has led to   unstable electricity supply and frequent power outages. The situation has improved little since privatisation of much of the power sector in recent years, even with continued government subsidies for some users, but he stated that even at that the current situation can not drive growth, economic growth.

He advised that now that the country is  faced with dwindling income due mainly to the collapse of global oil prices, the government has the challenge of convincing frustrated electricity consumers that they must accept substantial increase in prices if Nigeria is to achieve a constant, stable, and nationwide electricity supply.

He listed the challenges in the sector to  include infrastructure constraints; insufficient end-user tariffs/pricing; inability to reduce aggregate technical, commercial, and collection (ATC&C) losses; sectoral cash shortfalls; debts, electricity theft, and the non-payment culture of the public.

Speaking further he hinted that inspite of  huge investments by public and private sectors in recent years, the nation has not been able to deliver  reasonable power supply to its citizens. According to him, the  Nigerian population is greater than 183 million people, out of which 55 per cent have no access to grid-connected electricity.

Access to electricity in rural areas is about 35 per cent compared to about 55 per cent in urban areas, he noted.

He averred that in view of this challenge, stakeholders in the nation’s electricity industry   adopted the embedded generation concept as an urgent immediate strategy to procure electricity for customers, while waiting for national grid power to improve significantly.

Embedded generation , according to him, is electricity generation directly connected to and evacuated through a distribution system, instead of the high voltage national grid. It aims at creating a fair, competitive, and transparent market for all generators, as well as meeting the energy demand through minimal environmental impact.

He said  embedded generation would require more active distribution networks which allow electricity to flow to the electricity user for consumption in the homes or businesses and to the network when the user is exporting excess generation capacity.

In pursuing this requirement, Regulation 6 of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (Embedded Generation) Regulation 2012 (NERCER) provides that a distribution licence holder is expected to make access to the distribution system available to the embedded generation licence holder where there is capacity after reaching an agreement on acceptable conditions with the embedded generation license holder.

He advised stakeholders to pursue the option, adding that the integration of distributed sources into existing networks is becoming a viable option in modern power system networks, considering its numerous advantages such as: cost saving due to onsite production which avoids transmission and distribution costs and consequently, a 30 per cent saving in the cost of delivered electricity. Onsite energy production also reduces loss of generated power through transmission and distribution.

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