Concerns Over Dependence On Gas-Fired Power Plants

With over 197 trillion standard cubic feet of gas, Nigeria, no doubt has not done bad in using the natural endowment to power its economy and add value to the lives of the citizens.

It’s predicted that the nation’s gas deposit could soar astronomically to 600 trillion standard cubic feet if it deepens its search for the natural endowment.

One of the ways Nigeria has used gas to add value to the economy is through gas-fired power plants for the generation of electricity in the country.

But there is a mounting campaign against the dependence on the sole energy source as well as advocacy for the government to match its words with action on the diversification of the country’s energy sources.

Recently, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission has expressed concern about the over-dependence on gas-fired power plants for the generation of electricity in the country.

The commission, in its latest quarterly report, said gas-fired thermal plants dominated the electricity generation mix, accounting for 81 per cent of the energy generated in the first quarter of this year.

It said: “This implies that approximately 4kWh of every 5kWh of electricity generated in Nigeria in the first quarter of 2018 came from gas. The share of hydro-generation decreased from 23 per cent to 19 per cent between the two quarters.”

According to the regulator, the recorded decline in electricity generated from hydropower plants is attributed to seasonal factor and turbine pit flooding incident in Shiroro dam.

The nation has three hydropower plants, namely Kainji, Jebba, and Shiroro, while 24 are gas-fired.

“The commission is concerned that the apparent over-dependence on gas-fired/thermal plants may pose supply risk for the Nigerian electricity industry as vandalism of gas pipelines could result in the total shutdown of the grid,” NERC said in the report.

It said during the first quarter of 2018, available generation capacity rose by three percent to 7,477 megawatts but just 53 percent of the available capacity was utilised.

The regulator stated, “This implies that approximately 47 per cent of the available capacity was stranded during the first quarter of 2018 due to a combination of factors including inadequate gas supply, limitation in transmission and distribution networks, and water management.

“There was a noticeable increase in gas constraint during the quarter under review, relative to the last quarter of 2017. Specifically, the generation capacity constraints due to gas supply increased from a daily average of 541MW during the fourth quarter of 2017 to 1,925.4MW in the first quarter of 2018.”

It noted that gas shortage in the quarter was exacerbated by a fire incident on the Escravos Lagos Pipeline of the Nigerian Gas Processing and Transportation Company Limited, which affected six thermal power plants, including Egbin, Omotosho and Olorunsogo plants.

It said: “Also, during the quarter, some generation companies including Geregu experienced the high quantity of condensate in the pipeline, limiting the quantity of usable gas supplied to them.

“Noticeably, the decline in electricity generation due to gas constraint was very significant when compared to the constraints attributed to poor transmission and distribution networks. These latter factors respectively accounted for 84.3MW and 452.3MW of stranded capacity while water management accounted for 134MW.”

Comrade Chris Okwonkwo, president of Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Companies (SSEAC) told our correspondent  that although Nigeria has huge natural gas deposit which is being used for electricity generation and other economic use, it does not suggest that the country should rely on the sole energy source whole hog.

He said Nigeria’s dependence on gas fired plants was fueled by Former President Olusegun Obasanjo,who built National Independent Power Projects, which were not well consummated due to faulty managerial decision

To him, the country needs to urgently consider a back to the gas source of energy by aggressively pursuing alternative energy sources with a view to ensuring efficient power supply in the country.

Comrade Chinedu Bosah, Coordinator, Coalition for Affordable and Regular Electricity (CARE) also told our correspondent that Nigeria could no longer afford to depend on gas-fired plants to generate electricity due to its environmental and safety issues.

“Any serious government should now be considering how the country would depend less on gas fired plants in view of the global warming crisis .The  Federal Government should consider diversifying the nation’s source to wind ,sun and other alternative energy sources that could pose less risks to the citizens,”

The Minister of Power Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, had last year declared that gas alone cannot solve Nigeria’s electricity challenges.

He said that efforts are in place to encourage embedded power adding that work is in progress to revive other sources of power generation, rather than the current dependency on gas-to-power.

The Ministry has advised electricity distribution companies, DISCOs, to invest in embedded generation in the areas of their franchise.

He added that coal should form a large part of the country’s future electricity mix because gas alone cannot tackle the decline in power generation.

According to him, “I am pleased to say that the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading, NBET, is working on a suitable tariff for coal-to-power that will form the basis of a Power Purchase Agreement, PPA.

He further said: “Although you may not see it, but it is at the point of negotiating tariff with power providers that Government, through NBET and Nigeria Electricity Regulation Commission, NERC, begins to protect the interest of consumers.

The minister added, “Gas is our most reliable source of power, yes, but it is only one solution among many other under-utilised solutions.”

He noted that Nigeria has no coal-fired power plants and negligible coal production, though it has coal reserves in Kogi, Benue and Enugu states, according to recent data.

The government he said, projected that coal is expected to generate 1,000 Megawatt, MW, of power by 2020 to supplement other fuels currently used in power generation.

 

Source: Daily Independence

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