As power supply drops
The latest collapse in electricity supply has, once again, exposed the futility of the efforts been made since 1999 to revive the power sector and boost the economy. That energy scarcity has practically grounded Nigeria, made life unbearable for the people and crippled the economy is not in doubt.
Frequent drop in electricity supply has worsened the near total national blackout. And there seems to be no stable framework for managing Nigeria’s energy sector.
According to reports, the national electricity grid recorded another collapse that led to the drop of power generation from over 3, 000 MW.Coming at a time the Federal Government reportedly signed the Put and Call Option Agreement with two power firms – Afrinergia and CT Cosmos, for the construction of 50 MW and 70 MW solar power plants, respectively, the drastic drop in power supply is most embarrassing.
The collapse, reports say, was caused by heavy torrential rainfall at the transmission stations, which led to load reduction that prompted high frequency in the system, a development that triggered the collapse of the electricity grid.Although, this is the first collapse to be recorded in this second quarter, reports indicate that the country’s electricity grid collapsed 10 times in the first quarter of this year.
There is no doubt that Nigerians are overwhelmed by the ugly turn of events as far as electricity is concerned. The end, they say, justifies the means. Since 1999, the country’s focus has, among others, been on breaking the jinx of poor power supply. The target has been to have steady electricity supply in the country. But the means to achieving that seems to be flawed; hence, there has been little success.
Questions are being raised as to what sort of decisions and actions were taken or channeled into the energy sector over these years that cannot show the much more improvement given the huge funds already expended.
Rather than improvement, the energy sector continues to be a problem, leaving the economy in a virtual lockdown. Businesses and institutions have shut down on account of epileptic power.
Quite often, all the key power plants in the country, including Egbin, Utorogu, Chevron Oredo, Oben gas-fired power plants, Ughelli and Chevron Escravos power plant shut down at the same time. This is shocking, indeed; unbelievable.
Nigeria’s power generation is largely dependent on gas transported through exposed pipelines that are easily vandalised in the restive Niger Delta region. But it needs to be stated that not even at the height of restiveness in 2008/2009, when militants were blowing up oil facilities, did power drop to the present level.
The low electricity generation has also been blamed on lack of gas to power the turbines. Contrary to the popular belief, the Chief Executive of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), the other day, said there was enough gas to generate 8, 000 MW of electricity but the transmission grid could not support such quantum of power without complications.
That raises many questions. Could this be sabotage? Nigerians expected change after the All Progressives Congress (APC) took over government from the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in 2015. But there has been no significant change.
So far, Nigeria has put all her eggs in one basket. Vandalisation of gas pipelines in the Niger Delta is a lucrative business that can’t easily be stopped. It is good enough that government is exploring alternative energy sources with inroad into solar energy.Several other countries in Asia, Europe and North America have adopted solar power as viable option. In sub-Saharan Africa, only South Africa is in the league of solar energy countries, gearing to reach an installed capacity of 8, 400 MW by 2030.
The assertion by the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, that solar energy is more expensive than the other types of energy needs to be substantiated.Also, hydropower and coal are dependable energy sources that Nigeria has in abundance and should explore.
The Buhari administration should explore these alternative energy sources and stop over-reliance on gas. With the mounting call to restructure the country, the onus is on the government to allow the will of the people to take precedence. The issue of power supply may even be resolved in the light of the resources available to different areas of the country.