Power generation from coal strategic to industrial revolution, says Obiyo
HOW would you assess the potentials of coal power in the economy?
Coal to power development will also lead to eventual emergence of Nigeria as an industrial hob and will lead to actualization of the Federal government achievement of its Industrial and economic revolution. No doubt this is timely, especially bearing in mind, our target and goal of becoming one of the top 20 economic powers of the World.
Coal is an essential part of Nigeria’s energy mix plan and it should be applauded that the Federal government has now exhibited the commitment to make it a reality.
Coal should be a critical source of our power generation because unlike gas, which has been our main source of power generation, the Federal government and the private sector will not have to expand scarce resources on pipe-line protection and repairs and nor will we be at the mercy of the National Oil Companies for gas supply.
Coal is available and accessible and could also be turned to clean fuel as there is now available technology for gasification coal and there is a plan to apply such technology during this development.
Nigerians should realise that significant work and planning and implementation plan have already being put in place to make coal to power an achievable project within in a very short plan and the signing of the current MoU as part of that implementation plan. Coal development and power generation would make Nigerian an energy sufficient and self-reliant country.
It also further illustrates the federal government’s genuine intention in making the sector private sector friendly, while the government continues the critical and essential part of the power sector, which is the regulation. The privatisation of the power sector is a significant and laudable achievement and milestone. When fully implemented, it will lead to significant improvement as we have seen in the telecommunication Industry. I am also a critical stakeholder and my company has played significant role in the growth of the telecom sector. As a technocrat and a patriot, I could see the same potentials in the power sector and that is why I have chosen the coal to power, which has long being neglected.
I personally believe that with the current zeal and commitment from the Federal government in developing coal industry and also utilising same for power generation, that it will not be for long before 24hour power supply will become the norm and realistic.
China, which has now become the economic power house of the world still uses coal as a main source of power generation and so do other main economies of the world. My company is pleased to be partnering with the federal government in developing the coal sector. This includes the coal to power generation. We have already commenced implementation.
Let me assure Nigerians that with the assurance of support from the Federal Government that there will be no bottlenecks in our way. We will soon achieve our goal of actualising the generation of five hundred mega-watts through coal. We will not stop once we achieve this first milestone, as we know how important power generation is to economic growth and sustainability of development. We can assure Nigerians of our commitment and we will give it all our commitments the same way we did in the telecomm part of business.
How did the emergence of Enugu for the setting up of the plant come about?
Nigeria is blessed with abundance of coal deposits, with Enugu being the hub, as its coal deposit is in three layers when compared with other parts of the country which had one layer of the resource deposited at a point, all across large stretch in eight other states.
The coal deposit in Nigeria is very clean and as such, the processing of the mineral resource for energy delivery will not be a cumbersome process. The South East zone alone has enough coal deposits to deliver 5,000MW of coal-fired power to Nigeria. The whole area also provides a veritable corridor of power supply to both the South East and the Northern part of the country.
Why the renewed quest for coal to power projects?
As part of the progression in the on-going privatisation and transformation in the power sector under the administration of Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, the government has seen that diversification of our power generation is of essence if the current gains and achievements already made are to be sustained.
As a result of that diversification, the federal government has gone into the generation of power supply through solar, under its Renewable Energy Policy Programme and also coal to power generation of which our company is an integral partner. Coal generation has long been neglected until the present administration saw it fit and essential to revive it.
Coal generation and the revival of the coal industry will lead to industrial revolution, not just because of the power generation that will lead to revival of the industries in the South East that has long been dormant despite the available natural and human resources.
The by-products from coal mining and processing will lead to economic growth and also more industrial growth that will revive cluster industries and will fuel SME’s that will be similar to that of China and that is what has made China, the Industrial and Economic giant that it has become today.
What is the Federal Government’s involvement in this project?
The Federal Government is still the policy maker and the regulator of the power sector. The consumers are the beneficiaries of the products. There is a process in place. It is like a partnership of which the Federal Government under the Ministry of Power has made sure that the processes are not delayed.
The ministry has assured us that they are going to partner with us to ensure that the appropriate licenses are secured. And I can tell you that we are very fast. Most of the licenses have been secured at the moment, and we are not losing any sleep.
When are you going to kick-start the project?
Well, you know I am a Nigerian. I was born and bred in this country. I know that power is critical to Nigeria’s development and I am conscious of the fact that part of the setbacks Nigerians and people have always had in this country is the lack of power, otherwise, small scale industries would have been emerging,. I describe it as a familiar environment for me. I know it is essential and how critical it is for us to ensure we flag-off this project as fast as possible.
Before we signed the MoU we conducted a nationwide research. We have done a couple of consultations. We have engaged the federal government and we know how important the project in the power sector is.
We are part of the immediate beneficiaries of the bundling of the power sector. We are assuring you that we are going to work very hard to ensure that the coal power project in Enugu becomes a reality. I must stress that coal to power is a very simple operation. Remember in the case of gas, there has been a lot of vandalism of gas pipeline. This coal to power project eliminates such practice because there will nothing to vandalize by any criminal.
What is the cost implication of this project?
The only thing I can tell you again, of course, you should know it is a multi-billion Naira project. It is running into several billions and we have the appropriate capacity to ensure that the required funding is put in place. That is all I can say for now.
What type of technology are you going to deploy?
Well, you know we are renewable energy experts and this is our call, and coming from the renewable energy environment, I can assure you that we have the required clean energy technology to embark on this project. We are also going to ensure that there are no any environmental hazards as soon as these projects are going to take- off because I am sure that that is what your question line is directly about. So, all of those assessments must be carried out to the letter and we will make sure that we do what is required to ensure the appropriate implementation of the project.
The project will serve the entire South- East. It is also going to be fed to the national grid. We are talking about 500 mega watts.
I restate that we are not going to have any funding issues. We understand the process. We have engaged the necessary sections and financial institutions to ensure that the right things are put in place. And our company is an international company. We have a very sound access to funding.
Have you carried out similar projects before?
We don’t need to have done this before. Like I mentioned earlier, we have done well in other sectors such as the telecom sector. We are in power generation and we are also going to go beyond the limit.
We have sound technical partners like I have said earlier in South African countries. Currently they are building the largest coal power station in the world now.