Harnessing coal for Nigeria’s electricity generation
THE imperativeness of adequate power supply for any nation’s growth and development cannot be overstated, as electricity remains the major driver for effective sctoral operations.
The need for diversified sources of power supply has naturally become a germane issue, with the nation now planning to opt out of monocultural profile.
That Nigeria, with over 2.734 billion tonnes of coal reserves spread across 22 locations of the country is still faced with problems of gross inadequate power generation, even with several clean coal generation technology options, presents an unsavouring case of poor resource management and utilisation.
The most significant uses of coal are in electricity generation, steel production, cement manufacturing and as a liquid fuel. Around 6.6 billion tonnes of hard coal were used worldwide last year and 1 billion tonnes of brown coal.
Determined to harness the uses of coal in electricity generation in Nigeria, the Federal Government signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Millhouse Engineering and Construction of Chicago, U.S.A for the development, exploration and mining of the Enugu coal reserve and utilization for power generation in the country.
The Minister of Power, Prof Chinedu Nebo, noted that in spite of the fact that at least seven States are known to have coal reserves, currently coal is yet to be achieved as a routine source of energy, he therefore promised to do more in reversing this trend.
He stated that if properly harnessed, coal alone could generate about 5,000MW of power for the country, a feat which will greatly contribute to President Goodluck Jonathan’s aspiration for increased supply and greater access to power by Nigerians.
According to him, coal – power has always been at the centre of the present administration’s agenda, this is just as he expressed the Federal Government’s commitment to partnering with interested would-be investors in the realization of this goal.
Coal, the Minister said, is about the biggest energy source for developed countries like United States, South Africa, China and Australia, but in spite of the call for renewables, clean coal technology would enable us extract power from abundant coal resources, he therefore called for more investors in that area.
He spoke about the clean coal technology now available which minimizes emission without going foul to the emission threshold and standards, adding that with this, it could be coal all the way – with all stakeholders gaining from the mutually rewarding relationship.
He urged the company to start with embedded power of about 4MW upwards, as it will enable it hit the market early.
Nebo assured the company of Federal Government’s assistance in the issues of Power Purchase Agreements, licences and permits, he also encouraged them to dialogue with power distribution companies operating in the area where their plant is situated.
The Chairman of the Company, Wilbur Millhouse, expressed his Company’s commitment to the Agreement, adding that apart from providing the technical, financial and operational resources needed for the implementation of the project; it will also provide adequate training for the Nigerian workforce as well as support the local content policy of the Federal Government from beginning to the end of the project.
Also, Nebo disclosed while receiving the Ghanaian Minister of Power, Kwabena Donkor, in his office recently, that with the discovery of clean coal technology now, and with Nigeria’s position as the country with the 7th largest coal deposit, the country should be prepared to join the league of nations that generate power from coal.
According to him, “those who do not want us to develop our coal, developed all their engineering technology, manufacturing and industries using coal, even today, coal still constitutes a substantial portion of their energy needs”.
He applauded the support of the African Development Bank (AfDB), in the provision of required Partial Risk Guarantee which the World Bank had shied away from, adding that Nigeria needs not to join the bandwagon of environmentalists by allowing potential power to be generated from coal as she is in dire need of energy from every available source.
The Minister disclosed that government is determined to fast-track coal for power by directing the Ministry of Mines to issue licences for coal exploration to companies who are genuinely interested in generating power, ahead of others who are interested in exporting the product, he stressed that if all these efforts are put together, the country should be able to generate additional 5,000MW from coal.
Prof. Nebo also proposed to the visiting Ghanaian team of the need for further cooperation in meeting energy needs in the sub-continent through the reinvigoration of the West African Power Pool (WAPP), insisting that it is a way of ensuring that countries within the African sub-region have greater access to power.
Earlier, the Ghanaian Minister had pleaded with his Nigerian counterparts that Ghana is passing through a challenging time whereby country of 25million people and energy need of 3,000MW, could only boast of 700MW.
He said his people are still cut up in the web of whether to classify energy and water as social or economic needs, adding that in spite of privatisation, there are still some conflicting issues that has made Ghana incapable of meeting the energy needs of its people.
He said that Ghana is ready to cooperate and learn from Nigeria’s experience in building a robust energy mix, as the issue of inadequate supply is choking to the Ghanaian government and people.