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‘How Nigeria can meet its energy needs with over 2bmt coal reserves’

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About one billion metric tonnes (bmt) of untapped coal reserves might help Nigeria meet at least 30 per cent of its power needs amid growing clamour for clean and renewable energy.
  
The deposits, according to the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE), are 639 million tonnes, while the inferred reserves are in the region of 2.75 billion tonnes. Data also indicated that there are about 22 coal fields spread across 13 states of the federation.
  
With electricity generation hovering around 5,000 megawatts (MW) despite the billions of dollars sunk so far into the sector, stakeholders, are of the belief, that electricity sufficiency could be achieved if the nation fully taps the opportunities presented by coal.
 
Already, some cement manufacturers have embraced the resource for power generation to reduce production cost and address the inadequate electricity from the national grid.
 

 
Coal-fired plants make use of the combustion from the endowment to generate light. They provide about 40 per cent of the world’s energy, though primarily deployed in developing nations.
  
Countries like South Africa use the natural gift to produce 94 per cent of its power, while China and India create 70-75 per cent of their electricity needs via the same material.
  
Former President Goodluck Jonathan, had in 2013, signed a $3.7 billion deal for a coal-to-power project at Ezimo Coal Block in Enugu State, and a 1,000MW coal-powered plant.

He was of the opinion that up to 30 per cent of the country’s energy requirement would be generated from the source, but sadly, the laudable project had been abandoned, as the most populous black nation perpetually gropes in darkness.

“Nigeria is endowed with abundant coal reserves of the required quality necessary for power generation. And so, there is no reason why we should not exploit that sector,” Jonathan had submitted.

To the Nigerian National Committee of the World Energy Council (NNC-WEC), for the economy to grow at a rate of 10 per cent, the country’s energy needs must hit 30,000MW by 2020, and 78,000MW in 2030.

Speaking with The Guardian, Head of Department of Petroleum and Environmental Geology, University of Ibadan, Prof. Olugbenga Ehinola, said academic studies had revealed that coal could account for 9.9 per cent; 13.8 per cent; 15.3 per cent; and 15.6 per cent of Nigeria’s electricity in 2015, 2020, 2025 and 2030.
  
He broke it to mean that the black gold could generate 1200MW, 4400MW, 15,400MW and 53,900MW of power for the aforementioned years.

Ehinola added that historically, Nigerian coal was mostly used as fuel for plants, locomotives – trains and marine vessels – as well as cement production.

On his part, the General Secretary, Nigerian Mining and Geosciences Society (NMGS), Dr. Akinade Olatunji, said many developed nations were not enthusiastic about supporting the deployment of coal for power generation in emerging economies, citing counter-productiveness.
  
Former Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, had at a time accused western powers of frustrating Nigeria’s effort to improve power supply through coal.
 
But the President, Geological Society of Africa, Prof. Gbenga Okunola, said it couldn’t be substantiated that there was a western conspiracy, adding that the factors affecting the actualisation of coal-to-power were economic and financial.
  
Also speaking, an analyst, Kalu Aja, agreed that attempts should be made to harness the potential in the product.


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