The incessant collapse of the national grid raises questions on the huge investment sunk into transmission and generation strata of Nigeria’s power sector. Adeola Yusuf examines the potency of these investments, taking a second look at solutions from independent power plants.
Nigeria has been losing billions of naira due to poor power supply. This is because energy is the life-wire of any economy. The transmission grid is characteristically susceptible to system collapse when generation is below 3,500mw and the available spinning reserve capacity is low. During such system disturbance, the 11 distribution companies are only “on station supply” where they cannot service their customers because there is no power to give to customers. This is possibly due to some power plants going down due to non-supply of gas and the only power you get from the national grid when you are on station supply is what you will use to run your base radio. You can’t send it to customers.
Meanwhile, a super grid is the solution to Nigeria’s current transmission network power woes. Super transmission grid is a model transmission line that can take huge power, thereby reducing system collapse. The good news is that this is expected be achieved under the Nigeria Independent Power Plant (NIPP) Phase 2.
The journey to super grid
Reportedly, the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC), a company responsible for NIPPs, has received proposals from interested foreign investors for partnership and financing of the NIPP Phase II projects. Aside foreign partnership, funding for the projects can also come from the three tiers of government via divestment of their equity holdings.
The NIPP was initiated in response to the deplorable state of power infrastructure and the inappropriate framework for private sector investment in the Nigerian electricity industry pre-2005. Its scope covers the entire value chain in the power sector, namely generation, transmission and distribution. Since 2005 when the NIPP was conceived, the federal, state and local governments through the NDPHC (a government agency owned by the three tiers of government) have implemented it jointly.
The NDPHC equity structure is as follows: Federal Government 47 per cent; 36 states, 35 per cent and 774 Local governments, 18 per cent.
Understanding the NDPHC funding model
Domiciled in the presidency, the NDPHC has been funded via the Excess Crude Savings Accounts and its capital funding sum currently is put at $8.46 billion. Before the birth of NIPP/NDPHC in 2005, Nigeria could barely generate 2,000MW of electricity.
The country neither had any gas-fired power station nor even the gas infrastructure to generated electricity. Nigeria had transmission capacity of 4,495 Kilometre (km) on its 330Kv lines. The country’s transformer capacity on the 132/33Kv band was 5,700MVA and on the 330/132Kv Transformer Capacity, Nigeria had 5,300MVA. In terms of distribution projects, then the country had 33/11KV sub-stations of 8,148MVA and 33KV and 11/0.41KV substation with 32,000MVA capacity.
“With the coming of the NIPP and 14 years after, a document from the NDPHC said Nigeria’s transmission capacity on its 330Kv lines increased to 6,932 Km or 46 per cent.
“In the same period, the NDPHC increased the country’s transformer capacity on the 132/33Kv band to 11,118MVA or by 42 per cent and today Nigeria’s transformer capacity on the 330/132Kv band is 11,590MVA, an increment of 93 per cent,” stated the document.
“The NIPP/NDPHC also improved the country’s distribution infrastructure, increasing 33/11KV sub-stations of 11,649MVA, up by 43 per cent and 33KV and 11/0.41KV substation with 84,170MVA capacity, a 163 per cent increment.
‘The NDPHC built 10 gas-fired power stations are with a combined installed capacity of 4,528.5MW.”
Today, the NDPHC-built power plants, the document added, contribute an average of 900MW to the national grid, with about 820MW idle for reasons of evacuation capacity.
“Other achievements of the NIPP/NDPHC in its Phase 1 include: building gas pipelines, gas metering and regulating stations grouped into seven lots for the delivery of natural gas to these power plants; expanding the country’s power transmission capacity through 25 lots as follows: 5,590MVA of 330/132Kv transformer capacity; 3,313MVA of 132/33Kv transformer capacity; 2,194km of 330Kv lines; 809km of 132kv lines; 10 new 330Kv substations; 7 new 132Kv substations; and expansion of 36 existing 330Kv and 132KV substations; execution of 296 distribution projects in 43 lots across the country, which has given the country 3,540MVA injection substation capacity; 2,600Km of 11Kv lines for HVDS; 25,900 CSP distribution transformers and 1,700km of 33Kv lines among others. However, in spite of these achievements, poor supply has remained epileptic, necessitating the need to begin the second phase of the NIPP, which was preconceived via a divestment and reinvestment plan by initiators of the NIPP.”
Three tiers and 80 % divestment angle
Instead of pulling out completely and leaving the citizenry at the mercy of private sector operators, the three tiers of government have only divested 80 per cent of their equity in one leg of the tripod – the NIPP Generation Assets – to private investors.
To also make room for private sector participation and efficiency in the power distribution sector, the three tiers of government sold their distribution assets to private distribution companies (DISCOs), of which $1.5 billion cost is recoverable from the DISCOs over a period of 10 years. The three tiers of government still have intact their transmission assets ($2 billion as at December 2015) and gas assets ($500 million as at December 2015), which equities they can divest to the private sector in the future to make more profits from their initial joint $8.46 billion investment in NIPP Phase I. In essence, the three tiers of government have invested $8.46 billion to expand Nigeria’s generation, transmission and distribution capacities and built a gas infrastructure to power 10 new gas-fired power plants.
Impediments to progress
Despite the potential highlighted above, there are issues that require urgent attention.
First, to get the Phase 2 work done, the three tiers of government and other stakeholders must close ranks to combat a number of challenges such as inadequate gas for full commercial operations; litigation in respect of bids for Alaoji, Gbarain and Omoku power plants; and NNPC/NGC plans to divert gas on the western axis and 240mmscf to Omotosho and Geregu.
There are also concerns about capacity for transmission and distribution, increasing acts of vandalism on NIPP/NDPHC facilities, especially bombing of gas pipelines and other power infrastructure in the Niger Delta.
This is where stakeholders in the power sector look up to the Ministry of Power for policy guidance and leadership in the sector. The National Assembly is also expected to play its crucial legislative roles to move the power sector forward.
Since the return to constitutional rule in Nigeria in 1999, the federal government has invested heavily into the power sector to meet Nigeria’s huge energy demand and the NDPHC has been part of a special arrangement to fast-track the attainment of stable power supply. It has contributed over 22,000,000 WHr of energy daily to the national grid. It has also provided the System Operator with critical services.
The renewables’ investments
Now launching into its phase 11 on renewable energy, starting off with Azuri will further impact Nigerians. With an average of 325 days of bright sunlight yearly, solar power can be one of Nigeria’s top lucrative business opportunity and a sure way to bring electricity to its millions of citizens. Many Nigerians still fall back on generators to meet their huge energy needs and it will take additional huge investment and time to meet all the need of Nigerians from the national grid.
Solar power with its cheap, easy to deploy effectiveness can help millions to afford stable power supply through good payments schemes. It is this initiative that the NDPHC has actively commenced.
ABC of NDPHC
The NIPP is the largest single intervention in power infrastructure in Africa and the implementation has not been without challenges. With an overall level of completion of projects in excess of 80 per cent, the balance of which are on the verge of completion, the NDPHC has definitely delivered on large parts of its phase 1 & II mandates of providing robust power generation, transmission and distribution infrastructure for the nation. The power throughput in Nigeria remains at about 12GW at generation level, 5.5GW at Transmission level and about 5GWat Distribution level, a situation that has restricted the improvement of service delivery at the last mile to consumers. In recognition of the subsisting gaps in power infrastructure, the NDPHC looks forward to completing its mandate by doing a lot more for Nigeria under NIPP phase II.
The nation will fully benefit from a world-class transmission infrastructure and a more diversified generation-mix underpinned on the utilization of alternative sources of power generation including renewables. Under phase II and to boost the federal government policy on escalating renewable energy opportunities through dependable solar alternative, the NDPHC has officially commenced a partnership with Azuri, a company with track record of success in its operations in East Africa. This partnership flagged off at Wuna village in the FCT, Abuja and is a part of the Presidential Initiative on Rural Solar Home Lighting Systems.
The NDPHC is actively involved in this presidential initiative where at it’s beginning, 20,000 units of solar home systems are now being deployed in under-served rural areas with no access to the national grid. Most rural dwellers in Nigeria have relied on kerosene lanterns and candles for their energy needs for decades, but this clean energy initiative, which apart from creating jobs and enabling solar installers and agents, will definitely boost general economic activities in the communities and make life more worth living. New small businesses will open and students can make better use of their nights. Solar power with its cheap, easy to deploy effectiveness can help millions to afford stable power supply through good payments schemes. It is this initiative that the NDPHC has actively commenced. In a continent where more than half of the world’s total population without electricity live, this NDPHC phase 11 project will definitely reduce the number of Nigerians whose productivity level have been cut down due to absence of energy. The company has keyed into the federal government’s ambitious renewable energy policy, which aims to increase energy production from renewable sources from 13 percent of total electricity generation in 2015 to 23 percent in 2025.
The NDPHC was formed in 2005 as the legal vehicle to implement the National Integrated Power Projects (NIPP) using private sector-orientated best business practices. Under phase 1 of the NIPP, the NDPHC has built 10 thermal Plants close to source of natural gas supply in the Niger Delta and some locations in the West. Under phase 11, it was to further strengthen Nigeria’s transmission infrastructure, build hydropower Plants in the North and move into the utilization of alternative sources of power generation including renewables. It is said to have been religiously following this corporate mission.
By its mandate, the NDPHC has been confronted by the challenge of inadequate power generation capacity in Nigeria.
It has grown Nigeria’s generating capacity by about 60 percent within the 13 years of its existence, contributing over 35 per cent of the current installed capacity. Its relatively self-effacing modus operandi since its inception, has not limited its meeting 80 per cent of its targeted capacity. Eight functional out of 10 NIPP power plants; along with associated gas transmission metering; adding huge MVA capacity to the national grid, have been achieved. Fully completed power plants include 750MW Olorunsogo II, 450MW Sapele, 434MW Geregu II, 450MW Omotosho II, 450MW Ihovbor, 450MW Alaoji, 563MW Calabar and 225MW Gbarain. Imminently completed ones include 225MW Omoku, 338MW Egbema and 530mw 2nd Phase Alaoji. The company’s overall contribution to the transmission system is increasing daily as the NIPP comes to full stream.
NDPHC in its first phase of operations was mandated to deliver power nationwide through massive gas-fired power plants. It has gone further ahead in its phase II and also succeeded in building thousands of kilometers of transmission lines across the country; building thousands of kilometers of distribution lines and support substations; building gas pipelines that will supply gas to these power stations to realize generation targets. Eight of the 10 power plants in the NIPP portfolio, along with associated gas transmission metering/receiving infrastructure projects to support commercial operation, have been commissioned and connected to the national grid contributing over 22,000,000kWHr of energy daily.
Many of the NIPP power plants on the national grid also provide ancillary services in support of system operations, a contribution critical for stabilizing the national grid. This is definitely a concrete contribution to the nation’s supply of electricity. All these were achieved despite the fact that power generation is often disrupted by acts of vandalism on gas pipelines and transmission lines. Also, that the NDPHC is owed an accumulated debt of over N94billion by the electricity market
NDPHC must continue its march to attain stable electricity supply for Nigerians. It should use every available means to raise the generation, transmission and distribution of power supply on the principle of best services.
As said by the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, NDPHC, Mr. Chiedu Ugbo, “Nigeria is dedicated to easing of access to power, particularly solar power, for the people.’’
Therefore, serious attention should be given to renewable energy sources by government far beyond paying lips services to it.
In a continent where more than half of the world’s total population without electricity live, the NDPHC phase II project, if properly implemented, will definitely reduce the number of Nigerians whose productivity level have been cut down due to absence of energy.
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