There is no doubt that achieving a robust energy mix in Nigeria is in concert with President Goodluck Jonathan’s vision of providing power to all within the country. This vision is an integral part of the long-term targets of the Road Map for the Power Sector launched by the President in August, 2010.
Of course, the short and medium targets were to achieve a substantial increase in the total quantum of power delivered to electricity consumers across the country and ensure a substantial reduction in government’s funding and managerial direction in the electricity value chain.
At present, the major sources of energy supply in the country are 70 percent thermal and 30 percent hydro. This is despite the fact the country is blessed with renewable energy sources like coal,wind, solar and an abundance of waste from biomass.
Renewable energy has not been adequately exploited due to very high initial costs.
However, government is intensifying efforts through local and international partnerships to harness the potentials of these sources for electricity generation in the country.
For instance, a few projects, mostly funded by grants from international and non-governmental organisations, have been implemented in the rural areas of the country such as the Millennium Development Goals energy-mapping project going on in the 774 local government areas of the Federation.
Minister for Power, Professor Chinedu Nebo, in a recent interview with newsmen, underscored the efforts of the Federal Government at diversifying the country’s energy mix by describing it as critical to electricity getting through to all Nigerians.
In his words,“That effort is going to drive the whole vehicle of ensuring that many of the rural areas not connected to the national grid can have some kind of ring-fencing, where they would be serviced by renewable energy”.
On policies that will guide the government to ensure the sector is growing like it should, the Minister remarked that the Ministry of Power is working on a renewable energy and energy conservation policy for the country.
Indeed, there are a number of new initiatives consistent with government’s determination to achieve a wider energy supply mix. These initiatives, which cover generation, transmission and distribution projects in the sector, also promote the emergence of a private sector-led competitive and efficient electric power industry as well as implementation of renewable energy programmes and initiatives in solar, wind, biomass, small hydro, etc.
Various incentives such as a robust regulatory frame work, tax holidays and cost reflective tariff for power sale have been put in place to attract more private investment to the power sector. Results of these initiatives include the tremendous interest shown by foreign and private investors in the ongoing privatisation of the power sector. Government is intensifying efforts in hydro power development. Just recently, the National Economic Council gave approval for $1.72 billion counterpart funding for development of hydro power projects, including Mambilla (3,050MW) Zungeru ( 700MW) , Gurara 11 (360MW) , Kashimbilla (40MW) and Itisi (40MW).
There are also other small and medium power projects ongoing nationwide which will boost the power generation capacity.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Power, Ambassador Godknows Igali, recently disclosed that about 200 dams which hitherto were constructed for purely irrigation purposes are now being adapted for electricity generation. The power to be generated from these dams may remain off grid to serve the local needs of the rural people who have for long been marginalised in power supply.
The Ambassador emphasised that the concomitant multiplier effect on the agriculture value chain would be unimaginable, while employment generation and empowerment would naturally follow. In May this year, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the Ministry of Power and HQMC Korea Co Ltd .Under that agreement, HQMC is to provide 1,000 MW of solar energy every year for the next 10 years via projects spread across the country.
The Minister of Power, who described the project as laudable, expressed confidence that it would help achieve the country’s desired energy mix.
Another major effort at energy mix expansion is the Coal-to-Power project. There are plans by the government to build Coal-Fired Plants in Enugu, Benue, Kogi and Gombe States.
Already, the Minister of Power and Minister of Mines and Steel Development recently concluded a visit to Coal plants and other facilities operated by HTG-Pacific Energy Consortium in India and China to ascertain the competencies of the consortium in order to ensure value judgment in doing business with the firm.
Just before the visit, the Minister of Power inaugurated an eight-member committee to develop a workable framework that could galvanise long term use of the country’s abundant coal resources to improve her power generation capacity.
Meanwhile, the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC) has put 10 of its National Integrated Power Projects (NIPP) generation plants up for sale. These projects, with total capacity of 4,775MW, are located in Calabar, Egbema, Ihovbor,Gbarain, Sapele, Omoku, Alaoji, Olorunsogo, Omotosho and Geregu. Road shows have been conducted in Lagos, London and most recently in New York to advertise these projects and attract investors to them. The plants are expected to attract not less than US3.8 billion.
Hoping that all these efforts are pursued to a logical conclusion,there is reason to believe the ongoing initiatives to achieve wider energy mix in the country will soon be realised. This will go a long way to satisfy Nigerians’ hunger for electricity.
The gains associated with this are manifold. Small and medium scale enterprises as well as cottage industries will spread across the length and breadth of the country, with a concomitant increase in economic activity.Many new jobs will be created, in the public and private sectors. The crime rate will reduce,and Nigeria would have fulfilled her ambition of achieving 40,000 MW by 2020 and putting in place a competitive power market.