Tuesday, July 29, 2008


I dipped into a conference on power generation at the Sheraton earlier today, organised by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC). The presentations were of a good standard - they seem to have some competent people there. I learned the answer to a question I've had in my head for quite a while now: how much electricity is actually generated in Nigeria?

We know that in terms of NEPA/PHCN grid-based generation, the figure was over 3000Megawatts, but has now dipped to somewhere between two and three thousand (Ghana, with a fraction of the population, generates around 1500MW). But what about all the thousands of generators slurping away on diesel and petrol? Apparently, the total figure for generated power in Nigeria is around 40,000MW. In other words, self-generated power is over ten times that of government (PHCN) generated power.

[As an aside, another statistic that I've yet to be able to throw into the mix: Nigeria flares off the equivalent of 30% of total annual consumption of gas in the US. That's 30% of total American usage, burnt off into the atmosphere (and into people's lungs) in the Delta...]

Back to power. The government's strategy seems to be to rely on 40% of energy (that's national grid energy, not self-generated) coming via coal. That does not seem like that smart an idea, given the poor health of the planet, and given the fact that Nigeria has around 180 trillion cubic feet of gas reserves. I would have thought that prioritising gas would be the way to go, until a truly clean way of generating power from coal is found. Sure, there is an issue with gas distribution, but then there are ways of ensuring pipelines are not hot-tapped these days...

Still, renewables were mentioned by several speakers, which is encouraging. That said, there was quite some mention of nuclear too. I just can't imagine the G8 or other international bodies letting that one through... (I'm sure people will like to comment on this point!)

Whether or not targets are met (15,000MW by 2010 - ie in two years time - up to 130,000MW projected by 2030), I get a sense that if the government let the private sector do what needs to be done in a well regulated environment, huge strides could indeed be made in the next fifteen to twenty years.


Naapali 5:54 pm  

It is shockingly sad that Nigeria flares up that much energy and has done so for decades. Just imagine the difference converting that to sales or power generated would make in the economy and lives of people.

onydchic 7:40 pm  

This issue is frankly too tiring for words.

Chad 9:18 pm  

Regarding the natural gas issue and why it's not being used; I heard Yar'adua say that Nigeria has guaranteed contracts for the natural gas we produce for the next three years i.e. 100% has to be delivered to other countries so it's not an option. Coal isn't bad because there are new technologies that allow use of coal with minimal hazardous effects to the environment. It's just expensive and corporations don't want to put up the expense. Gas flaring is something that can be reduced if the money is spent but as is seen in Nigeria where the government does not regulate, it is unlikely that the extra money will be spent to reduce gas house effects if energy from coal is used.

BK_first_get_thirsty 10:52 pm  

dudes should throw some solar farms together in Gombe and Bauchi. can power the conitinent on that

gungun 1:54 am  

Thanks for the substantive post. However, none of these initiatives seem to be progressing at any significant pace.

Talatu-Carmen 12:36 am  

I would think wind farms would also do quite nicely in some places--particularly the plateau...

Anonymous,  11:34 am  

NERC - I just love the acronym!

Power sector, rail sector, oil sector - all same old, same old: lack of real political will, shabby idea and deliberate sabotage by an elite feeding fat on the status quo.

If Yardie has th balls to cut through the crap and actually DO something he will make a small piee of history in Nija.

Big if...

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