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Why peak electricity generation clogged at 5,000MW since 1999

Peak generation on the Nigerian electricity grid has risen only by 3,375 megawatts (MW) within the last 20 years. For 20 years, the peak generation…

Peak generation on the Nigerian electricity grid has risen only by 3,375 megawatts (MW) within the last 20 years. For 20 years, the peak generation has not gone beyond 5,000MW threshold which it first attained in 2012.

As at Monday, the national peak generation started at 3,487MW, a figure obtainable even before the power sector privatization of 2013.

According to the Daily Operational record posted by the Independent System Operation (ISO), a section of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), peak generation on Sunday was 4,329MW. The lowest generation that day was 3,010MW.

The National Population Commission (NPC) estimates show that Nigeria has about 200 million people, way much more than the 160m it estimated in 1999 when democratic dispensation began after a long military rule. Although the ISO puts the National Peak Demand Forecast at 25,790MW for this growing population, the highest peak electricity ever generated is 5,375MW (in February 2019).

Daily Trust in this analysis consulted other industry sources and records on a two-decade-long power generation history to find why the grid could not grow beyond 5,000MW since 1999.

In 1999, the highest electricity generation then was about 2,000MW. That only rose to 5,375MW on February 7, 2019, which, is after 20 years.

The total installed capacity of power Generation Companies (GenCos) was slightly above 6,000MW and operated below 60 per cent in 1999, data from the defunct Presidential Task Force on Power (PTFP), which operated under the Federal Ministry of Power, shows.

However, in 2019, GenCos capacity only moved to 7,652MW, Transmission at 8,100MW and Distribution at 5,500MW capacity, ISO report indicated.


Poor maintenance, vandalism issues

Prior to 1998, a sector-wide reform was initiated with the birth of the Commercialization and Privatization Decree No. 25 of 1988 by the National Council on Privatisation (NCP).

A presentation document by a former Director General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Bolanle Onagoruwa, showed that the average daily generation was 1,750MW; there was no new electric power infrastructure that was commenced and completed since 1989.

The youngest plant was completed in 1990 and the last transmission line was built in 1987. It was also estimated that 90 million people were without access to grid electricity, with power losses put at over 50 per cent.

It was to also provide 114 transmission lines and substations and 296 distribution injection substations.

In 2012, Nigeria recorded a peak power generation of 4,500MW under Prof. Barth Nnaji as Minister of Power. The average generation hovered around 3,500MW, statistics from PTFP showed.


Privatization: Hopes dashed 5yrs after

By November 2013, the privatisation of five GenCos and 10 DisCos was completed with the Federal Government retaining the ownership of TCN. The privatisation of the 11th DisCo – Kaduna DisCo and Sapele GenCo – was concluded in November 2014.

From December 2013, under private hands, peak power generation was sustained at 4,500MW for several days until early January 2014 when vandalism of gas pipeline plunged the grid to about 2,000MW with multiple cases of grid system collapses that left the grid at times on zero megawatts.

Nigeria then set a target of reaching 10,000MW by 2014 with the private led sector operation.

By May 29, 2015, peak generation was at 3,400MW due to vandalism issues and the massive industrial actions by oil and gas workers over uncertainties of their welfare in a transiting government.

The power situation improved under President Muhammadu Buhari’s early days in office as peak generation was over 4,000 for nearly three months, TCN daily power records showed; by October 2015, it started dropping due to liquidity crisis and resumption of vandalism. While generation capacity was at 6,000MW, transmission capacity was at 6,500MW and distribution capacity 4,500MW.

In December 2017, the peak power generation rose to 5,222MW, being the highest ever. However, average power supply was still at 3,800MW, statistics obtained from the Independent System Operation (ISO), a section of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) indicated.

Transmission capacity rose to 7,100MW in December 2018 while generation rose to about 7,500MW with a total of about 28 GenCos from which 23 were operational.

On February 7, 2019, a new record was set as the peak generation rose to 5,375MW, about 14 months after the previous peak was recorded. The grid then sustained 5,000MW peak threshold for at least seven days in February 2019, statistics showed. However, the average daily power generation fluctuates around 4,000MW and some other times plunged to between 3,500MW and 3,800MW, ISO daily report history showed.

Currently, available power generation capacity stands at 7,652MW. TCN said the transmission wheeling capacity stands at 8,100MW, away from the 7,000MW capacity achieved in December 2017. The 11 DisCos so far can take about 5,500MW of electricity on their network, a simulation report of TCN said.


Riding on solutions’ highway?

TCN has projected a 10,000MW energy wheeling capacity this year and 20,000MW by year 2021. It said it is building more transmission substations and lines nationwide through its Transmission Rehabilitation and Expansion Programme (TREP). The DisCos said they are reducing their Aggregate Technical, Commercial and Collection (ATC&C) losses while striving to meter all customers under the Meter Assets Provider (MAP) scheme within three years.

However, to solve the over N1.3 trillion power sector liquidity crisis, the French Development Agency (AFD) in a report in May 2019 said the 11 DisCos will need to inject about 10 billion dollars (about N3.603 trillion) in investments which must involve new investors, to match TCN investments and deliver quality electricity services over a five year period.

The report also said DisCos must set a cost reflective tariff in the Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) being requested from them by NERC. The new tariff is expected to begin in January 2020, if the review goes according to plan, Daily Trust learnt. The development partners also emphasise the need to set up a consistent legal and regulatory framework by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) that would attract investors to sustain the power sector.



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