Energy Crisis In Nigeria

Posted October 3rd, 2011 by Stephen Ogunyiola

Energy Crisis In NigeriaFor many years now, Nigeria has been facing an extreme electricity shortage. This deficiency is multi-faceted, with causes that are financial, structural, and sociopolitical, none of which are mutually exclusive. Nigeria’s power sector has high energy losses from generation to billing, a low collection rate and low access to electricity by the population. There is insufficient cash generation because of these inefficiencies and the power sector is consequently reliant on fuel subsidies and funding of capital projects by the government. At present only 10 % of rural households and 40% of the country’s total population have access to electricity. This article takes a look at technical issues as well as challenges confronting the power sector and suggests solutions to the country’s energy crisis (Wikipedia).

In a recent interview, Nigeria’s President announced that total electric generating capacity in the country was effectively below 3,000 Megawatts. If you divide this by the population you will find that there is only about 20 Watts per person. Increasing generating capacity to 5,000 Megawatts will raise this to a little over 35 Watts per person. The household bulbs we use are rated 25 Watts, 40 Watts, 60 Watts, or even 100 Watts. The 2-ft fluorescent lights consume around 20 Watts powers. Thus, if all the electricity generated is used exclusively in homes (with nothing for industries, businesses and commercial centers), there is just enough to light one bulb for every Nigerian.

Typically 50% of grid electricity is consumed in homes, while the commercial and industrial sectors account for about 25% each. Nigeria still has a long way to go to generate at the 5,000 Megawatts level. The Kainji Dam can only provide 960 Megawatts (less than 1 Gigawatt). Not all the turbine units are in operation because the water level in the reservoir is often low for a multitude of reasons including drought. The power from the dam is only about 500 Megawatts to 600 Megawatts most of the time (Osun Defender Newspaper).

Nigerian Power Failure Causes
One of the major causes of power failure in Nigeria is that conventional power generation uses fossil fuels (which a layman would call: coal, gas, and oil). These are non-renewable energy sources, and are being used up very rapidly. Fossil fuels take millions of years to form, and with heightened global demand they may be exhausted much sooner than later. The future of electrical power generation from fossil fuel combustion is threatened by escalating fuel prices and by adverse environmental consequences of large scale combustion of carbon-rich fuels. Combustion of these fuels unleashes intolerable amounts of carbon dioxide to the environment contributing to turning the Earth’s atmosphere to a greenhouse with the harmful effect of producing global warming. In this regard, coal-fired plants, while offering electricity on the cheap is the worst culprit, and power utilities that propose these plants are increasingly incurring enormous (capital) costs in assuring adequate emissions control and carbon dioxide sequestration to minimize the pollution they unleash on the environment.

Natural gas (mostly methane) also adds significant amounts of carbon dioxide to the environment. Meeting these challenges adds significant costs to electricity production from the use of the non-renewable primary energy resources. In other words, there is every indication that electricity production from the mix of conventional fossil fuels will occur in the future at increasing cost to consumers than the current levels. Nigeria is blessed with an abundance of renewable energy both as direct solar energy and indirect solar energy. Indirect solar energy includes water power in the form of hydroelectric power, wind power, bio-fuels derived from corn and other plants, biomass, and biogas from garbage and other biological wastes. Solar energy can be exploited directly in thermal applications (crop drying, water heating, distillation, solar cooking, refrigeration and air conditioning, thermal power generation) and in solar electricity production using photovoltaic converters.

Nigeria Energy Crisis Effects
Admittedly, the shocks from the electricity crisis in Nigeria have created some wedges in the national wheel of effective management of industrial and the other socio-economic development programs in Nigeria. Imagine a population of 150 million people depending on less than 3000 MW of electricity.

Nigeria’s economy has been described as a “Fossil Generator Economy” and small and medium scale businesses incur extremely high overhead cost maintaining their expensive economically, environmentally, and health wise – fossil fuel powered generators.

The following are resources for more information on the Nigerian energy crisis, fossil fuels, and alternative energy sources and were used in the creation of this article:

1. Engr. D.J. Obadote – Energy Crisis In Nigeria: Technical Issues And Solutions
2. Osun Defender – Nigeria’s Epileptic Electricity, Don Advances Permanent Solution
3. Perpetual Minds – Biomass
4. Perpetual Minds – Coal Energy
5. Perpetual Minds – Hydroelectric Power
6. Perpetual Minds – Natural Gas As An Energy Source
7. Perpetual Minds – Solar Energy
8. Perpetual Minds – The Greenhouse Effect
9. Perpetual Minds – Wind Power

Image Credit: Best Buy Flags

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