By CLEMENT NWOJI, Abuja
With its current wheeling capacity exceeding 10,000MW of electricity, it is apparent that the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) is having frustration of under utilisation of its full capacity given the present power generation shortages by power plants, most of which knocked out by technical problems and lack of gas supplies.
The problem of under utilisation of TCN wheeling capacity is projected to be compounded unless infrastructural expansion are beefed up and defaults of service delivery are eliminated at both ends of electricity value chains, that’s the power Generation companies (GenCos) and and Distribution Companies (DisCos) soon, going by the multi-pronged approach of maintenance and expansions of TCN transmission structures being carried out under the Transmission Rehabilitation and Expansion Programme (TREP) of the Federal Government. The objective of TREP is to expand the grid to 20,000MW by 2023.
The current total installed generation capacity of about 12,522MW which is not even generated by the GenCos under normal circumstances is presently further hampered by the undisclosed technical problems and gas supply shortages. Thus, inherent hiccups exits in evacuating electric power generated by the GenCos and wheeling it to DisCos bearing in mind that TCN can only evacuate and wheel what’s generated. It cannot transmit in vacuum neither can it wait until sufficient Mega Watts are generated before it transmits because electricity cannot be stored in shelves like other products. Power generation, transmission and distribution undergo simultaneous process.
Before now, some of the teething challenges of the TCN include: Obsolete Substation Equipment, Overloaded transmission lines and Substations, Inadequate Coverage of Infrastructure, Limited Funds for Development projects, High Technical and Non-Technical loss, Limited training opportunities and Community issues during project execution. But most of these problems had been resolved excepting generation of adequate electricity to meet the demands of the growing populace nationwide. In the main, the TCN is forging ahead with Transmission Rehabilitation and Expansion Programme (TREP) in terms of replacement of low capacity transformers, reconductoring of transmission lines; construction, rehabilitation and commissioning of transmission substations targeted at further strengthening and boosting of its transmission capabilities.
Not only that, processes are in motion for the construction of a new Control Centre at Gwagwalada in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) which will take the model of the National Control Centre (NCC) in Oshogbo, Osun state.
The TCN Managing Director, Engr. Sule Abdulaziz, had indicated that it will be equipped with the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) as well as, other modern communication equipment in line with international standards.
Over time, electricity supplies had been epileptic resulting to power outages at various times due to inadequate power generation for transmission but little did the consumers knew until the Minister of power, Engr. Sale Mamman made the startling revelation on the incapacitated conditions of the nation’s power plants due to technical problems and gas issues.
While technical problems may be unforseen as it can even occur and ground brand new vehicles, one finds it hard to explain the gas issues given that from statistics Nigeria hosts one of the world’s largest gas reserves. In this case, inadequate supply of it to GenCos, hampers their power generation capacities.
According to the minister, the current power outages/shortages bedeviling many parts of the country is “caused by the breakdown of some National Integrated Power Plants supplying electricity to the national grid. The plants are namely, Sapele, Afam, Olonrunsogo, Omotosho, Ibom, Egbin, Alaoji and Ihovbor. The Jebba Power Plant was shut down for annual maintenance.
“Seven other integrated Power plants, namely Geregu, Sepele, Omotosho, Gbarain, Omuku, Paras and Alaoji are experiencing gas constraints while the Shiroro plant has water management problems. This unfortunate development has drastically affected Power generation, thus effectively minimizing the national grid.”
Statistics showed that since March 1, 2021 when the simultaneous peak generation attained and transmission was 5, 801. 60 MW, the generation output has nose dived spilling over to decreased level of wheeling and transmission. Analysis of daily service delivery records from the Advisory Power Team, domiciled within Presidential Villa, Abuja revealed dwindling fortunes in generation. Random examination of daily service delivery showed that On March 24 2021, average energy sent out was as low as 3,885 MWH/Hour (down by 278.34 WH/Hour from the previous day); Peak Generation attained on March 25, 2021 – 4,535.7 MW, Peak Average Energy Sent Out ever – 4,794 MWH/H (11 December 2020); Peak Generation attained on March 27 2021 – 4,579.2 MW while average energy sent out was 4,334 MWH/Hour (down by 23.51 WH/Hour from the previous day); Peak Generation attained on March 29 2021 – 4,259.6 MW while average energy sent out was was as low as 3,919 MWH/Hour; Peak Generation attained on March 31 2021 – 4,618 MW while average energy sent out was 4,234 MWH/Hour (up by 83.36 WH/Hour from the previous day)
Further statistics indicated that the Generation capacity in the sector fell below 4000MW as the output from Hydro stations fell by 36.6 percent to 660MW from 1042MW. Also data obtained from the System Operator (SO) showed that, the national grid generated 3,657MW as of 6.00 am on Sunday, 21 March, 2021 this is a drop from 4156.7MW generated on Saturday, 20 March, 2021. The prevailing epileptic performance of the GenCos was apart from the undisclosed technical problems, attributable to sector constraints such as gas constraints, water management and low DisCo load demand.
Efforts by OPTIMUM TIMES to get the Executive Secretary and Spokesperson of the Association of Power Generation Companies (APGC), Mrs Joy Ogaji, to give insight into the alleged “technical problems” and “gas issues” which grounded generation operations of most power plants in the country was rebuffed. Text questions sent to her were merely read but not responded to.
But how and how soon the issues militating against power generation will be resolved, only time will tell as consumers grapple with epileptic power supplies.