By Muktar Tahir
The energy thematic group of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, TETFund’s Research and Development Standing Committee, RDSC, has said that Nigeria needs 11,500MW power generating capacity to attain Africa’s average in electricity generation.
The coordinator of the group, Prof. Abubakar S. Sambo stated this on Tuesday while delivering his keynote address on the theme: ‘Institutionalisation of Research and Development in Nigeria’s Energy Sector’, via zoom, the 3rd in its global engagement series on the Paradigm Shift.
RDSC, under the chairmanship of Emeritus Prof. N.M Gadzama, is a TETFund’s initiative aimed at bridging the gap between academia and the industry by promoting problem-solving researches and encouraging partnership with the industry.
While lamenting that Africa is the only continent with the worst energy poverty in the world, Mr Sambo disclosed that about 600million Africans are living without access to electricity.
In the case of Nigeria, the coordinator said the country has about 13,000MW of installed generation capacity of electricity but fails to harness same due to myriads of challenges.
According to him, in 2019, International Energy Agency statistics has put Nigeria’s power generating capacity at 7,500MW, representing 62% in relation to Mauritius and Tunisia which all have about 100% access to electricity.
He, however, said that Egypt, South Africa, and Ghana have 99.8%, 94% and 83% of electricity access respectively.
While enumerating the challenges militating against efficient power supply in Nigeria, Mr Sambo described constraints in the supply of natural gas to the power plants as one of them.
He said: “More than 25% of the nation’s current power plant capacities are gas-fired and their major complaint is that they do not get the quantity and quality of gas they needed.”
Mr Sambo added that recent studies have shown that there are significant wastages in the supply and consumption of electricity in the country.
The coordinator added that, “vandals often steal electricity cables, transformers and other items, while some consumers make illegal connections and by-pass meters, thereby stealing electricity.”
To make the matters worse, according to him, the Transmission Company of Nigeria, TCN, lacks adequate funds to strengthen and expand the National Grid to be able to wheel all the electricity generated in the country.
Mr Sambo, therefore, called for the expansion of the energy mix for generating electricity by using all viable energy sources.
According to him, doing so will lead to an enhanced level of electricity supply security which large-scale industries always look for before establishing their plants in a country.
While proffering medium-term solutions to the dwindling power supply in the country, the coordinator advised that within the next one to three years, the Federal Government should develop smart meters and their use in payments of electricity.
He added that there should be the development of sensors and cameras to protect energy infrastructure against vandalism and theft of power components.
Mr Sambo said the Federal Government should “development of strategies for the local production of commonly consumed power and energy system components like transformers, feeder mills, meters, solar modules, inverters, charge controllers, deep charge batteries and drives for electric vehicles.
“The 5MW SERC, 7.5 MW NASENI and the 40MW Borno State solar PV modules production plants, and other energy components already being manufactured in Nigeria should be integrated into this initiative.
“Designing and implementing household and industrial projects should be done to entrench energy efficiency and conservation.”
He added that the government should equally commence cutting edge research and development in several emerging technologies for energy production including Fuel Cells Technology, Algae Synthesized Biofuel for enhanced Energy Mix.