Solar energy, embedded and captive power, as well as medium hydro power stations have been advocated as the sources of power generation that will enable Nigeria produce electricity required to develop all sectors of the economy.
The Minister of Power, Prof Chinedu Nebo, who dropped this hint in Lagos over the weekend, said that government has given mining licenses for coal production to firms to generate electricity.
Nebo, who spoke when he visited some Media houses in Lagos, reassured Nigerians of the Federal Government’s commitment to providing stable power. He listed the activities undertaken by the government to achieve the goal, which he noted included the emergence of road map on power that led to the eventual privatization of the power sector after so many years of delay; government investment on the building of hydro power stations, and the plans to use Coal, wind, and renewable to generate electricity to meet national demand.
He commended the managements of the Nigerian Media for sustaining a record of objective reporting over the years.
He said the Federal Government has done much to ensure that Nigerians enjoy stable power supply citing various projects in thermal, hydro and solar energy that government had executed, some completed and other ongoing. He noted that power generation currently stands at 4,500 megawatts (MW) but because of downtime and other hitches, output is 3,500MW.
The Minister also stated the government’s activities in rural electrification aimed at achieving its programme tagged ‘Operation Light up Rural Nigeria.’ He also lamented the challenges of vandalism of gas pipelines which impedes efforts at achieving reasonable power output.
“When the current administration came on board, the power facilities were delivering barely 2,800 MW, and in fact the actual daily average didn’t reach 2,500MW. But today, we have hit 4500MW and I think it is a milestone by any standard. Electricity is not something you just can do overnight. It takes time for any of the projects to really mature,” he said.
He also noted that the National Integrated Power Project (NIPP) that President Jonathan inherited was virtually moribund, noting that it was when he became the Vice President that he started wooing and encouraging the states to come on board and ensure that the NIPP didn’t quite die completely.
He said when completed, all the 10 plants under NIPP will supply to the grid approximately 4,500MW, noting that two of the plants (Geregu and Omotosho) have already been commissioned while others are on board and will be commissioned within this year.
“Also when the NIPP was conceived, there was no concomitant development and deployment of gas infrastructure to supply gas to the plants to power the turbines and they are all gas-fired turbines. But working with this administration’s gas master plan, we can comfortably say that essentially all the NIPP plants now have gas infrastructure. In other words, once gas is available, we can power all of them and that wasn’t the case a few years ago. In the past, there was no mention of connecting those plants to gas.
“The Rural Electrification Agency was scrapped because the previous government considered the project as not being useful but President Jonathan saw the need to keep the Agency, so he reactivated and bonded the Agency to make sure that those in rural communities are also given light. The Agency now is not only alive but booming,” he explained.
The minister said: “The Power Holding Company was essentially dying when Jonathan became President. For 16 years neither the National Electric Power Authority (NEPA) nor PHCN employed a single engineer. How do you develop infrastructure and grow a system where there was no increase or improvement of your human capacity? So for 16 years, engineers and new technology were not employed. It is in view of this that Mr. President gave approval to employ over 1000 engineers and we have done that for the Transmission Company of Nigeria. Since other value chains have been privatized, they will do their own and many of them are hiring engineers at the moment,” he said.