Often times, Nigerians wonder why the power supply in the country has remained incessant for several decades and the Government having little or no clue as to how this problem can be solved.
Well, the truth is there’s more to power supply than we think and in this post, you’d get to know what the process of power generation, transmission and distribution entails.
Going down memory lane, power generation in Nigeria can be traced to 1886 when 2 generating sets were installed to serve the Colony of Lagos.
Subsequently, in 1951, the act of parliament led to the establishment of the Electricity Corporation of Nigeria and in 1961, the Nigeria Dams Authority was established with the goal of developing hydroelectric power.
The two organizations were eventually merged in 1972 resulting in the formation of the National Electric Power Authority which became the body responsible for the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity.
In 2005, NEPA was unbundled and renamed the Power Holding Corporation of Nigeria. The unbundling led to 18 different companies comprising of 6 generating companies, 1 transmission company and 11 distribution companies.
Following this unbundling, the Bureau of Public Enterprises hired CPCS Transcom Limited; an international consulting firm based in Canada was engaged to provide advice on the best ways to move forward with the privatization of the country’s 11 distribution companies and the 6 generation companies.
The conclusion of the process led to the dissolution of PHCN on the 30th of September 2013. Subsequently, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) was formed.
This agency served as the independent regulatory agency tasked with monitoring and regulating the Nigerian electricity industry, with issuing licences to market participants, and with ensuring compliance with market rules and operating guidelines.
In this post, we will take a look at how the country has made progress in terms of power generation, transmission and distribution over the last few years.
Power Generation in Nigeria
Typically, electricity is generated from hydro stations, wind farms or thermal stations. The electricity in Nigeria is generated from hydro stations and thermal stations.
As stated earlier, generation of electricity in Nigeria currently lies in the hands of 6 GenCos which are listed below:
- Afam Power Plc 776MW
- Sapele Power Plc 414MW
- Egbin Power Plc 1,020MW
- Ughelli Power Plc 900MW
- Kainji Power Plant 760MW
- Jebba Power Plant 578MW
These power plants are usually located far from residential areas because of highly combustible fuels and pollutants like gaseous emissions and noise.
The generation sub-sector comprise 23 grid-connected generating plants in operation with a total installed capacity of 10,396 MW (available capacity of 6,056 MW) as well as the thermal based generation with an installed capacity of 8,457.6MW (available capacity of 4,996 MW) and hydropower having 1,938.4 MW of total installed capacity with an available capacity of 1,060 MW.
Power Transmission in Nigeria
Transmission is involved in evacuating the power generated from the generating stations. The Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) is responsible for the transmission network in Nigeria. It is fully owned by the Federal Government.
There are transmission towers at different parts of the country used for distant power transmission. Also, TCN provide the wires used to carry electricity and prevent the sagging of these wires
Nigeria’s transmission network consists of high voltage substations with a total (theoretical) transmission wheeling capacity of 7,500MW and over 20,000km of transmission lines. Currently, transmission wheeling capacity (5,300MW) is higher than average operational generation capacity of 3,879MW but it is far below the total installed generation capacity of 12,522MW. The entire infrastructure is essentially radial, without redundancies thus creating inherent reliability issues. At an average of approximately 7.4%, the transmission losses across the network are high compared to emerging countries’ benchmarks of 2-6%.
However, the number of system collapses has reduced over the last few years.
When evacuating power from the generating station, transformers are used to step up the voltage. The transmission voltages used in Nigeria are 330kV, 132kV and 33kV.
These standard values are embedded into the grid system which is a system of interconnecting network of transmission lines.
In summary, the process starts with power generation, then stepping up of these voltages after which they are connected to the grid. When the electricity reaches the transmission station, it is stepped down to a voltage of 11 or 33kV. However, this voltage is too high for most of our home appliances which explains why every residential or commercial area has transformers that step down this voltage to a lower voltage that can be used by the consumer.
Power Distribution in Nigeria
Distribution companies in Nigeria are referred to as DisCos and they are involved in the distribution of electricity to residential and commercial areas.
Currently, there are 11 Distribution Companies in Nigeria
- Abuja Electricity Distribution Company plc
- Benin Electricity Distribution Company plc
- Eko Electricity Distribution Company plc
- Enugu Electricity Distribution Company plc
- Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company plc
- Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company plc
- Jos Electricity Distribution Company plc
- Kano Electricity Distribution Company plc
- Kaduna Electricity Distribution Company plc
- Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company plc
- Yola Electricity Distribution Company plc
When the electricity reaches the Distribution companies, they make use of Distribution transformers to step down voltage from 11/33kV to 415V.
If you’ve observed any transformer, you’ll notice that there are 3 wires on the distribution pole but when they connect to the transformer they become 4 when coming out of the transformer.
This is because electricity is generated in a 3-phase pattern. The 4th line is the neutral line, which goes into the ground or earth to prevent electric shock when you’re using your home appliances.
Generally, most household equipment use single phase of electricity. Hence, one of the 3 phases on the distribution pole and the neutral line are used to supply residential buildings. This supply is 230 – 240V.
So that’s it, the process of power generation is quite complex and it requires that the different parts of the system are functioning optimally.
As it is presently, the power generated by the entire system in the country can not meet the demand of consumers which explains why incessant power supply has remained a mainstay in the country.