What is the cause of National Grid Collapse in Nigeria: A catastrophic failure of the national electricity grid which occurs frequently has left many Nigerians without power in the midst of scorching weather and a spike in fuel and diesel costs as a result of the Russian-Ukraine dispute, leaving the population once again in the dark.
Consequently, businesses are suffering significantly as a result of the threat to their survival, which has created further concerns about the country’s electricity sector’s future.
When compared to South Africa, which has a similar-sized economy and a fourth of the population, Nigeria has the capacity to generate 13,000 megawatts of electricity, according to the International Energy Agency.
Nigeria’s old grid can only offer about 5,000MW of electricity to its 200 million population, which is roughly the same amount of electricity as the city of Edinburgh can provide to its 500,000 residents.
The grid, which is administered by the government-owned Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), has experienced system failure on a number of occasions over the years, owing to a shortage of spinning reserve, which is intended to prevent such occurrences.
What is National Grid
An electrical grid is a network of linked power lines that transport electricity from generators to consumers. Electrical grids are available in a variety of sizes and can span entire countries or continents. It is made up of the following components:
- power stations: often located near energy and away from heavily populated areas
- electrical substations to step voltage up or down
- electric power transmission to carry power long distances
- electric power distribution to individual customers, where voltage is stepped down again to the required service voltage(s)
Almost always, grids are synchronous, which means that all distribution zones run at three phase alternating current (AC) frequencies that are synchronized (so that voltage swings occur at almost the same time). Transmission of alternating current power throughout the area is made possible, connecting a large number of electricity sources and consumers, and perhaps enabling more efficient electricity markets and redundancy generation.
In spite of the widespread use of electrical grids, as of 2016, 1.4 billion people in the world were not connected to a power distribution system. The number of individuals who have access to grid energy is increasing as electrification spreads throughout the world. In 2017, approximately 840 million people (mostly in Africa) did not have access to grid energy, a decrease from 1.2 billion in 2010.
Electric grids can be vulnerable to unauthorized penetration or attack, necessitating the implementation of electric grid security measures. In addition, as electric grids modernize and include computer technology, cyber attacks begin to pose a security risk to the grid’s users. Specifically, there are concerns about the more complex computer systems that are required to manage grids.
Energy Experts Opinions on the Cause of National Grid Collapse in Nigeria
According to a report from an energy experts, once those generating companies generate power, it passes through the transmission end, which acts as a mid-stream, operating a massive transmission cable known as 130/132KV lines across the country, before being stepped down to 33KV lines and 11KV lines for distribution to customers by Discos.
When there is a shortage of gas, there is a shortage of fuel to power generating plants, and if you can’t power the generating plants, you can’t generate enough power for the producing firms.
According to historical data, the amount of gas that Nigeria pumps into the power sector to fuel producing plants is insufficient — the available gas can only create 4,000MW (out of 8000MW needed). They require a maximum of 5,000MW at the national grid level, but because to maintenance concerns and the age of our infrastructure, they can normally fire between 3500MW and slightly over 4,000MW at the grid level.
We were generating over 4,000MW in December, when there was a lot of light, the hydro was operating, and there was a lot of gas being burnt, so we were generating over 4,000MW, and occasionally they did even more.”
“However, there has been a slew of events recently. One, there has been a lot of gas shortages across the country, so the generating firms aren’t getting enough gas. Also, some producing companies are performing regular maintenance, implying that the power they are generating is insufficient — you can’t do much if you don’t create enough power at the transmission level. Transmission requires a lot of wheeling capacity to keep the grid running; if there isn’t enough, the system will collapse.
The way the system works is that it requires a balance, but because it lacks that equilibrium, grid collapses occur on occasion. They’re starting to ration electricity on the distribution side as well because they’re not getting enough from the transmission end to provide to the distribution end.”
The energy experts went ahead to give an insight that the government must address the gas problem, pointing out that the government attempted to build new gas plants solely for gas-to-power purposes, but the plan failed to materialize.
Consequences of a National Grid Collapse in Nigeria
According to the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), a grid collapse can be divided into two types: a total grid collapse and a partial grid collapse. The total grid collapse is the most severe type of grid collapse.
According to the National Electric Safety Corporation, a whole system collapse results in a nationwide blackout, whereas a partial system collapse results in a breakdown of a segment of the grid.
A irregular power supply is the result of both system failures as a result of their combined effects. According to the National Electric Reliability Corporation, the power grid will remain vulnerable unless appropriate spinning reserves are in place.
What is a Spinning Reserve, and How Does it work?
A spinning reserve is the generation capacity that is online but not in use, and that can respond within 10 minutes to compensate for generation or transmission failures if they occur during normal operation.
Power stations that supply the grid should be equipped with a spinning reserve; if this is not available, grid collapse is a foregone conclusion. It also fails when there is too much energy and the grid is unable to transport it across the country as efficiently as it would want.
Besides frequent swings and distortions, there are other technological difficulties that have an impact on the grid’s integrity.
According to the National Energy Research and Development Corporation (NERC), proper technology and infrastructure investment, including smart grids, could make a difference.
According to TCN data, the national grid has gone down 108 times since the privatization of the power sector began in 1997.
The country of Nigeria has experienced 146 total national grid failures and 73 partial grid failures between 2010 to the present.
What the Government has to say about the National Grid Collapse
According to a recent press statement from the federal government, progress has been made in resolving the issue, including the following:
Restoring the gas pipeline that was damaged by vandalism — the pipeline today contributes an average of 300MW to the grid.
Negotiations with NAOC on an interim energy sales agreement, which will allow the new Okpai II power plant to be disconnected from the grid, thereby adding 400MW of additional generation capacity
According to the Federal Government, the ‘pigging’ of the gas pipeline providing gas to the Odukpani power plant is slated to be completed by March 21, 2022, resulting in an increase in generation of around 400MW.
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and we have reached an agreement on the framework for the overhaul of the Okoloma gas processing plant in River State, which will result in the restoration of the full capacity of the 650MW Afam VI combined cycle power plant in Port-Harcourt, which is expected to be completed by the end of the year.