• Thursday, May 30, 2024
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Power sector troubled as grid collapses 9 times under Tinubu

National grid collapse for the seventh time this year

In a string of setbacks for Nigeria’s power sector, the national grid has reportedly collapsed nine times under President Bola Tinubu, prompting widespread concerns about the stability and effectiveness of the country’s electricity infrastructure.

Tinubu, in his 2024 New Year message to Nigerians, had said significant improvement in electricity service supply was expected in the next 12 months, banking on fast-tracking power projects and private investments into the power sector.

“My administration recognises that no meaningful economic transformation can happen without a steady electricity supply in 2024,” he said on January 1, 2024.

Despite these promises, the story of repeated grid failures has left millions of Nigerians grappling with prolonged power outages, exacerbating the challenges faced by businesses and households.

The most recent collapse, which saw the grid breakdown from 2,583.77MW at 2 am on Monday to 64.7MW around 3 am, plunged several regions into darkness, with reports of disruptions extending for hours in some areas.

According to the latest data from the Independent System Operator (ISO), the grid, shortly after the collapse, was generating a meagre 266.50MW of electricity from Okpai, Geregu and Ibom power.

Although the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) said it has fully restored the national grid, industry watchers have blamed the challenges in the sector on an inability to create an efficient electricity market and fix regulatory gaps that compel the regulator to kowtow to government intervention and allow indiscipline by market operators.

Aisha Mohammed, an energy analyst at the Lagos-based Centre for Development Studies, said the leadership of the sector should be more aggressive in seeing the immediate review of the GenCos and DisCos architecture, and a more faithful implementation of the reviewed terms otherwise the power sector may continue to witness so much motion without movement,”

Mohammed noted that leadership plays a key role in instilling confidence in a sector and setting policies that show direction for the industry that would pave the way for investments in the sector.

“Our present political leadership has not been able to instill any kind of confidence or show direction for the power Sector,” Mohammed said.

Adeyemi Lawal, energy analyst at Energy Markets Rates and Consultants, said the foundation of the privatised power sector has been destroyed, pointing out that the new administration has not shown any sign to move the sector forward.

Lawal said the sector is failing both in leadership and management of all the critical stakeholders, stressing that retooling the entire industry structure, funding the industry gaps and decoupling the Nigerian Gas Company from Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited for privatisation were critical steps that must be taken.

According to him, the power minister has not had proper consultations and was not open to tapping from the best brains to unlock the sector.

“The civil servants cannot reform the industry. Power is capital-intensive and requires a dedicated team of midwives. There will be no gas very soon so generation with gas will drop. This darkness may be on for the next three years,” he said.

The country’s power firms generate and supply between 3,500MW and 5,500MW of electricity to over 200 million citizens across the country.

Data from the Nigerian Electricity System Operator showed power generation on the national grid was 4,133.32 MW on April 13, 2024.

“The current situation of the market is not surprising because resource adequacy has been on a decline for the past few years as evidenced in the dwindled generation capacity mainly due to mechanical faults and feedstock,” Tunde Osunlusi, an energy analyst in a Lagos-based investment bank said.

On Monday, TCN blamed a fire incident at the Afam power generating station for the latest national grid collapse.

“At 02:41Hrs today, 15th April 2024, a fire erupted at the Afam V 330kV bus bar coupler, leading to the tripping of units at Afam III and Afam VI. This resulted in a sudden generation loss of 25MW and 305MW respectively, destabilising the grid and causing a partial collapse,” Ndidi Mbah, TCN’s spokesperson said.

“During the incident, the Ibom Power plant was isolated from the grid and was supplying parts of the Port Harcourt Region. This further minimised the effect of the system disturbance. TCN confirms that the affected section of the grid has been fully restored and stabilised.”

TCN reaffirmed its commitment to improving the resilience and reliability of the national grid, pledging to continue investing in measures aimed at strengthening the grid infrastructure.