Since May 6, 2019, Nigeria’s electricity grid has recorded varying degrees of instability that led to about eight system collapses, which caused blackouts across the country.
Latest industry data obtained from the Federal Ministry of Power also showed that the recent grid collapses witnessed during and after last week’s strike by electricity workers were severe.
Our correspondent gathered that the grid collapsed from a peak of 4,561.7 megawatts on December 10 to as low as 72.6MW on December 12, before crashing further to 12MW on December 13.
This came as the Transmission Company of Nigeria stated that since May this year, the grid had been unstable due to poor distribution networks, a claim which power distributors countered.
In its report on implementation milestones of the Transmission Rehabilitation and Expansion Programme from February 2017 to October 2019, the TCN stated that since May this year, it had been difficult for it to achieve the standard frequency control for the grid.
It said in the report that the cause of the challenge was the lack of significant investment in distribution networks by power distribution companies.
According to the TCN, the West Africa Power Pool standard frequency control for the grid is 49.80 Hertz and 50.20Hz, while the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission’s standard is 49.75Hz and 50.25Hz.
The TCN said, “From May 6, 2019 to date, the TCN has been struggling to achieve half of the above frequency control performance due to grid instability.
“The Discos’ networks lack significant investment and are poorly maintained, hence it is difficult to manage the balance between demand and supply due to incessant dropping of load by the Discos especially when it rains.”
The TCN is owned by the Federal Government and it is the only company, out of the 18 successor companies unbundled from the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria that was not privatised.
Our correspondent observed that the instability of the grid persisted from May up until December, as an analysis of the country’s power grid performance showed the fluctuations and collapses witnessed during the review period.
It was observed that in May this year, a peak power generation of 5,216.8MW was recorded on May 17 but the instability of the grid led to two system collapses.
The collapses occurred on May 8 and May 9, as power generation on the grid crashed to 42MW and 8MW, respectively.
In June, a peak power of 5,149.6MW was generated on June 17, but this could not be sustained as the grid collapsed to 127.1MW on June 30.
In the succeeding month, it was observed that the grid recorded no collapse but power generation kept fluctuating.
The highest and lowest power generation figures on the grid in July were 5,092.9MW and 2,646.2MW, which were recorded on July 16 and July 12, respectively.
The month of August, however, witnessed a collapse of the grid as the nation’s power system crashed to 20MW on August 30.
The highest power generation figure for August was 4,801.9MW and it was recorded on August 14.
There was no collapse of the grid in September, as the month witnessed a peak and lowest generation figures of 4,860.6MW and 2,137.6MW on September 13 and September 4, respectively.
In October, the grid sustained the no-collapse performance recorded in the preceding month, as it posted highest generation figure of 4,803.8MW on October 21, and lowest figure of 2,269.3MW on October 7.
But in November, it crashed twice, as power generation on the grid collapsed to 429.6MW on November 8, and further dropped to 145MW on November 9.
The grid, however, recorded a peak of 5,156.9MW on November 19.
The collapses continued in December with the country’s power system crashing twice within their first 13 days of the month under review.
It crashed from the 4,561.7MW recorded on December 10 to 72.6MW on December 12 before falling further to 12MW the next day.
Commenting on the development, the Director-General, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Muda Yusuf, said the grid collapses were compounding the already bad energy situation in Nigeria.
He said, “It is a question of making an already bad situation worse. The energy situation is already very bad. Any average business person, particularly those into production or any energy-intensive enterprise, will tell you that their biggest headache is the high energy cost.
“This is because the public supply is not readily available and they have to provide alternative sources through the use of diesel and gas.
“The collapses are just compounding an already bad situation, especially for small businesses in Nigeria.”
The President, Electricity Consumers Association of Nigeria, James Chijioke, said there was a need to revive the country’s energy infrastructure, considering the huge economic losses of system collapses occasioned by poor power equipment.
Although the TCN stated that the instability of the grid was due to poor distribution networks, power distributors countered the claim by the transmission company.
Speaking on behalf of power distributors under their umbrella body, Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors, the Executive Director, Research and Advocacy, Sunday Oduntan, faulted the TCN’s claim.
He said power distributors recently published the facts about the matter, while referring to the Discos’ earlier statement that the TCN still had a lot to address.
Power distributors had stated that system collapses on the grid had persisted despite the $1.6bn local and international intervention funds to the TCN.
The Discos also flayed the TCN over its alleged analogue system that had caused inefficiencies and 5,311 interface disruptions in one Disco in the first 18 days of September.
Responding to a TCN report that the Discos misrepresented crucial power evacuation and distribution data, Oduntan insisted that the Discos had not rejected energy load as the TCN claimed in its publication.
He argued that the 10 Discos had invested billions of naira in their networks, adding that the TCN’s data on load rejection were in conflict with figures presented to Discos by the National Control Centre.