Energy

Nigeria spends N5tn yearly on off-grid diesel generation — Report

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Aside from the massive recurrent national grid investments in Nigeria running into several billions of the United States dollar, the country is said to be spending N5tn ($14bn) on off-grid diesel generation yearly.

Off-grid diesel generation refers to systems that have no connection with the national utility grid, but provide electricity for homes, businesses, or applications.

This assertion was made by the Regional Vice-President for Central and Southern Africa, Rosatom, Mr. Viktor Polikarpov, in an interview with our correspondent on Nigeria’s energy investments and the accruing dividends.

According to him, primary energy consumption in Nigeria is largely satisfied by traditional biomass and waste (typically consisting of wood, charcoal, manure, and crop residues) and accounts for 74 per cent of the energy mix.

This high share, he stated, represented the use of biomass to meet off-grid heating and cooking needs, mainly in rural areas.

Polikarpov said, “The International Energy Agency estimates that 115 million people in Nigeria rely on traditional biomass and waste as their main sources of energy. The other 26 per cent is made up of oil, gas and hydropower. In recent years, the electricity production from hydroelectric sources has plunged due to water shortages and climate change.”

He urged the country to leverage on the nuclear power generation option, saying that for Nigeria to embark on the path of dynamic development, it needed more than 60,000 megawatts to ensure sustainable growth. The Federal Government aims to electrify at least 80 per cent of the country’s population by the year 2035.

He added, “In order to achieve this, the country’s energy mix should be diversified to include all available resources; and this should include traditional sources as well as non-traditional sources such as the renewable and nuclear.

“There are three important factors that should be considered when designing the optimum energy mix. The energy trilemma, as it’s otherwise referred to, is made up of economics, security of supply and environmental impact. Not many sources alone can bring together these three factors and therefore a mix is crucial.

“Hydrocarbons such as coal, for instance, are economically viable and offer stable power but are unfortunately very harmful for the environment. The renewable sources such as wind and solar are great for the environment but are intermittent by nature, and only produce electricity when the wind is blowing or the sun is shining, and there are unfortunately no economically viable methods of storing power at this point.

“Nuclear is one of the only power sources capable of ticking all three boxes and is therefore crucial to help balance any energy mix. In order to combat the current energy challenge faced by Nigeria, the country needs access to affordable and clean base-load power.”

The Rosatom official said base-load generation is important to the economic development of any country and is commonly described as the minimum amount of power needed by the grid to effectively run an economy.

According to him, base-load options, which are generally limited to hydro power, fossil fuels and nuclear, will enable the country to move towards nuclear energy.

According to Polikarpov, investing in nuclear projects will stimulate cash flows to the regional and national budgets that can surpass direct investments by a significant margin.

The actual amount of investments, he said, depended directly on technologies involved, adding that a recent analysis conducted by the Nuclear Energy Institute found that nuclear plants created some of the largest economic benefits when compared to all other generating sources due to their sheer size and the number of workers needed to construct and operate the plants.

Quoting the NEI report, he said, “The operation of a nuclear plant requires the highest number of skilled workers per kWh produced when compared to any other technology and on average, these jobs pay 36 per cent more than the average salaries in the area where the plant is constructed.

“New plant construction creates a direct demand for thousands of locally sourced skilled labourers, such as welders, pipe fitters, masons, carpenters, mill wrights, sheet metal workers, electricians, iron workers, heavy equipment operators and insulators, as well as engineers, project managers and construction supervisors.

 “There will also be thousands of indirect jobs created through localisation, including engineering services and the manufacture of components including pumps, valves, piping, tubing, insulation, reactor pressure vessels, pressurisers, heat exchangers and moisture separators.”

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