As the Transmission Commission of Nigeria (TCN) ramps up investments that has seen grid capacity rise to 7,000MW, breaking down the network into regional inter-connected grids, able to operate independently of each other, managed by a single transmission network should yield the best result for the country.
Nigeria’s power generation potential is dispersed across different regional areas and through diversified sources. Hydro projects are concentrated in northern Nigeria. Middle belt and eastern region has potentials to generate power from coal and the south has a preponderance of gas-fired plants. But power generation is structured in such a way that only hydro and gas sources are utilised.
Naturally, the distribution of energy sources should have led to a transmission grid architecture that allows for a structured regional grid managed by different regions, rather than the unwieldy, centrally managed structure.
TCN is made up of the Transmission Service Provider (TSP) and the System Operator (SO) with regional control centres and a National Control Centre (NCC) in Osogbo. If it is broken into regional inter-connected grids, able to operate independently of each other and also to operate as a single transmission network, operators would be less likely to refer to transmission as a weak link in the power value chain.
Experts have long called on the government to concession the TCN and allow for better management and expand the network for optimal efficiency, but such calls have largely been ignored. The government continues to spend scarce resources improving a failing grid because it must manage the grid from the center.
The result is that the government cannot meet its policy on a healthy energy mix for the country. Power from the sun is not fed into the grid, many rivers and streams from which power can be harnessed exist in different parts of the country but they not utilised due to a grid network that is not configured to run on market terms.
Several countries have evolved efficient systems for managing their national grid. Ghana’s GRIDCo was incorporated in 2006 as a private limited liability company for the purpose of operation of the National Interconnected Transmission System by an independent Utility and the separation of the transmission functions of the Volta River Authority (VRA) from its other activities within the framework of the Power Sector Reforms.
The United Kingdom’s National Grid is a private company owned by shareholders. It owns the high voltage grids in England and Wales and claims on its website a 99.99 per cent transmission reliability.