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How Should the Nigerian Government Tackle an Upcoming Energy Crisis?

Nigeria is the biggest sub-Saharan economy in Africa and is home to nearly 200 million people. Covering an area of nearly 1 million square kilometers, the energy requirements in this country are also big, but the current infrastructure is struggling to meet growing demands.

Currently, Nigeria has an electricity production capacity of nearly 13,000 megawatts (MW); however, the average daily production is close to 4,000 MW. Naturally, this massive deficit is creating challenges in all parts of the country.

How Should the Nigerian Government Tackle an Upcoming Energy Crisis?

The bulk of Nigeria’s electricity supply comes from gas-fired power plants. These gas plants are responsible for providing 1,000 MW to the national grid. Nigeria also has power coming from wind (10 MW), solar (7 MW), hydro (2,000 MW), and other (2,000 MW) sources. However, most are not operating even close to full capacity. Moreover, the country has an access rate of only 60%, the bulk of which (86%) is available in urban areas while the rural areas only manage to get a marginal share (34%).

Current Energy Issues In Nigeria

Ever since the privatization of the power sector in 2013, the power situation in Nigeria has only gone down. Like many other developing countries, there are multiple problems that are limiting Nigeria’s power infrastructure; however, some issues stand out more than others. The government relies on imported fuel to power its energy stations, even though the country is rich with big deposits of crude oil and other natural resources. The recent problems in Ukraine and Russia have been a golden opportunity for other oil producers, but since Nigeria depends on oil imports, it has suffered rather than benefitted.

As a result of these and more issues, some of the population has been facing weeks of blackouts. Just recently in March 2022, the country faced one of the worst power shortages in its history. After 13 out of 23 power stations went under, the country was left with just over 2,000 MW of electricity and many areas, including the capital, were severely impacted by power shortages.

The poor power distribution infrastructure, combined with a corrupt power management bureaucracy, makes it challenging for independent power producers to step in and set up their plants. The state is unable to create a fertile ground for international investors to develop a solid power system for the country.

Recently, there have been a lot of protests in and around the capital due to power shortages. In some areas, people have been without electricity for weeks and there are no signs of the situation improving. Everything from schools to radio stations to hospitals has been shut down because they can only operate for so long on generators and UPS supply systems.

As the elections in February 2023 come closer, the pressure on the state to provide power to the masses is also increasing. This is the best time for the issue of power to be brought up in the political environment and for it to be a central issue for any party or candidate who wants to be in governance.

Renewable Energy Future

Just like in other parts of the world, a hugely viable form of power production in Nigeria is renewable green energy. Crude oil is a finite source of power and will only be useful for so long. This is causing the cost of energy to rise in many parts of the world, and this trend is likely to continue in the future. The transition to natural resources is making oil products more expensive.

As renewable energy sources become cheaper and more efficient, it makes more sense to invest in these solutions sooner rather than later, although these solutions are still quite expensive when done at a large scale. If individuals invest in their own solar solutions to power their own homes and the state invests in larger solutions to power the grid, the shortfall can be handled quite efficiently.

Pros And Cons Of Renewable Energy

For Nigeria, the main forms of renewable energy that will be suitable include solar, wind, and nuclear energy. The great thing about these solutions is that they are a one-time investment. However, they all come with their own pros and cons.

Solar

Solar is a great option because it has extremely low maintenance costs and the hardware itself has a very long service life. The main downsides to this are that it’s obviously weather dependent, it takes quite a bit of space, and storing the energy from solar can be quite expensive. However, given the amount of sunlight that Nigeria receives throughout the year, it can be a great option to consider because a lot of energy can be produced this way.

Wind

Wind energy is another great option because it’s an extremely clean form of energy and its power production is not just limited to daylight hours. However, it’s very costly to install and can be expensive to maintain. While Nigeria does have the weather to benefit from this system, it might not be as effective as solar. Wind turbines need to be installed in areas that are far out from cities to get the most amount of wind. Being so far away from where the power is actually needed will reduce the ROI on the investment. Moreover, it can have a big impact on the local ecosystems, so it will be something that farmers won’t be very happy about.

Nuclear

Nuclear is another great option, but again the investment cost is extremely high. Moreover, maintenance also requires a lot of money and a skilled technical team. The main challenges with nuclear energy are the waste that it creates and the risk of extreme consequences if anything was to ever go wrong. Comparethemarket surveyed some of the perceptions of nuclear energy to see if there is consumer demand for this energy change, with mixed results. In terms of efficiency, this is the most efficient option out of all the renewable energy sources.

How Should the Nigerian Government Tackle an Upcoming Energy Crisis?

The power problem in Nigeria is not only limited to the production of energy. Every part of the process, starting from the rules and regulations that govern the power production process to the lines that transmit the energy to end users, needs to go through a complete overhaul. The overall energy framework is in need of improvement and the population is desperately waiting for a positive change.

With the elections just around the corner, it’s time that people put their needs in front of the candidates and see who can address their issues the best. Of all these matters, electricity should be the main focus as that is the energy that the country needs to move forward.