Power grid records 10 collapses this year

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The nation’s power grid has suffered its ninth total system collapse this year amid a lack of spinning reserve that is meant to forestall such occurrences.

This year, the national grid has so far recorded 10 collapses – nine total, while one was partial, the latest data obtained by newsmen from the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing on Friday showed.

According to the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, a total system collapse means total blackout nationwide, while partial system collapse is a failure of a section of the grid.

The latest total collapse occurred on Tuesday, September 4, 2018, while total electricity generation stood at 2,982.60 megawatts as of 6am on that day, down from 3,276MW on September 1.

The output from the nation’s power plants rose to 3,204.80MW on Wednesday, but fell to 2.915.90MW on Thursday, according to the data from the ministry.

A total generation capacity of 3,894.2MW was unavailable as of 6am on Thursday, compared to 4,187.30MW MW on September 1.

Gas constraints and low load demand by the distribution companies left 1,538.5MW and 2,355.70MW, respectively idle.

It was gathered that the power grid would remain vulnerable without adequate spinning reserves.

Spinning reserve is the generation capacity that is online but unloaded and that can respond within 10 minutes to compensate for generation or transmission outages.

Out of the five power stations meant to provide spinning reserves, none had any actual reserve as of 6am on Thursday, with the contracted reserve put at 295MW.

The power stations are Egbin, Delta, and the three built under the National Integrated Power Project scheme, namely Olorunsogo II, Geregu II and Omotosho II.

The regulator, NERC, had in its Third Quarter 2017 report highlighted the need for adequate proactive measure (adequate spinning reserves) to prevent the system from being destabilised.

It said, “The commission is determined to provide all regulatory intervention necessary to ensure that the Transmission Company of Nigeria procures sufficient spinning reserves.

“Thus, the commission is currently evaluating the adequacy of the already procured ancillary services (e.g. spinning reserves) by the transmission company in order to make sufficient provision during the next tariff review.”

It noted that based on the provisions of the grid code, the system frequency, under normal circumstances, was expected to be between a lower limit of 49.75Hz and an upper limit of 50.25Hz, while the range from 48.75 to 49.75Hz and from 50.25Hz to 51.25 were regarded as lower and upper stress boundaries, respectively.

The commission said it was well determined to provide the necessary regulatory interventions to ensure that the system frequency was kept within the statutory limits.

It stated, “Frequency fluctuation and other harmonic distortion result in poor power quality that could damage sensitive industrial machines that are connected at high voltage level. The commission is working with the TCN to ensure that system voltage and frequencies operate within the statutory limits.

“The financial liquidity of the electricity industry remains as the most significant challenge affecting the sustainability of the power sector. The major contributors to the financial crisis in the industry are tariff deficits, high technical and commercial losses exacerbated by customer apathy arising from estimated billing and poor quality of supply in most load centres.”

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