Vanguard (Lagos)

Nigeria and Quest for Nuclear Power Energy in the 21st Century (II)

opinion

This is the second instalment of the open letter to the Nigerian Governors Forum. The first part was published yesterday.

HISTORICAL Overview of Nigeria's Electricity and Thermal Power Generations

The policy paper shall further undertake a historical exposition of Nigeria's electricity generation which saw emergence of hydro and thermal power stations nationwide. The Nigerian National Electricity Power Policy, a publication of the National Council on Privatisation, under the Presidency, Office of the Vice President, Federal Republic of Nigeria, articulated body of thoughts in year 2001 into a policy document.

Electricity generation in Nigeria is said to have began in 1896. By 1929, the Nigerian Electricity Supply Company (NESCO) commenced operation as an electricity utility company in Nigeria reinforced by the construction of a hydro electric power station at Kurra Far near Jos. By 1951, the Electricity Corporation of Nigeria (ECN) came on board, while the first 132KV line was said to have been constructed in 1962, linking Ijora Power Station to Ibadan Power Station respectively.

Electricity generation

Furthermore, the history of electricity generation in Nigeria was given a boost with the establishment of the Niger Dams Authority (NDA) in 1962 with the mandate to develop the hydro power potentials of the country. However, ten years later, by 1972, the two existing parastatals on the nation's electricity power sector (ECN and NDA cited above) were merged to give way to the emergence of the National Electricity Power Authority (NEPA). By 1998, the exclusive monopoly NEPA exercised over electricity generation, transmission, distributed and sales had ceased.

In addition, the National Electricity Power Policy 2001 (NEPP) revealed the nation's electricity supply infrastructure where it disclosed the then national electricity grid, which consisted of nine generating stations namely - (three hydro and six thermal power stations) with a total installed generating capacity of 5906MW as can be seen below:

a) Kainji Hydro Power Station located in Niger State along the River Niger was the first Hydro Power Station in the country. The 8 generating units were said to have been commissioned as (i) 4 x 80MW in 1968; (ii) 2 x 10MW in 1976 and (iii) 2 x 120MW in 1978 respectively.

b) Jebba Hydro Power Station located in the present Kwara State, said to be downstream Kainji Hydro Power Station, has 6 units commissioned in 1986

c) Shiroro Hydro Power Station also located in Niger State along the Kaduna River, has four generating units commissioned as 2 x 150MW (1989); 3 x 150MW (1990) respectively.

Afam thermal station

d) Afam Thermal Power Station located in Rivers State, uses natural gas, started operation in 1965 with 6 units and commissioned as: 2 x 10.5MW (1965); 2 x 17.5MW (1965); 4 x 23MW (1976); 4 x 27MW (1978); 6 x 75MW (1982) respectively.

e) Delta Thermal Power Station located in Ughelli, Delta State, also uses natural gas and started operation in 1965m with 6 units and commissioned as follows: 2 x 36MW (1966); 6 x 20MW (1975); 6 x 20MW (1978); 1 x 100MW (1989); 5 x 10MW (1990) respectively.

f) Egbin Thermal Power Station located in Lagos State, described as the largest in the country has 3 units and commissioned as follows: 2 x 220MW (1985); 2 x 220MW (1986); 2 x 220MW (1987) respectively.

g) Sapele Thermal Power Station located in Ogorode, Delta State uses both steam and gas turbines with 2 units commissioned as follows: 6 x 120MW (1978) and 4 x 75MW (1981) respectively.

h) Ijora Thermal Power Station located in Lagos State, uses AGO fuel and has 3 units commissioned as follows: 3 x 20MW (1978).

i) Oji Thermal Power Station located on the Oji River in Enugu State, being the only coal-powered station in the country, with 4 unites commissioned as follows: 2 x 5MW (1956) and 2 x 10MW (1956) respectively.

Nigeria quest for nuclear power energy; historical perspective: Generally, we have presented a picture of the nation's electricity power generation with the emergent infrastructures that came on board to actualized Nigeria's objective of ensuring that "the nation's electricity supply industry meet the needs of the populace in the 21st century." This fundamental objective propelled the aspiration for a nuclear power energy policy in 1976 when the Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission (NAEC) was established, but went into limbo until year 2006 before it was officially inaugurated.

Analysts attributed the slow pace in the nation's nuclear power energy development to press reports of nuclear power energy related disasters particularly, the Chernobyl (Ukrainian) disaster of 1986 ranked the seventh on the International Nuclear Event Scale (INES), blamed on human error. According to this school of thought, many other nations of the world were discouraged from venturing into the risky nuclear powered energy industry as an alternative source of electricity generation, Nigeria not excluded from this fear as well.

However, despite this noted disaster in 1986, the then Federal Government of Nigeria established two nuclear research centres namely: The Centre for Energy Research and Development (CERD) located at the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) and the second, the Centre for Energy Research and Training (CERT) domiciled at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, the two centres were earlier brought under the supervision of the Energy Commission of Nigeria, but later brought together under the Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission (NAEC) respectively.

The nation's quest for nuclear power energy was said to receive a boost with the establishment of the Sheda Science and Technology Complex (SHESTCO) in 1991 with the mandate to conduct research for the development of nuclear energy. Also the establishment of the Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NMRA) by the Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection Act No 19 of 1995, charged with the task to ensure the protection of life, property and environment from harmful effects of ionizing radiation. The Act is said to further mandated the NNRA to provide training, information and guidance on nuclear safety and radiation protection in the country generally.

Furthermore, in year 2004, Nigeria had a Chinese-origin Nuclear Research Reactor (NIRR) installed at the Ahmadu Bello University Zaria. The successful operation of the facility had demonstrated to the international community Nigeria's capacity to regulate a critical assembly. Similarly, in the areas of emergency response, NNRA is said to have acquired a mobile vehicle based equipped with facilities for Emergency Radiation System for timely response to any radiological cases/accident.

The inauguration of the Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission (NAEC) by President Goodluck Jonathan late year 2011 with Dr. Erepamo Osaisai as its Chairman as well as the commissioning of the nation's Research Hostel and Conference Centre at the Nuclear Technology Centre, Sheda, FCT Abuja on Thursday June 28, 2012 equally demonstrates Nigeria's zeal for Nuclear Powered energy in the 21st Century.

Nigeria re-affirmed commitment to nuclear power energy for peaceful purposes: Mindful of the controversy nuclear power energy development has been generating in the present world order, President Goodluck Jonathan was said to have assured the international community that Nigeria's pursuit of nuclear technology was only for peaceful purpose. This remark was conveyed by the Vice President Namadi Sambo at the commissioning of the Researcher's Hostel and Conference Centre located at the Nuclear Technology Centre, Sheda, FCT, Abuja on Thursday 28th June, 2012. President Jonathan was said to have observed that "Apart from the generation of electricity, nuclear energy finds ready peaceful applications in agriculture and food security, human health and medicine, water resources management, industry and in basic and applied science research".

Analytical and planning tools

The President further noted that "the decision to introduce nuclear power into our energy mix was made after lengthy and meticulous process, which involved the use of analytical and planning tools, with the cooperation and assistance of the International Atomic Energy Commission (IAEA)".

Thus, the project being commissioned that day, President Jonathan asserted that, "it is also an affirmation of his administration's strong belief that the frontiers as socio-economic development are within the reach of any determined and committed society driven by science and technology" (Sheda, (2012) Ibid. p.1). This remark should represent the nation's objectives and direction in nuclear power energy for the 21st century.

The proceeding paragraphs shall attempt to examine some selected contentious/disputed nuclear power energy development programme case studies in the present world order to safeguard against similar problems by Nigeria in our quest for nuclear power energy in the future.

Mallam Maiyaki is of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA),Lagos.

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