Govt turns to coal to generate additional 4,000MW of electricity

By The Rainbow

The federal government has announced plans to tap the 639million tonnes of coal reserves in Nigeria in order to generate an additional 4,000megawatts of electricity.

The Minister of Power, Professor Chinedu Nebo announced this in Abuja at the inauguration of an eight-member Coal to Power Committee, headed by Sanusi Garba.

Proven coal reserves in the country, according to statistics from the Ministry of Power, amount to about 639 million tons, while inferred reserves are in the region of 2.75 billion tons.

The Ministry of Power said it is targeting the generation of at least 4000 mega watts of electricity from coal in the nearest future.

To commence the process, a committee was inaugurated on Friday to identify the impediments to coal powered electricity generation and develop strategies for investment in coal power generation. The committee is also to develop a national framework for coal to power.

Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo, who inaugurated the committee in Abuja, emphasised the urgent need to diversify the fuel for power generation in Nigeria in line with global practice. He said his ministry was working with the Ministry of Mines and Steel to explore the nation's coal for power generation. Coal, he emphasized, provides an efficient source of fuel for base-load power plants.

'Nigeria is blessed with abundant deposits of coal spread in 13 states of the federation. Significant commercial quantities are evident in the belt spanning Enugu, Benue, Kogi, Nasarawa and Gombe,' he said.

He stressed how undeveloped virgin coal assets require detailed exploration work and development of infrastructure, noting that other coal files were currently being mined on skeletal basis.

Nebo recalled that Nigeria's generation mix currently consists of 70 per cent thermal plants and 30 per cent hydropower.

In an assessment of world average generation mix, he rated coal 41 per cent, gas 21 per cent, hydro 16 per cent, nuclear 13 per cent and oil five per cent, noting that Nigeria needs to key into the global trends.

According to him, 'when you look at the contribution of coal to power in some countries, you will realise that South Africa has 93 per cent, China 79 per cent, Poland 87 per cent, Australia 54 per cent, and USA 45 per cent.

He said the committee would 'review the status and adequacy of available studies and project documents relating to the establishment of coal fired power plants; examine the impediments and challenges to the development of coal fired power plants in the country and make recommendations towards facilitating investment in coal to power generation.'

Nebo added: 'The members of the committee will also liaise with other stakeholder agencies to review current initiatives of private investors on coal to power and advise on areas of possible support and collaboration with the ministry, and also make other recommendations towards facilitating the utilisation of coal for power generation.'

The Director of Power at the Ministry, Mr. Sanusi Garuba will head the committee.