Nigeria’s National Power Grid

Transmission Company of Nigeria


Nigeria’s national power grid connects power generation stations to electrical loads throughout the country. It is a system that is comprised of power generation companies, power distribution companies, and the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN). More than 23 electricity-generating plants are connected to the power grid. While electricity generation and distribution are permitted to be done by private companies, only the federal government serves as the middleman transmitting generated electricity to distribution companies.

The reliability of the national power grid has often been questioned. This is not unrelated to the fact that over the past 12 years (2010 to June 2022), the power grid has collapsed 222 times at the minimum. This number takes into consideration both partial and total grid collapse.[1] In 2022, the grid collapsed seven times from January to September 2022.[2] Reasons for the partial and total collapse include grid instability which occurs when demand for electricity does not match its supply; overly volatile loads especially from steel mills; the TCN’s weak and old infrastructure; the absence of a majority of the transition lines.[3] In June 2022, protesting electricity workers under the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) engaged in a strike action resulting in a shutdown of the grid, thus causing similar outcomes as when there is a grid collapse. Following a grid collapse incidence, the National Control Centre (NCC) typically works to restore it.

In terms of power generation, most of Nigeria’s electricity is currently generated using gas technology. This is complemented by hydropower-generating sources representing 20% of electricity generation.[4] Power plants’ combustion processes in Nigeria produce direct CO2 emissions. Apart from direct emissions, there are also indirect CO2 emissions from other accompanying activities connected to the production of electricity. Typically, these indirect emissions happen away from the thermal power plants’ location. They include emissions from the extraction, production, and conveyance of fuels used by thermal power plants. Other emissions related to the operation of the national grid are from private generators. Due to the instability of the power grid, Nigerians often resort to personal power generators for their homes and businesses. Emissions from a privately-owned 5kW diesel-powered generator are estimated to be double the emissions from a coal power plant that might produce approximately 1,000 gCO2/kWh. As it exists today, the power grid is, therefore, unlikely to foster the reduction of emissions. To meet Nigeria’s future energy demands, research has established that gas and oil power plants remain the best choice where the country has no GHG reduction commitments. However, considering Nigeria’s commitment to the Paris Agreement, the ideal choice is nuclear energy to meet its future energy demands. While renewable energy sources like solar have often been suggested as viable options to provide cleaner off-grid electricity, they are also regarded as insufficient to meet the country’s long-term energy needs in the future.

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This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard Nigeria Country Manager Oluwatoyin Oladapo


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