Load Shedding: Why it will continue

Load shedding is a controlled switching off of parts of a network in a non overlapping manner in order to prevent a complete shutdown of the grid. Its primary cause is a lack of insufficient power to supply everybody at once or inadequate transmission infrastructure to deliver the generated power. In more organized climes where load shedding is practiced due to under capacity system, outage schedules are made public to inform each area of the hours they would be experiencing a power cut. In developing countries, and especially in Nigeria, outages are unpredictable and happen without warning for the most part and may last longer than expected.

Here is why load shedding will continue in Nigeria: the total installed generation capacity is 12,522 MW, but average operational generation capacity is just 3,879MW of which 7.4% is lost in transmission, and up to 27.7% load is rejected at distribution. This leaves Nigeria with just about 2,519MW. Yet, Nigeria’s electricity demand is estimated at around 25,000MW. This puts so much strain on the few hydro power and gas fired plants operated by the GENCOs. To prevent a complete shut down of the grid, load shedding must be brought into play. The Nigerian energy demand is expected to rise significantly as the population keeps growing at a rate twice the global average and as the rate of urbanization continues to increase.

At a NESI stakeholders’ meeting in Abuja last month, it was declared that investments of over $100bn would be required over the next 20 years, to achieve a 24-hour daily supply in the country and eliminate load shedding. The bulk of that money would have to go into addressing the infrastructural constraints (obsolete generation plants, poorly maintained transmission and distribution networks), Reduction of ATC&C losses, metering of users to reduce electricity theft and improve debt recovery. a strict enforcement of rules and policies within the NESI would also help sustain any gains made in the long run.

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