Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Explaining the hydropower dilemma/Nigeria

Explaining the hydropower dilemma

Thursday, 14 June 2012 00:00 AMETO AKPE

An estimated 20percent of global power supply is hydroelectric. In
Nigeria, around 30 percent of electricity is generated from hydro
stations; representing the only renewable energy resource commercially
exploited in the country.
Hydropower plants convert the potential energy in a body of water into
electrical energy using a turbine and a generator.

According to the Federal Government, huge constraints in hydro power
generation have contributed to the decline in power availability
across the country since the first week of March, this year.

Minister of Power, Barth Nnaji, speaking at a conference in Abuja
explained that, �It is unfortunate that we are experiencing, this
year, the lowest water levels in 10 years in the dams at Shiroro,
Kainji and Jeba; where the nation�s three hydro stations are located.
With low water levels, very little power electricity can be generated
from them.�

The current water problem in the dams arose from the near drought last
year in neighboring West African countries from where Nigeria derives
the so-called black flood. This flood gets to its peak every November
while the white flood, which refers to flood, derived from within the
Nigerian territory, which gets to its peak annually in July.

According to experts, unstable rainfall due to climate change means
the water levels in most of Nigeria�s hydro station are reducing. Also
worrisome, according to them, is the reported plan by the Republic of
Niger to dam the River Niger upstream of Nigeria, hence potentially
threatening the Kainji and Jebba power stations which are located
along the River Niger downstream of Niger Republic.

Nnaji said, �It is our tough luck that we are experiencing our worst
water levels in 10 years because of the poor rainy season last year in
neighboring countries from which we derive black flood for the hydro
plants. The white flood refers to flood derived during the rainy
season in Nigeria, which gets to its climax in July of every year,
unlike the black flood, which gets to its peak in November.�

However, according to the minister, �the good news is that we are
devising a method to ensure availability of sufficient water in the
dams all year round, whether there is a near drought in Nigeria or in
any part of the West African sub region from where we derive floods to
run the hydro stations.�

Nnaji says that before the end of July, there will be a remarkable
improvement in power supply across the nation, assuring of improved
supply from the hydro stations.

�Unlike in the past when there would be an improvement in power supply
in one month only for it to dip the next month, the improvement this
time will not be reversible. It can only get better, from month to
month and from year to year,� the minister assures.

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