Partial Grid Collapse and Nigeria’s Worsening Power Crisis
By Umar Farouk Ahmad

TECHDIGEST – On April 8, 2022, the national electricity grid suffered a system collapse. And it happened not once, but twice in a spate of three hours.

Authorities of the Power Ministry attributed the incident to vandalization. Many parts of the country were thrown into darkness as a result of a resultant power outage.

The grid, which has collapsed five times this year came, exacerbated the challenges facing the country.

The vandalism, which led to the recent grid collapse, happened on a transmission tower on the Odukpani – Ikot Ekpene 330kV double circuit transmission line.

In the wake of the incident, 400MW out of 5000MW of the power produced from the grid was lost.

According to Isa Sanusi, spokesperson to the Minister of Power, Abubakar Aliyu, “This consequently led to a cascade of plants shut down across the country.”

For the benefit of hindsight, the recent grid ‘crumbling’ was a partial system collapse.

Surprisingly, many people think national grid collapse results in a total blackout. But it is not so in reality.

According to the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), the grid collapse is divided into two basically; which include the total grid collapse and the partial grid collapse.

The total system collapse according to NERC means a total blackout nationwide while the partial system collapse is a failure of the section of the grid.

In terms of the effects of a grid collapse, a blackout leads to many problems, including heavy economic losses, and power system equipment damage, among others.

What is Electric Power System ?

An electric power system is a network of electrical components deployed to supply, transfer, and use electric power.

An example of a power system is the electrical grid that provides power to homes and industries within an extended area.

The electrical grid can be broadly divided into the generators that supply the power, the transmission system that carries the power from the generating centers to the load centers, and the distribution system that feeds the power to nearby homes and industries.

National Grid

A national grid is a network of electrical transmission lines connecting several generating stations to loads over a wide area.

It is designed to operate within certain limits, stability limits, in line with voltage, current, and frequency.

So, whenever these limits are out of the stability range, the operation of the grid will become unstable and can then collapse.

It could also mean a total or partial loss of power on the network, usually caused by a fault significant enough to lead to high frequency.

Weather conditions can also affect the distribution network causing grid instability.

National Grid System in Nigeria

Nigeria has 30 power generating plants connected to the national grid with the capacity to generate 13,500 MW of electricity.

These plants are managed by generating companies (Gencos), independent power providers, and Niger Delta Holding Company.

The grid, managed by the government-owned Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), distributes 4,000 MW, very much less than the 40,000 MW needed to sustain the basic needs of the population.

This deficit is also worsened by unannounced load shedding, partial and total system collapse, and power failure.

To meet demand, many households and businesses resort to purchasing generating sets to power their properties, this source of energy provided 6,000 MW in 2008.

Causes of Power Grid Collapse

Natural disasters have always been the root of the world’s severe power outages. Floods, earthquakes, etc. can fully destroy critical power infrastructures and result in a power outage.

Dust also creates havoc and leads to power outages. Sealed circuit boxes can help in protecting critical electrical equipment and can help in preventing unplanned power outages.

Also, animals coming into contact with the power lines, such as large birds, cause Power outages.

The other causes were primarily man-made outages that show up in the form of vandalism, and vehicle and construction accidents with power poles.

Solutions to Grid Collapse

The smart power grid is the best solution to power grid collapse. It can monitor itself using digital technology. This allows it to balance power loads, troubleshoot outages, and manage distribution without the need for direct intervention from a technician.

Also, Higher voltage lines must be built to catch up with the rising demand imposed by ever-increasing air conditioners, computers, and rechargeable gadgets.

Farouk, a Graduate of Electrical Engineering, Wrote From Wuye, Abuja.
[email protected]

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