• slider1
  • slider2
  • slider3
  • slider4
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4

Nigeria needs a power revolution, but where will the electricity come from? The energy sources in the country are many, including fossil materials such as oil, gas and coal – but renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and biomass are equally available in abundance. Christine K of the Heinrich Boell Foundation in Abuja lists facts and arguments.

In August 2014, Nigeria’s government declared that 30% of Nigeria’s electricity should come from coal. The country has significant coal reserves – currently it is estimated that Nigeria is host to 2.8 billion tonnes of high quality lignite coal, and although this is small compared to lignite top shot North America, which has almost 1,500 billion tonnes of lignite, it is a substantial natural resource lying under Nigerian soils, from the East all the way to the North. But how much of this resource does Nigeria want to extract? Is there a golden rule that says, ‘because you have it, you must use it’?

The implications of using coal for power generation are many, and are hardly discussed in Nigeria. The health implications are the most obvious. Coal combustion accounts for 250,000 deaths per year in China. In Europe, coal-fired power plants cause 2.1 million days on medication, 4.1 million lost working days and 28.6 million cases of respiratory complaints. And that is only on the side of power generation. Before the coal gets to the power plants, the mining operations bear their own kind of hazards. Mining accidents from coal dust explosion, flooding or collapsing shafts make sensational news. Much less light is shed on the permanent impacts coal mining has on host communities, which include loss of farmlands, pollution of ground and surface waters and health problems arising from coal dust inhalation.

Coal is often described as a cheap source of electricity. However, once the health costs, the resettlement of communities, the cleaning up of polluted waters and the reclamation of mining areas are counted, coal comes out roughly at the same cost as solar.

Looking at coal through a microscope in a chemical laboratory, what you see is pure carbon. It is the burning of this carbon in coal-fired power plants, during steel production and in many other industrial processes that has accumulated over the past 100 years and is now causing the global climate to warm up and the weather to become more extreme. This has a direct impact on Nigeria’s economic growth. Already, millions of farmers are facing shrinking harvests because their lands are degrading under a scorching sun; fishing villages have been swallowed up by rising sea levels and whole roads and towns have fallen into erosion gullies. It costs trillions of Naira to restore livelihoods and pacify conflicts arising from resource scarcity and migration.

Coal countries such as China or Germany are now trying to reduce coal operations within their borders. This does not entitle them to demand the same from other countries. However Nigeria would chart a more sustainable economic growth path if it observed very carefully what changes are happening in the global coal landscape, whether cheap coal is really cheap, whether clean coal is really clean, and whether extracting coal really provides a long-term answer to Nigeria’s electricity problems.

Nigeria has the choice: how to cut the country’s megawatt cake into percentages for energy sources such as gas, generators, solar, wind, hydro, biomass… and coal.


Christine K heads the Nigeria Office of the Heinrich Böll Foundation. Before joining the Foundation, she worked for the BBC as a radio producer (in Hausa) and as a journalism trainer. She has developed and run nationwide behaviour change campaigns in Nigeria. She's lived in Nigeria for more than 15 years (Kano, Lagos, Abuja) and is an Alumni of Bayero University Kano.


Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

  • Frank Whyte

    Nigeria has coal almost as much as the gas. The abundance of coal from the North East to the South south of Nigeria makes imperative for Nigeria to develop her coal resources for power putting in mind the current security challenges in the Niger Delta Region which account for the vast gas resources in Nigeria. Besides there are new coal power plants been build in Germany today while others are still operating in the USA, UK, Germany, India, Russia, Bulgaria and some other parts of Europe and Asia. Modern technology for coal are abound all over the World. So limiting Nigeria to the use of Coal for Power is doing injustice to the Country. For Europe and America to insist that Nigeria should not use her abundance coal resources for power is wicked and uncalled for. We must at this stage use all resources available to create infrastructural development the country so needed. I appeal to all international communities to assist Nigeria in trying to develop her industries and to be self sufficient in her power generation to boost the economy. Any country that does not want Nigeria to develop her coal resources is not a very friendly country. So am appealling that Nigeria should be allowed to try with the modern technologies from Europe and America.

  • poynterjeffrey

    Thank you for this wonderful blog. I seen this first time in this blog. It is really interesting. Keep sharing such new information.

    Comment last edited on about 2 years ago by hbs Nigeria & NESG SPC

Post comment as a guest

Attachments

Location

Share:
0


Nigeria‘s population of about 170 million people share 4,000 Megawatt of electricity between them. That amounts to about 3 light bulbs per person. However, Nigeria sees itself as a future world economic power. So how is Nigeria going to power its envisaged economic growth? What is Nigeria’s energy future?

Save

ABOUT US

This web portal is the online presence of the Alliance on Nigeria's Energy Future, a discussion platform aimed at broadening knowledge of, and deepening public dialogue on, the possibilities of leapfrogging into a cleaner energy future in Nigeria. The Alliance aims to provide information and insights, and organise exchange of views between citizens, politicians, private sector, experts and civil society organizations on the various options for a sustainable future energy mix for Nigeria. Hosted by the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), this website is facilitated by the Heinrich Böll Foundation, in partnership with other member-organisations of the Alliance.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save