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Grid to get 10mw from Katsina wind farm 8 years after

After eight years, the national electricity grid will be receiving at least 10 megawatts (mw) from the Katsina Wind Farm in Lambar Rimi community as it is expected to be commissioned this month.

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Daily Trust in this piece analyses the project’s process which was started as a pilot scheme in 2010 and which has taken eight years to complete; apparently six years behind schedule. 

The contractors, last week, said a part of the plant comprising nine operational turbines will be commissioned this month, while the others will be completed before the year ends.

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If this timeline is achieved, the plant will become the second renewable energy source injected into the national grid after the 1.2MW on-grid solar plant at the Lower Usuma Dam in the Federal Capital Territory; a project worth N3.3bn and donated by the Japanese Government to Nigeria.

The Katsina Wind Power project was initiated by the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua when he was governor of the state, but was subsequently transferred to the Federal Government after he became president in 2007.

How abduction stalled project for years

The project, estimated at about N4.4bn (although more funds have been appropriated for it in the last two years) is sited at Lambar Rimi in Rimi Local Government Area of the state. ýIt was awarded to a French firm, Messrs Vergnet SA, in 2010 and was scheduled for completion in 2012.

However, the lead contractor, Francis Collomp, of the French firm, was abducted in 2013 which then stalled the project at 90 per cent completion, officials told this paper. Even after his release a year after, the contractors were said to have developed cold feet towards continuing with it. 

The power ministry in August, 2014, commissioned a technical audit of the plant while transferring the contract to a Nigerian firm trained in France after the original contractors wavered. A former President, Goodluck Jonathan, also visited the site in April, 2014, and directed that the project be sped up.

“We joined another company with the original contractor since the first company refused to come back; so another company took over the job and it is about 95 per cent completed,” a former Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Godknows Igali, told our reporter.

Some of the equipment for replacing defectives are said to have been imported since October 2015, four months after the third date slated for commissioning the plant failed.

Nigeria’s energy mix journey

The Federal Government is targeting the generation of 30 per cent of Nigeria’s electricity from renewable energy sources by year 2030 when the national grid would have hit 30,000MW.

The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, who launched the energy policy document in 2016 said the plan became imperative in the face of over-dependence on gas-to-power and the unabated vandals’ activities that often limited the gas power plants due to gas cuts.

The ministry’s Director of Energy Resources, Engr. Emmanuel Ajayi, said the document, “The Nigerian Power Sector Investment Opportunities and Guidelines” launched in July 2016 projects a diversified electricity grid of 10,325MW by 2019 comprising 25 per cent renewable energy contribution. The breakdown shows that 10 per cent will come from solar power, 12 per cent of Large Hydro Power (LHP), two per cent of Small Hydro Power (SHP), and one per cent of Coal, the guideline stated. It targets 30,000MW by 2030 with an energy mix of 55 per cent gas-to-power. The renewable energy sources will include 16 per cent of solar, 15 per cent of LHP, and four per cent from coal. Others are four per cent from SHP, four per cent from biomass, and three per cent from wind.  

Katsina wind farm completion, a plus

The 10MW Katsina Wind Farm could be a plus if it is achieved this year before the energy mix timeline of injecting wind power from 2019. The project consists of 37 units of wind turbine that could generate about 275 kilowatts (KW) of power, and mounted at a height of 55 metres each. 

Some of the already fabricated and erected turbines were operational when our reporters visited the site last week. The consultant and Assistant Project Manager for O.T. Otis Engineering, Pius Onyenagubo, said the operational part would be commissioned this month. 

“The 15 fully installed turbines will be commissioned by the end of March while the others will be commissioned by the end of the year,” Onyenagubo said. 

He noted that nine of the 15 installed turbines were operational and delivered 4.5MW already on a test run, while six others required some minimal maintenance. 

Four of the uninstalled turbines were vandalised with most of the wires carted away. When operational, the generated power will be sent through the Liyafa Injection Substation and will supply electricity to the nearby communities. 

The Director, Energy Resources at the ministry (Power), Olatunbosun Owoeye, said the ministry would clear outstanding payments and provide access road to facilitate the entire completion this year. 

“So we hope it will be completed by the end of the year as stated by the contractor since we now have a budget,” Owoeye who represented the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, said.

Responding, the Katsina State Governor, who was represented by his Special Adviser on Energy and Power, Engr. Mansur Mohammed Musa, re-assured of their commitment to see the project commissioned. 

He said, “If it’s realised, it will improve the social and economic life of the people as the situation of power in Katsina is really bad.”

More hurdles for the plant

Even as officials are hopeful of commissioning the plant, there are three more hurdles to cross. The project’s manager said the challenges were lack of metering, vandalism of turbine cables and lack of access road. He said there was yet to be a meter that would measure what was being generated into the national grid through the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN). This was also the challenge of the 1.2MW Lower Usuma Dam Solar Plant in the FCT when Daily Trust visited it recently.  Although it generates excess power to the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) network, there is yet to be any measurement for that.

On why metering for the solar plant delayed, an official of the ministry’s renewable energy and rural power access said the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) had to pass a regulation that allowed solar and renewable energy plants to import metering facilities.

On solving the Katsina Wind Plant challenge, Owoeye said the ministry was addressing the vandalism issue, assuring that government was working towards providing the access road in time, as the meter still posed a challenge. 

“We are trying to address the issue of vandalism and inadequate payment as each cable being vandalised with about 50 metres each which will cost government a lot of money. So the power generated is being benefitted by the Kano DisCo since there is no meter to determine the power being generated,” he said. 

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