The Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo has said the federal government is working out a sustainable framework to ensure profitability on future investments in the coal-to-power aspect of Nigeria’s electricity mix.
Nebo stated recently in Abuja that the decision to first develop a bankable framework for coal-to-power investments in the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) was informed by the need to avoid possible flip-flops in project initiation and execution by promoters.
“We do not have infinite coal deposit, so we have to plan well for utilisation of the deposit that we have, that is why we have to initiate processes to develop a bankable framework for coal-to-power initiative. We want to ensure that we do not start projects that we cannot finish in the coal-to-power aspect of our energy mix,” Nebo said, while addressing a gathering of energy economists at the just concluded 7th Annual Nigerian Association for Energy Economists (NAEE)/International Association for Energy Economists (IAEE) conference.
He also assured potential investors in the power sector of government’s commitment to the coal-to-power initiative, which was aimed at utilising the abundant coal reserves that spread across nine different states in the country; Enugu, Gombe, Kogi and Nasarawa amongst others.
The minister equally told the Chairman of ETA Zuma Group, Dr. Innocent Ezuma who was at his office on a visit that there is a seeming confusion on the quantum of coal available in Nigeria, thus, the government’s decision to officially ascertain the size of coal reserves in the country.
He stated that Nigeria must pursue its energy mix strategy now to guarantee it security of energy use, adding that at least 30 per cent of the country’s energy requirement should be provided by coal.
While expressing satisfaction with what the indigenous ETA Zuma Group is doing in the coal-to-power equation, Nebo also urged other investors to take advantage of the existing gap in Nigeria’s power sector and invest in various sources of electricity generation and distribution.
He stated that the quality of coal exploration data provided by ETA Zuma Group indicated that the company was serious with its foray into coal-to-power.
“The 380 million tonnes of high grade coal available for exploration have shown that Zuma has enough proven reserves to service its power plants for a minimum of 30 years,” Nebo stated as he assured the company of a ready market for all the coal that could be mined considering that coal can equally be used for domestic purposes.
He said that: “The security of a nation’s energy mix is important, that is why Nigerian government will leave no stone unturned to fully utilise its coal-to-power potentials.”
Ezuma had earlier in his presentation stated that the first phase of the proposed coal power plant will attract an investment of about $3 billion. He also noted that the plant when completed is expected to use clean coal technology known as Circulating Fludiced Bed Technology (CFB) which meets the World Bank requirement on the protection of the environment through its permissible emission level.
Ezuma also said that the processes for financing of the project has attained an advanced stage, adding that construction will last about four years from the kickoff date of which is scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2014.
The proposed 1200 megawatts (MW) capacity coal-fired power plant is located in Itobe-Kogi State. It will be an on-grid coal power plant with options for further expansion of its installed capacity to 3,000MW.