Niger state has decided to start construction of 600 megawatt (MW) capacity hydro electric power project in Zungeru. The effort is bid to reduce over dependence on gas for power generation in Nigeria. The Power Holding Company of Nigeria PLC (PHCN) has also embarked on massive rehabilitation of the country’s existing hydro power stations, including Kainji, in addition to $135 million World Bank assisted rehabilitation work going on at the power station.

Kainji power station, with 760 MW installed capacity, is currently generating 580 MW.

PHCN Managing Director and Executive Vice Chairman of its Board, Alhaji Bello Suleiman said that the rehabilitation work and improved gas supply within the last few days have increased the country’s current electricity generating capacity from 2,400 MW to 3,100 MW.

“The design for the Zungeru Hydro has been completed and we are about to begin construction work on the project. The last administration awarded the contract without any design but now, we have designed the project,” Suleiman said.

“Zungeru Hydro Station is the downstream of Shiroro Hydro Station; that is, they are on the same river. Water from Shiroro will go down to Zungeru, just as Jebba is the downstream of Kainji,” Suleiman added.

Suleiman continued that due to the effective water management system put in place by PHCN, the generating capacity of Jebba has improved considerably.

“Hydro Power Stations are not designed to generate power at all time of the year because they required a particular volume of water for operation; but because we manage the water effectively, Jebba is generating quite high at the moment. All the machines are working,” Suleiman said.

Suleiman also said that the supply of gas to the various gas-fired power plants in the country had improved within the last few days.

Suleiman disclosed that the generating capacity of Egbin power station in Lagos and the AES also in Lagos have improved to 850 MW as against the 200 MW both plants generated few weeks ago.

Sapele power station has 1,020 MW capacity, but does not generate electricity at the moment due to lack of gas supply.

Afam power station has installed capacity of 987 MW but at present generates less than 400 MW.

Egbin power station at present is geenrating 600 MW even though it has installed capacity of 1,320 MW.

PHCN had disclosed in 2008 to the House of Representatives Committee on Power and Steel that about NGN80 billion was required by all the seven power stations in the country to operate at maximum capacity.