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Private operator takes over Zungeru plant

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By Usman Oladimeji

Nigeria's power generation capabilities will be enhanced to meet demand.

Penstock Limited, a private operator, now manages the Zungeru Hydroelectric Power Plant as the Federal Government officially handed over operations. This strategic move is expected to enhance Nigeria’s power generation capabilities. The handover was disclosed during the 2024 debut session of the National Council on Privatisation (NCP) held at the Presidential Villa in Abuja. With this, Nigeria’s power generation is set to receive a significant boost, which will help meet the increasing energy demands within the country.

During the meeting, the NCP provided a progressive update on the Zungeru Hydroelectric Power Plant (ZHPP) concession, highlighting the successful transfer of operational control to Penstock Limited. The signing of the Concession Agreement took place on December 13, 2023, between the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) and Penstock Limited. Subsequently, upon Council approval, Penstock Limited made a payment of 50 percent of the commencement fees on January 5, 2024. On January 23, 2024, the plant’s operations were officially transferred to Penstock Limited during the formal handover ceremony.

This project will generate power, offer flood protection.

Zungeru plant is a massive hydropower project, considered one of the largest projects in Africa to receive a favourable loan from the Export-Import Bank (Exim Bank) of China. This project will not only generate power, but also offer flood protection and water for irrigation purposes. The Zungeru hydropower plant, with a capacity of 700 MW, is expected to produce around 2.64 billion kWh of electricity annually, fulfilling nearly 10% of Nigeria’s overall domestic energy demand.

The Zungeru hydropower project is situated along the Kaduna River in Niger State. It is a massive hydroelectric plant constructed by a Chinese partnership between Sinohydro Corporation Limited and China National Electric Engineering Company. Also, the project aims to offer flood management, irrigation, and support for water supply and fish cultivation. The funding came mostly from a loan secured from the Exim Bank of China (75 percent), with the Nigerian central government contributing the remaining 25 percent.

It will transfer generated power to established grids.

Across the peak construction phase, the project is anticipated to create job opportunities for over 2,000 individuals. It encompasses a 90-meter tall and 1,090-meter long roller-concrete compacted dam, an intake tower, diversion tunnel, underground powerhouse, power transmission line, and access road. The Federal Government of Nigeria had announced in early November 2022 the initial phase of a two-part selection process to choose the concessionaire responsible for the operation, management, and maintenance of the power station during its first 30 years of commercial operation.

At that time, the power station was nearly 96 percent completed, with commercial commissioning planned in the first quarter of 2023. The Project boasts various components such as a composite dam incorporating roller compacted concrete (RCC), rock-fill dams, diversion infrastructure, spillway with plunge pool, power intake with penstocks, hydroelectric power facility, tail race channel, switchyards, and transmission lines of 330/132KV, facilitating the transfer of generated power to the established grid that links Jebba and Shiroro 330kV power stations and Tegina 132KV Substation.

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Furthermore, the hydroelectric power plant consists of four Francis turbine units operating at a net nominal head of 92m, nominal flow of 220cu.m/sec and rated speed of 107.1rpm. The design specifies a 233-meter (764 ft) long and 101-meter (331 ft) high roller-compacted concrete dam. The reservoir capacity is planned to be 10.4 billion m3 of water. Two high voltage lines will transport the energy produced: a 135kV line to Kainji Dam and a double circuit 330kV line linking the Shiroro and Jebba dams. This power will then be incorporated into the Nigerian electricity grid.

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