12 Pages, Grade: B
BRIEF HISTORY OF COAL USE IN NIGERIA ENERGY MIX
ENVIRONMENTAL SAFETY OF COAL USE IN ELECTRICITY GENERATION
EXTANT LAWS IN NIGERIA THAT REGULATE ELECTRICITY
LEGISLATION AND REGULATIONS ON EFFICIENT COAL USE IN ELECTRICITY GENERATION IN OTHER JURISDICTIONS.
People’s Republic of China
The United States of America
NEW PROPOSAL ON LEGAL AND REGULATORY FRAMEWORK FOR COAL USE IN THE ENERGY MIX IN NIGERIA
Access to energy in the form of electricity undoubtedly plays an important role in nation’s growth, economic development, healthcare delivery, addressing energy poverty, supporting urbanization, delivering competitive energy to developing and developed countries alike and generally human well–being. There are different sources of electricity; and generation of electricity from them equally affect human well– being and the environment. Some of the notable sources of electricity or energy are: solar, fossil fuels, biogas, solid biomass, nuclear, hydropower. This work attempts to examine the environmental safety of coal use vis-a -vis power provision in Nigeria.
Coal is a fossil fuel formed from decomposition of organic materials subjected to geological heat and pressure for millions of years. It is considered a non– renewable energy source because it cannot be replenished within human time frame. Coal is a combustible black or brownish – black sedimentary rock normally occurring in rock strata in layers or vein called coal beds or coal steams.
The United States Energy Information Administration highlighting the importance and cheaper cost of coal in energy mix states that global consumption is likely to increase by 48%from 6 .7 million metric tons to an estimated 9. 98 billion short tons by 2030. Coal as an energy source contributes about 30% of the United States of America electricity generation, 93% of South Africa electricity generation, and 79% of the People’s Republic of China electricity generation. Going by this statistics and the fact that coal is cheap source for electricity generation, it is safe to assert that Nigeria has the potentials to produce cheaper electricity to solve its dearth of electricity generation and supply using coal.
It is perhaps these factors that led to the pronouncement of a former Minister of Power – Professor Chinedu Nebo that Nigeria can generate about 5, 000 megawatts of its electricity from coal. The main source of electricity in Nigeria is hydropower and natural gas with an estimated output of about 4, 500 megawatts.
Electricity generation began in Nigeria in the year 1896. However significant discovery of coal in Nigeria occurred in 1909 at Enugu, ever since then coal played a vital role in Nigeria energy mix as it was used to power trains in the Nigerian Railways transportation system, it was also used in the steel industry and cement industry. Coal was also mined and exported in commercial quantities until the 1950s when oil was discovered. Gradually, the Railway Corporation began replacing coal powered trains with diesel powered trains; likewise the Electricity Corporation of Nigeria began converting its coal generating equipment to diesel and gas.
Nigeria has an estimated coal reserves of 2 billion metric tons, however, with the exploration of oil and natural gas, the exploiting and mining of coal has declined greatly. Recently, the Minister of Power – Professor Chinedu Nebo signed several memoranda of understanding with companies to permit them to exploit and mine coal for purposes of electricity generation.
According to the former Minister, “those who do not want us to develop our coal, developed all their engineering technology, manufacturing and industries from coal, even today, coal still constitutes a substantial part of their energy needs.” The Minister of Power stated further that the Federal Government is determined to fast – track coal for power by directing the Ministry of Mines and Steel to issue licences to companies to exploit coal particularly in the area of generating power.
It is however noteworthy that though Nigeria generates electricity using natural gas, she has a natural gas reserve that is estimated to take about a 100 years to be fully exploited as coal is generally cheaper than natural gas. The paradox however is that natural gas fired power plants are generally cheaper to build than coal – fired power plants and natural gas – fired power plants tend to have higher efficiencies and greater flexibility in plant operations.
Although coal is a cheap source for electricity generation, there is abundant evidence that the use of coal in electricity generation from mining to post – combustion stage has negative impact on human health and the environment at large. Some of these negative effects of coal on human health and the environment include: air pollution, noise and water pollution, soil erosion, climate change, cancer, respiratory problems. Coal also creates environmental problems at various stages of its operation; i.e., mining, transportation, stock piling, coal preparation and utilization stages of the operation.
Air pollution - Combustion from coal power plants releases sulphur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides, these eventually lead to acid rains and acidic aerosols (extremely fine air – borne particulates). Large much of particulates matters arising from coal combustion in power plants also causes smog which affects local visibility, and dust problems which in the long run affects human respiratory systems. More so, air pollution from coal power plants affects respiratory and cardiovascular systems, causes abnormal neurological development in children, poor growth of the foetus before birth, and cancer.
Water pollution - Like many other minerals that are mined from the beneath the earth surface when coal is mined there are several materials chemical and otherwise associated with it like clay, sand, sulphur and trace elements, these materials have to be washed off the coal before using the coal. Most times the water used in washing the coal is allowed to run into lakes, rivers there contaminating same and destroying aquatic lives – plants and animals. Furthermore, one of the substances that is emitted into the atmosphere from coal burning is mercury and this is usually deposited into water – ways, converted to methylmercury and passed into aquatic food chain. Consumption of methyl mercury – contaminated fish by pregnant women causes negative developmental effects in their off-springs like lower intelligence levels, delayed neurodevelopment and subtle changes in visions, memory and language.
Climate change - For electricity to be generated from coal, combustion has to take place and when combustion takes place certain gases are released into the atmosphere amongst which are carbon dioxide and methane, nitrogen oxide which are key greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.
According to Deniz Mamurekli, summary of coal mining operation and utilization may include the following:
- Dust, noise and vibration during blasting, loading and transportation processes.
- Waste products in the power-plant ash containing radio-active minerals including uranium, thorium and other heavy metals presenting health hazards.
- Destruction of groundwater regimes and rearranging the water tables.
- Generation of acid rain.
- Impact of water use on flows of rivers and consequential impact on other land-uses.
- Coal-fired power plants without effective fly ash capture causing solid waste pollution problems.
The above does not exclude the numerous health hazards owing to the dust, and trace elements that coal miners face while exploiting coal in their beds; this is in addition to the risk of the mine caving in as has been the cases in several countries like China, Venezuela.
Some of the laws that regulate electricity in Nigeria includes: the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria [as amended], the Electric Power Sector Reform Act 2005.While there is no specific legislation at the date of writing this paper known to the authors that regulates coal use in power generation in Nigeria. However, there are several legislations that affect coal usage one way or the other especially with respect to power generation. These legislations include: the Electric Power Sector Reform Act 2005, the Environment Impact Assessment Act, 2004, the National Environmental Standards Regulations and Enforcement Agency Act, 2007.
It is the opinion of the writer that a cursory look at some of the provisions of these statutes reveals that they can be used to enforce issues on environmental safe use of coal in Nigeria energy mix pending such time when a new legal and regulatory framework is created for coal use. For example Section 1 (a) of the Environmental Impact Assessment Act [hereinafter referred to as EIA] provides that …before a decision is taken by any person, authority corporate body or unincorporated body ...intending to undertake or authorise the undertaking of the any activity that may likely or to a significant extent affect the environment or have environmental effects on those activities shall first be taken into account.
In other words, the totality of the provisions of the EIA requires that before any project is embarked upon, environmental impact assessment must be undertaken to ensure standards are adhered to.
 Realization of these laudable roles of coal prompted the formation of the World Coal Association (WCA) with strategic objectives that tend to underscore the fundamental role coal plays in achieving a sustainable, lower carbon energy future.
 Retrieved from www.epa.gov – on the 12th day of February, 2017
 Information extracted from Coal News Section of the International Energy Agency (IEA) website retrieved from www.iea.org on the 2nd day of February, 2017.
 Reported in The Guardian newspaper of March 18, 2015 retrieved from www.ngrguardiannews.com accessed on 13/04/2015. [ The Minister of Power made this statement while signing an MOU with an America based company for it to commence coal exploration, mining and power generation]
 Ayodele Oni (2013) “The Nigerian Electric Power Sector – Policy, Law, Negotiation strategy, Business” printed by CI – Plus Nigeria, p 2
 Retrieved from www.thefullwiki.org/Nigerian_Coal_ Corporation accessed last on 13/04/2016
 Ibid[though in August 2014, the then Minister of Mines and Steel – Mr Sada was reported to have said that the exact quantity of coal reserve in Nigeria is unknown see www.thisdaylive.com/ Also, this may be true going by a recent statement made on April 25, 2015 by a Special Assistant to the Minister of Power who was quoted to have said that he was shock that coal deposit was discovered in Edo state, see www.punchng.com ]
 Op cit www.ngrguardianews.com/Harnessing coal for Nigeria’s electricity generation reported on March 18, 2015 [ the Minister was reported to have further urged Nigerians not to join the bandwagon of environmentalist but to allow potential power to be generated from coal as the country was in dire need of electricity].
 Professor Emeka Duruigbo Notes on Energy Law, Contracts and Negotiations April, 2015
 Nigel Don, Paul Baruya (2015) “Coal and Gas Competition in power generation in Asia” retrieved from www.bookshops.iea-coal.org/uk/report
 Deniz Mamurekli (2010). Environmental Impacts of Coal Mining and Utilization in the U.K-an article published in Acta Montanistica Slovaca Ročník 15 (2010), mimoriadne číslo 2, 134-144.
 Retrieved from www.worldcoal.org accessed on 25/04/2015
 Retrieved from www.noharm.org/lib/downloads/climate/Coal_Literature_Review2.pdf accessed on 13/09/2016
 Cap. C23 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
 Cap. E7 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
 Cap. E 12 Laws of Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
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