Energy: The Power Sector

Industrial Info Resources said “Without the Power Industry, no other industrial sectors could exist, making it the world's largest in the number and value of projects and facilities”.

 The energy industry comprises of petroleum industry, gas industry, electrical power industry, coal industry, nuclear power industry and renewable energy industry. It deals with the production and sale of products of the afore-mentioned power sectors.

The Skilled Manpower Challenges from KPMG (2013) confirms that there is “paucity of adequately skilled manpower in the power sector.”

The power generation sector needs graduates from many different engineering disciplines to solve the crisis in the sector.

 ELECTRIC POWER SECTOR

This is a sector of the power industry. Until recent past, it has been government controlled but the unbundling of the fully-owned PHCN has partially called in private sector to participate in the Generation and Distribution of electricity in Nigeria.

Rumundaka Wonodi (MD; Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading Plc) noted the following concerning the Power Industry “We need to develop the core competencies of staff in the sector. Even people who believe they are proficient need to learn new things.”

“With the expansion of access to power, government projects that the sector would need additional 8,200 artisans and craftsmen between now and 2020 to improve the sector.”

 Most careers in energy are better paid than the same careers in other industries. And many do not require a college degree. With a high school diploma and four to five years of on-the job training with an employer, you can have a solid career without the college debt.

 INDUSTRY STRUCTURE

In Nigeria, there is an independent regulating body which is The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC).

 The Sub-sectors

 Generation Sub-sector:

  • This is the sub-sector that is responsible for the production of electricity. Called variously as power station, generating station, power plant or power house.
  • The different types of power plants are Thermal, Hydro and Nuclear Power Plants.
  • In Nigeria, Generation Companies (GENCOs) – are the companies responsible for electricity generation.
  • At the unbundling (privatisation) of Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN), Six Generating Companies were given the licence to generate power.
  • In the very recent past, about 70 licenses were issued to Independent Power Producers (IPP).
  • Coupled with the IPP is the National Integrated Power Projects (NIPP) which is part of Federal Government of Nigeria’s efforts to combat power shortages, there are 10 existing ones now.

In Nigeria, Existing Companies in the Generation sub-sector are:

  • GENCOs - Egbin Power Plc; Afam Power Plc; Kainji Hydro Electric Plc; Sapele Power Plc; Shiroro Hydro Electric Plc and Ughelli Power Plc.
  • IPP – Example includes Shell-Afam VI; Agip-Okpai & AES Barges
  • NIPP – Examples include Alaoji Generation Company Nigeria Ltd; Omotosho Generation Company Ltd; Calabar Generation Company Ltd.

 Transmission Subsector:

  • Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) has the responsibility for the management of operation, maintenance and expansion of the transmission system.
  • It is the only company in this sector in Nigeria.
  • Does grid construction, operation and maintenance of transmission system.
  • Saddled with the production of stable transmission of power.
  • Has two departments (System Operator - SO & Market Operator - MO). The SO takes charge of system planning, administration and grid discipline while MO is responsible for whole sale electricity market.

Distribution Sub-sector

  • The Distribution and Retail sub-sector is said to be the most critical link in the electricity market.
  • It interfaces with the end customers and provides revenue for the entire value chain.
  • Constructs, operates and maintains distribution systems and facilities.
  • Connects customers for the purpose of receiving electricity supply.
  • Meter installation, maintenance and its reading.

The Distribution Companies (DISCOs). Nigeria currently has eleven distribution companies. These are: Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC); Benin EDC; Eko EDC; Enugu EDC; Ibadan EDC; Ikeja EDC; Jos EDC; Kaduna EDC; Kano EDC; Port Harcourt EDC and Yola EDC.

  CAREER OPTION

 Could this industry be right for me? 

 Career in energy has (1) Endless opportunities to tailor your role to your personal preferences and interests. (2) Exposure to all sizes and ages of plant and equipment. (3) An opportunity to be mentored by experienced engineers.

Opportunities abound in the power industry for graduates in Chemical-; Civil/Structural; Control; Electrical; Electronics; Environmental; Instruments; Materials; Mathematics; Mechanical; Physics; Power systems and Software; Power Management.

 There are other roles for professionals of Accountancy, Legal, Personnel & Administration and Procurement

 Engineering Career:

  • Engineers are needed to help make the nation's electricity usage more efficient and more reliant on clean fuels.
  • They promote sustainable and clean energy usage.
  • Young engineers can gain all the professional advantages of working in a high-tech industry.
  • Can have the personal satisfaction of making a difference on people's energy usage.

 Academic/Professional Qualification

  • Range of good Engineering degrees or its equivalent.

 Skills

  • Skill in decision making
  • Strong interpersonal & communication skills.
  • Skills of translating practical problems into mathematical expressions and techniques
  • Self-directed and quick to learn new technologies.

 Career in Installation and Repair:

  • Installers and repairers are essential to the energy industry.
  • They install, inspect, test, and repair electrical or mechanical equipment.
  • These careers are also well-paying.
  • Power-line installers and electrical and electronics repairers are among the top 10 best paying blue-collar careers in the United States, and among the top 20 in Minnesota.

Academic/Professional Qualification

  • University or Polytechnic Graduate (though it is a blue collar job.)

 Skills

  • Team-working skill
  • Working with tools and technology
  • Ability to work outdoors
  • Skills to Troubleshoot
  • Physical activity like climbing and standing for long periods of time

  Career in Production

  • Production workers in energy are mostly employed in power plants.
  • Combine the duties of operators and technicians.
  • Can earn double the salary of what their counterparts in other industries earn due to their high technical skills and union contracts.

 Academic/Professional Qualification

  • Relevant university degree or its equivalent in relevant technical line.

 Skills

  • Skills of working with current tools and technology
  • Skill in the use of new and emerging tools & technology
  • Ability to keep equipment in top condition
  • Enjoy Teamwork
  • Skill to lead and coordinate others in everyday situations as well as in emergencies (such as in a major storm)

 Career in Construction

  • Since saving energy is as important as generating energy from the scratch, all careers involved in energy-efficient construction and building operations belong to the energy sector.
  • Plumbers and pipe-layers, can be employed in utilities as well as in commercial and residential building retrofitting.

Academic/Professional Qualification

  • Relevant university degree or its equivalent in relevant technical line.

 Skills

  • Skill to work in a Team
  • Ability to use heavy equipment or hand and power tools
  • Working outdoors
  • Communication skills to deal with customers, sometimes in stressful situations

 RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH THE INDUSTRY

 The risk of working in the power sector could be industry- or personal-based. The risks which the industry faces (which will eventually apply to workers) among others include –

  • Cost/Accessibility of capital as the industry needs high scale of investment.
  • Political intervention – Politics impacts highly on the sector due to needed tariff setting, access to fuel supplies and smart grids.
  • Commodity price volatility (the inputs in power production like petroleum by-product).

On the personal (staff) level, the possible risks include –

  • Work related injuries and occupational illness.
  • Health risk especially in power plants as the source of production changes e.g. coal-fire to biomass
  • Safety issues due to working with new technologies and companies from outside Nigeria installing and commissioning these new technologies.

 COMPENSATION

Being an ‘emerging’ sector from the publicly owned parastatal to private companies, the compensation still varies and no standard has really been put in place. The salary is still being determined from company to company while there are ongoing effort to stream-line and standardise them.

 Notwithstanding, the remuneration is competitive and quite attractive with hope of it getting better.