Ghana Goes Big on Renewables

Solar panels

Accra, December 11, 2017//-The renewable energy revolution is catching on. And one country that has a lot to offer renewable investors, is Ghana.

The country has several resources such as , wind, solar PV, mini grid, and modern biomass that are waiting to be exploited for electricity production.

Ghana is therefore a fertile ground for investors who want to seize the opportunity to create wealth out of the renewables.

To this end,  the government has set itself ambitious targets, including commissioning of over 50 mini-grids by the year 2030, solar rooftop programme, standalone solar PV systems, solar PV-based net metering with storage, and utility-scale solar PV/wind power generation.

This will help the country to increase its current 1% of renewable energy feed into the national grid. Currently, Ghana’s installed generation capacity stands at 4,577 megawatt (MW) as against 4,132 MW in 2016.

In 2018, the government is expected to continue to increase the installed generation capacity by about 487MW (Cenpower; 340MW, Early Power Phase 1; 147MW) to meet the growing demand of electricity, according to the 2018 budget.

At country’s Ministry of Energy in Accra, bright minds are working hard to ensure that these projects and programes deliver the needed results to the people.

An Assistant Progamme Officer at the Renewable Directorate at the Ministry of Energy, Jimmy Agbetsoamedo disclosed that since 2010, over 1000 standalone systems had been installed across the country to enable people in off-grid communities to charge their mobile phones.

“Since 2010, we started with the standalone systems . Basically, we call them battery charging stations where people go to charge their mobile phones”, he told African Eye Report in his office.

He stated that; “the standalone systems were also used for lighting for health facilities, school facilities, and some security facilities. Some health facilities were also provided with solar vaccine refrigerators”.

Recently, the ministry gotten into mini-grids which it is using to connect communities that they are difficult to reach with the national grid. The  ministry decided to focus more on the lakeside communities around the Volta Lake and island communities.

At the moment, “We also done mini grids. We done five and we are hoping to do over 50 by the year 2030. Just this year, we have done a mapping for three mini grids we want to do hopefully next year. The five mini grids that we have done in the past are located in Ada in the Greater Accra Region.  We have two in Sene in the Brong Ahafo Region and another two in Krachi in the Volta Region”, Mr Agbetsoamedo said.

While the coming three mini grids will also be located along the island communities in Ada. So, we are working on that, he added.

Touching on the solar rooftop programme, Mr Agbetsoamedo told this publication that the ministry is also working in collaboration with the Energy Commission to provide solar panels  for people across the country.

“The whole idea of the solar rooftop programme is to try to get people off the grid so that it will take the pressure off the national grid. So, what happens is that we provide free 500watt panels for people but there are conditions attached.

You have to make sure you have your balance of systems . By balance of systems, I mean you need to have your batteries, your inverter, your house properly wired, and your lights change to LEDs”.

Mr Agbetsoamedo continued: “So, when you do this, you apply to the Energy Commission and they will send an inspector to come and inspect that all these have been done , then you are given your 500watt panel. So, these are some of the things that we are doing at the moment”.

Call to investors

Furthermore, the government is also encouraging the private investors to come in to set up utility-scale solar PV facilities,  grid connected facilities.

At the moment,  the country has over 20 MW. We have 20 MW facility which was developed by BXC, a Chinese firm in Winneba in the Central Region ; and 2.5 MW in Navrongo in the Upper East,  both of them feed into the national grid, he said.

“For now, we are looking for utility-scale facilities that can feed into the national grid. We are also looking for people to invest in the mini grid area. That will help us a lot to reach the island and the hinterland communities”, Mr Agbetsoamedo appealed.

Good posture towards renewables

Besides, having stable economy and stable democracy, Ghana continues to show good posture towards players in the renewable sector.

“Yearly, I think about three years or four years now, we have this renewable energy fair where we showcase renewable energy activities. We make the platform available for companies that involved in renewable energy sector to come out and showcase what they have for individuals and the patronage is being good”, according to him.

“People are really interested in renewables. People come to us with ideas, telling us what they think about the renewable energy sector, how they want to get involve but they don’t know what to do. It has been good”.

At the 3rd Ghana Renewable Energy Fair held this year, the government gave a December deadline to the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) and the Northern Electricity Distribution Company (NEDCo) to submit business models for the integration of distributed renewable energy generation in the country.

Ghana’s Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, who issued the directive in a speech read on his behalf by a  Deputy Minister of Energy, Dr. Mohammed Amin said the move  would  ensure the re-engineering of both captive and distributed solar generation programme.

“Mindful of the financial implications of all these developments and net-metering policy on our utilities, we are re-engineering both the captive and distributed solar generation programme to ensure a win-win for all,” he said.

In a bid to accelerate and promote development of the renewables, the government is seeking an amendment to the Renewable Energy Act 2011, Act 832, to include in its competitive tendering for procurement of renewable electricity.

“The ministry has identified some constraints in the Act, and is therefore in the process of addressing the constraints by amending Act 832″.

He was confident that if well-harnessed the renewable sector could contribute significantly to socio-economic growth while protecting the environment.

Tax incentives

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Ghana, a subsidiary of UK-based multinational professional services network, recently called on the Ghanaian government to give tax incentives to companies that have completely or partially switched to renewable energy.

The Associate Director of the PwC Ghana,  Abeku Gyan-Quansah who made the call at PwC’s Post Budget Forum in Accra, explained that; “the incentives should be based on the investments the companies had put in renewable energy such that companies and individuals that had totally gone off the national grid would not pay taxes on power”.

The incentives, he maintained would help drive the government’s renewable energy agenda as private companies and individual investors would be motivated to go off the national grid to enable them benefit from the incentive package(s).

Additionally, it will reduce the overhead cost of the companies and make them to produce goods and services effectively.This will enable them to employ the teeming unemployed youth in the country.

 By Masahudu Ankiilu Kunateh, African Eye Report




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