Business News of 2014-06-27

Comment: Alternative power needed

Ghana is currently going through power crisis and the term dum sor dum sor (frequent power cuts) has become one of the clich├ęs in the country.
Currently the country's installed power capacity is a little over 2,000 megawatts with hydro power generated from the Akosombo and Kpong dams, which in total generate 1180MW.
The Takoradi International Company (TICO), the Takoradi Power Company, Tema Thermal 1 Power Plant, Tema Thermal 2 Power Plant and the Sunon-Asogli Power Plant, all of which use gas to generate power, also contribute a substantial amount to the country's power needs. The Mines Reserve Plant, belonging to the Volta River Authority (VRA), also uses diesel to generate 80 megawatts.
Figures from the Ghana Energy Commission indicate that altogether, the country has an installed capacity of 2,169.5. All the companies producing power, with the exception of the Sunon-Asogli Plant, which is an independent power producer, are state-owned.
Demand outlook
Over the long term (2011-2021), demand for power in the country is projected to grow at an average of 6.9 per cent. Energy consumption is projected to increase from 1,133.7 MW in 2011 to 2,323.6 MW 2021. However, demand is projected to grow from 1,677MW in 2011 to 3,264 MW in 2021.
The government's major energy policy now is to achieve universal access to electric power by 2020. It has, therefore, planned to increase the total electricity production to 5,000 megawatts by that time. There is therefore the need for the government to look for other sources of generating power besides hydro and gas.
To fill the 3,000 megawatts demand, the government is encouraging the private sector to enter into partnership with the public sector in the generation of more power to satisfy the ever-increasing demand.
Operational difficulties
The periodic load shedding has been attributed to inadequate generation capacity. The low voltages that also occur are due to inadequate reactive power support and overloaded lines and transformers. There are also technical losses caused mainly by inadequate equipment capacity and old and obsolete cables.
Other sources of power generation
When Ghana added the Bui Hydro Power Project, some thought the country's power problems would be a thing of the past, but that was not the case. Again, there is the expectation that when the Ghana Gas Project is completed, the country will be able to use gas to generate more power to complement the existing capacity.
But it is my view that if Ghana is to reach its goal of generating 5,000 megawatts of power by 2020, both the government and the independent power producers must be encouraged to exploit other sources of power generation methods such as solar and wind.
Ghana has enough sunshine that can be exploited to generate a substantial amount of power to be added to the country's energy mix. My visit to the Ningxia Province in China revealed that even though the province generated more power from coal, both the government and individuals there had embarked on massive solar and wind energy projects. In all, about 10 per cent of the area's energy requirement is derived from solar and wind.
Even though the Ghana Gas Company will soon come on board, we should not rest on our oars, but continue to exploit other sources of power generation to enable us to have enough power for our own use and export the surplus to neighbouring countries.
It is through such vigorous endeavours that Ghana would be enabled to end the periodical power rationing that seems to have become an albatross around the neck of the managers of the country.
By Emmanuel Adu-Gyamerah