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Are Ghanaian officials stuck on stupid?-The case of solar energy 3

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Mon, 7 Sep 2015 Source: Lungu, Prof.

"...The solar is good, but technology has not yet quite proven yet so I will not go in now. Because at the moment it is expensive. It will be energy of the future. Not Now! What they do in Europe during the day you may get the light alright. What they do is store it in a battery.. Not Now!...", (Professor Francis K. P. Allotey, 2015).

OUR GHANAHERO.COM CHALLENGE: "...We are hereby offering a challenge through Starr Chat host Mr. Bola Ray to Professor Allotey of "Solar Energy Too Expensive for Ghana Now - Allotey" and faux capitalists who love subsidies only when the savings and monies are in their pockets. They should prove us wrong that if Ghana got off that Stuck-on-Stupid mode Ghana cannot save $1,403,102.00 or more in 15-Future-Year money for cost of gas alone as would be required to power the Tema Thermal 2 Power Plant, Takoradi TICO/ T2, and the Takoradi Thermal (T1), by funding through reverse auction or other means 600MW-Industrial-Scale Solar-Energy power plant(s) in multiple locations...thereby saving $1,403,102.00...If they prove us wrong 30 days from date of publication of this essay, www.GhanHero.com will donate, with 30 day, 2 gifts of $60.00 each to two (2) needy students currently enrolled in two (2) different universities in Ghana selected by Starr Chat host Mr. Bola Ray, in coordination with a www.GhanHero.com representative in Ghana. Publish your paper on these same page for all to read and be entertained..." (Prof Lungu, 5 Sep 15).

Yes!

We Say "Right Now", Professor Emeritus Francis K. P. Allotey!

Dear reader, the 1964 speech by Dr. Kwame Nkrumah of blessed memory where he talked about Ghanaians prioritizing solar power research1 more than two (2) generations ago validates our on-going "Stuck-On-Stupid" campaign. Or, Professor Alottey and the Mahama-Terkper-NDC government must show Ghana exactly why they still believe it is not the right time to swiftly prioritize solar power for Ghana, beyond that archaic 1960 perspective about "battery in the night".

Fact is, according to GRIDCO, the annual cost of fuel for the thermal plants in Ghana (7,317.3 GWh ) is estimated to be approximately $1,140 billion. That tells us, roughly, the annual cost for 1MW would be about $156.00, resulting in total cost of $93,540.00 for a 600MW plant. Within 15 years Ghana would spend $1,403,102.00 on fuel alone on that 600MW. Or, Ghana could in principle get out of the Stuck-on-Stupid mode and save all that future-year money by funding through reverse auction or other means 600MW industrial scale solar power plant(s). Incidentally, that $1,403,102.00 for 600MW is what would in effect be required for Tema Thermal 2 Power Plant (50MW), Takoradi TICO/ T2 (220MW), and Takoradi Thermal -/T1 (330MW).

As we've said before, right now, India is moving strongly on Solar Energy and creating new economy jobs for its citizens.

THE COST OF SOLAR ENERGY HAS SIGNIFICANTLY DECLINED:

Suffice to say, very respectfully, this era is no longer the age of the Professor Alloteys. To the point, the cost of solar energy has declined by a factor of 100 the last 37 years, and by a factor of 10 the last 15 years.

In fact, during "...2006 to 2014,...worldwide average module prices...dropped about 78% from $3.25 per watt to about $.72 per watt..." Consequently, today, at approximately 12.5¢ per Kwh, the levelized lifetime cost of solar energy is lower than natural gas and coal.

Compare Energy (Cost per Kwh):

Solar Energy: 12.5¢

Natural Gas: 18¢

Coal: 14¢

Wind Energy: 20¢

(See our Note 2 for information on cost for storage batteries for solar power2)!

We are hereby offering a challenge through Starr Chat host Mr. Bola Ray to Professor Allotey of "Solar Energy Too Expensive for Ghana Now - Allotey", other loud mouths and faux capitalists who love subsidies only when the savings and monies are in their pockets. They should prove us wrong that if Ghana got off that Stuck-on-Stupid mode Ghana cannot save $1,403,102.00 in 15-Future-Year money for cost of gas alone as would be required to power (1) Tema Thermal 2 Power Plant, (2) Takoradi TICO/ T2, and (3) Takoradi Thermal (T1) by funding through reverse auction or other means 600MW-Industrial-Scale Solar-Energy power plant(s) in multiple locations that would streamlessly feed into the Ghana electrical grid system, thereby saving $1,403,102.00 or more for Ghanaians, excluding depreciation for those gas-fired plant. Or that any subsidies would be required higher than that required for those existing facilities; and less jobs will be created through the Solar initiative(s). If they prove us wrong 30 days from date of publication of this essay, www.GhanHero.com will donate 2 gifts of $60.00 each to two (2) needy students currently enrolled in two (2) different universities in Ghana selected by Starr Chat host Mr. Bola Ray, in coordination with a www.GhanHero.com representative in Ghana. Publish your paper on these same page for all to read and be entertained..."

Moving on, given the comparative cost advantage solar energy now enjoys, we were again not amused to hear Dr. Kwabena Donkor talk about "...solutions...to beef up the supply situation...(in the)...medium to long term...(with)... 1,000MW...(and)... 5,000MW generating capacity from natural gas, clean coal and renewable energy sources within the next five years..." (General News, Ghanaweb, Sunday, 16 August 2015, Gov't to split VRA").

We now know " renewable energy" was thrown in just for effect, without any fundamental conviction or development program for solar power in Ghana. In fact, today, VRA reports having just 2.0MW of solar power in Upper West. But, in 2015, solar power is what is supposed to excite policy makers - solving larger industry and energy problems using free power from the sun sustainably, instead of using natural gas and imported "clean coal".

So really!

Who is it that invented "clean coal" for Dr. Donkor?

And from where is Dr. Donkor going to acquire that "clean coal" for Ghana?

We must be jokers!

We know that given the cost of technology, "clean coal" is a myth. It is a marketing gimmick invented by the coal industry to sell more coal to poor economies, even as coal is getting decimated by oil produced from hydraulic fracking. More important, the fact is, the US is itself quickly moving away from coal and investing more in solar energy per new Kwh produced. To the point, if there was truly "clean coal" in the world, would Ghana win the bidding war versus deep-pocket countries like the US, Canada, Germany, etc.? That should confirm to us that "clean coal" is another wicked marketing trick to import into Ghana more CO? emissions and other pollutant using foreign exchange Ghana has precious little of.

On the air pollution stuff, just ask the Chinese how good it feels to breath everyday in Beijing. Imagine, sitting on top of the Equator and not being able to breathe under free sunlight!

Ridiculous!

INDIA ON THE PATH TO SOLAR POWER NIRVANA:

Yes, India is on the path to Solar Power Nirvana while dead-brained Ghanaian politicians sleep at the wheel! And, as they say in the US, "You Snooze, You Lose"!

Last year, in 2014, US Conglomerate General Electric (GE) announced its first major investment in the Indian solar energy sector by partnering with Welspun Energy in a $150 million solar power project in, India. You know, India, the country known for monsoon winds and rains. The 151 MW solar PV (Photo-Voltaic) project is located in Madhya Pradesh, and was funded under that state’s solar power policy. The project has a 30-year useful life, as they do these days.

As reported by Clean Technica:

"... Welspun Energy...secured the tender for the project through a reverse auction organized by the Madhya Pradesh government...(using)... debt financing worth about US$150 million for the project. The company offered to set up the project seeking a tariff of US$0.14 per kWh. At this rate, the project is expected to bring in annual revenue of about US$35 million every year...The company will use the equity infusion by General Electric to pay off a portion of this debt..."

Reporting on the Welspun Energy project, Bloomberg.com noted:

"...India, which had virtually no solar power three years ago, plans to draw $11.7 billion of investment by 2017 to expand capacity sixfold as plunging panel prices make generation less costly. In contrast, fuel-supply bottlenecks are driving up the cost of power produced from coal and natural gas... The plant in Neemuch in central Madhya Pradesh state operates at a capacity utilization factor of 26 percent...The figure is a measure of how efficiently a plant produces energy, compared with its maximum capacity, (Pearson, 2014).

The reader should note that the 151MW actually cost $150 million! In that sense, $1 million buys 1 MW. (So, if you are buying 600MW, cost will be less and the system(s) still remain(s) scalable)).

The big deal with the GE-fund-induced $194 million solar project is, with the projected annual revenue of $35 million, the project should pay for itself within nine (9) years, or sooner. Therefore, even if we reduced the estimated useful life of the facility to 25 years (to cover operating and maintenance costs), the project would be on target to net Welspun Energy and the Madhya Pradesh government more than $625 million. During the entire time, not a single barrel of oil, not a single bottle of natural gas, not a single wagon-load of coal, would have been used to power a single kilowatt of that solar power plant.

So, where is our solar energy plan and dividend, Dr. Donkor?

Read all about that in our next installment in these series, on these same pages.

So it goes, Ghana!

SOURCES:

1. Note 1. Francis Kwarteng. Nkrumah On Solar Energy, Scientific Research, & Science Education. Speech by Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, 25 November, 1964, Kwabenya, Ghanaweb, 5 September 2015, (www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/features/Nkrumah-On-Solar-Energy-Scientific-Research-Science-Education-379711).

2. Note 1. On Storage Batteries. RMI estimates that battery cells account for about one-third of total system cost, with inverters and battery management systems making up the bulk of the BOS costs. The biggest reductions in solar BOS were in installation labor and customer acquisition. Ghana has an advantage here. Further, financing costs are coming down due to securitization. For residential use, analysis shows that "grid-connected solar-plus-battery systems become economic for large numbers of customers, and those systems have the potential to supply greater and greater portions of customers’ electricity,” (Compiled from www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/lowering-the-cost-of-batteries-through-lower-bos, and www.ecowatch.com/2015/04/07/solar-energy-grid-battery-storage/).

3. GRIDCO. Electricity Supply Plan, 2014.

4. Solar Cell Central. Com. Solar Electricity Costs, PV Solar Parity Has Begun.

http://solarcellcentral.com/cost_page.html.

5. Natalie Obiko Pearson. GE Invests $24 Million in Welspun’s India Solar Plant, Bloomberg.com, http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2014-04-25/ge-invests-24-million-in-welspun-s-india-solar-plant.

6. Mridul Chadha. GE Invests $24 Million In India’s Largest Solar Power Plant, Clean Technica, May 4th, 2014 by, http://cleantechnica.com/2014/05/04/ge-invests-24-million-indias-largest-solar-power-plant/.

7. GhanaHero.com. WWW.GhanaHero.com/Visions. Visit for more information.

©Prof Lungu is Ghana-centered/Ghana-Proud.

Prof Lungu is based in Washington DC, USA.

Are Ghanaian Officials Stuck on Stupid? The Case Solar Energy! (3)

Brought to you courtesy www.GhanaHero.com©5 Sep 15.

Columnist: Lungu, Prof.