‘Time to embrace solar power’- Deputy Energy Minister
The Deputy Minister for Energy, Mr. William Owuraku Aidoo, has urged institutions and the public to consider adopting the use of solar power to reduce the cost of using electricity.
Given the enormous advantages in the use of renewable energy, and the exponential decline in the market cost of solar PV systems, solar power represents one of the affordable and environmentally-friendly sources of power.
The cost of electricity from the national grid, according to the Deputy Minister, is about GH¢ 0.67 to GH¢1.62 per kilowatt hour, while the cost of electricity from solar PV is under GH¢ 0.67.
“It is government’s goal to have 10 percent of renewable energy in the total energy mix of the country by 2020. Thus, government is pragmatically exploring all options to achieve that goal in a sustainable manner,” Mr. Owuraku Aidoo said.
The Energy Commission (EC) rolled out a 200,000 rooftop solar PV programme in 2016, and is actively sourcing additional funding to continue the project as part of efforts to attain the goal of 10% renewable energy in the total energy mix of the country by 2020. The programme has been expanded to cover non-residential, commercial and industrial facilities.
Already, the existing 50kWp rooftop solar PV system installed at the Ministry of Energy is saving the state about GH¢90,000 annually, and this goes to affirm the benefit of using solar energy in the country.
The Deputy Minister was speaking at the inauguration of a 60kWp grid-tied hybrid-integrated solar PV system, installed by KATA Solar Limited for the Building and Road Research Institute of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR-BRRI) at Fumesua in the Ashanti Region.
The installation has now increased the electricity generation capacity of the CSIR-BRRI solar PV system to 80kWp, which will minimise the Institute’s reliance on electricity from the national grid.
The development forms part of the second phase of a three-phase solar PV electrification project, for which KATA Solar provided 20kWp for CSIR-BRRI last year to partially offset electricity supply from the national grid for running their operations.
KATA Solar Limited provided the solar PV system on a five-year Public Private Partnership (PPP) agreement with CSIR-BRRI, for which CSIR-BRRI is expected to pay off the solar PV system total installed (turn-key) cost within five years and assume full ownership of the system with a projected lifetime of 25 years.
The rooftop solar PV system, which was pre-financed by a Japanese financier, is seamlessly integrated with the utility (ECG) grid and existing diesel generator set as backup power through the integration of world-leading hybrid controller technology, which is truly ground-breaking and the first of its kind to be deployed in Ghana.
The CSIR-BRRI campus in Fumesua has a bi-directional net meter installed by ECG, which tracks how much excess solar PV electricity is exported to the grid and how much electricity is imported from the grid for the Institute’s use.
Mr. William Owuraku Aidoo, who is also the MP for Afigya Kwabre South Constituency in Ashanti Region, lauded the private-sector led PPP project and encouraged businesses, educational institutions, and government agencies to take advantage of every opportunity to utilise renewable energy, not only for the positive impact on the environment but also as a cost-saving measure.
Later, in an interview, he said the current excess electricity generation capacity from installed thermal energy plants has led government to put a moratorium on entering into new power purchase agreements (PPAs) with Independent Power Producers (IPPs) for the time being.
The Chief Executive of KATA Solar Limited, Dr. Kojo Ampofo Appiah, noted that the solar PV hybrid controller technology that has been introduced for the first time in the country is ultra-modern, reckoning its complexities which require specialised technical expertise.
He implored the public, residential, commercial and industrial sectors to incorporate solar PV into their electricity supply mix, especially as it is currently the cheapest source of reliable electricity.
Dr. Appiah stated that he hopes government will offer more incentives to encourage investment in solar PV adoption across the country, while also entreating local financial institutions to provide affordable financing of such projects to benefit the whole country.
“This solar PV project will showcase the enormous potential and benefits of incorporating reliable and cheaper electricity from solar PV into the electric power mix for the commercial, industrial and service sectors within Ghana.”
The Director of CSIR-BRRI, Dr. Eugene Atiemo, disclosed that per their estimation the 80kWp net-metered hybrid-integrated solar PV system will reduce their consumption of electricity from the national grid by at least 90 percent.
He explained that given the enormous benefits, CSIR-BRRI will encourage and assist the Institute’s own clients to install solar PV system at their facilities, as CSIR-BRRI designs and supervises client projects.