Government set for mini grids expansion
In view of the need to expand the access to electricity in the country, the Energy Commission has announced plans to expand the number of mini grid systems that the country has currently.
Speaking at the 5th Mini Grid Action Learning Event, The Executive Secretary of the Energy Commission, Alfred Ahenkorah said, “…for the rapid deployment of these mini grids the Commission would increase private sector involvement in partnership with government based on the existing standards.”
The country’s objective is to establish 55 solar mini grids with an average capacity of 100kw by 2023. These would be installed in island and lakeside communities and smaller communities elsewhere, targeting communities with less than 500 inhabitants and no road access.
“It becomes easy to integrate the mini grids into the national grid or to be connected by the utility service providers. We already have the Embedded Generation Regulatory Framework, so it is easy to incorporate the mini-grids into the national system,” Ahenkorah stated.
He explained that with the regulatory standards in place, there could be no deviation, making it possible for the mini grids to be setup in isolated communities.
Currently, Ghana has one of Africa’s highest rates of electricity access, with a national electrification rate of 84.3 percent and rural electrification rate of 71 percent.
The National Energy Policy is targeting universal access for the country by 2020. While government is taking steps to make use of all technical solutions to achieve this target, 92 percent of the population to be served with electricity services will be connected to the country’s national grid.
According to the latest tracking of progress towards Sustainable Development Goal 7 – The Energy Progress Report – government has opted primarily for a public sector-led business model for mini grids, where the public sector is responsible for the investment and ownership of the assets. The management, operation and maintenance of mini-grid installations are the responsibility of the public utility service providers.
Private sector participation is foreseen in engineering, procurement and construction (EPC), and operation and management concessions. The existing Uniform Tariff Policy (UTP) applies to mini-grids, so that customers enjoy the same pricing policy as those on the main electricity grid and the Ministry of Energy, with the financing support of the World Bank, has already successfully implemented five pilot mini-grids in the framework of Ghana Energy and Development Access Program (GEDAP).