Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia on Tuesday said Government was working to bring down the cost of electricity generation to below 10 US Cents per kilowatt hour to make electricity affordable to Ghanaians.
To that end, he said, one of the key changes going forward, was that the Ministry of Energy and the Electricity Company of Ghana had been tasked to use competitive tendering procedures for the procurement of renewable energy electricity.
Under the scheme, the Vice President said the winner of the tender would be guaranteed a Power Purchase Agreement, Connection Agreement and Government Enhancement to make it possible for it to easily reach financial close and ensure that the nation got value for money in the procurement of renewable energy electricity.
Vice President Bawumia announced this when he officially opened the Fourth Ghana Renewable Energy Fair in Accra, under the theme: “Renewable Energy: Exploiting Energy Resources at the District Level”.
The three-day event provides a platform to promote renewable energy technologies and to create linkages between the various stakeholders in the renewable energy space, including researchers, entrepreneurs, industries and consumers.
The fair, jointly organised by the Energy Commission and the Ministry of Energy, involved conferences and exhibition of renewable technologies, which attracted captains of industry, energy experts and the development partners.
Vice President Bawumia said Government would promote the development of cost effective utility-scalable solar energy projects, which would accelerate the development of mini-grid solutions in off-grid and island communities for lighting, irrigation and other economic activities.
He said the contract award would be subjected to competitive bidding to enable government to adopt the most efficient technologies and achieve value for money. He said Government was supporting the Volta River Authority to develop two utility-scale PV plants totalling 12 MW in the Upper West Region and 75 MW wind power plant at Anloga.
He urged the Ghana Irrigation Development Authority to seriously consider the use of cost effective utility-scale renewable energy technologies in their irrigation schemes for areas that are remote from the national grid.
Vice President Bawumia challenged the Energy Commission to use its mandate to promote renewable energy and to proactively engage the relevant Ministries and Agencies as well as Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs), to assist in identifying areas for cost effective utility-scale renewable energy technologies to enhance the country’s development plans.
He said government inherited a number of power purchase agreements for the supply of renewable energy electricity, which was signed by the previous government during the energy crises, some with tariffs as high as 18 US cents or more per kilowatt hour. “As the price of solar panels has fallen, “rooftop” solar systems have become increasingly attractive to house owners and businesses.
“The National Rooftop Solar programme was introduced to facilitate the adoption of solar PV systems in our homes. Government has now decided to widen the scope of the programme to include installation of solar PV systems for selected non-electrified rural electricity.
“This is part of efforts towards the achievement of universal access to electricity by 2020,”the Vice President stated. According to him, the Energy Commission piloted the installation of solar home systems for 200 households in the Kwahu East and South Districts in the Eastern Region, last year, and it was expecting that the Commission would scale up same project in other parts of the country that are yet to be connected to the national grid.
He said Government was working to achieve the vision of universal access to electricity, saying that, the electricity access rate now stood at about 85%. Unfortunately, he said, most of the communities that were yet to be to get electricity were very far from the national grid, while in some cases, it may be uneconomical to extend the grid to them, and assured that, government would work hard to achieve the universal coverage target.
“As I mentioned already, renewable energy powered mini-grid systems provide the answers to the problem. The government has so far built five mini-grids systems on five island communities to supply the indigenes with electricity. “I wish to assure you that government will continue to pursue renewable energy-based mini grid electrification to provide 24-hour electricity supply for productive use in islands and remote communities,” Dr Bawumia assured.
He urged the Ministry of Energy to harness private sector investment and participation in the programme, in order to accelerate the mini-grid deployment. He also tasked the Energy Commission to fast track the development of the Mini-Grid Regulations to ensure the smooth implementation of the scheme.
“We often do not see our forests as a renewable energy resource and, in fact, considering the way our forests are ravaged by “galamsey” and other indiscriminate acts, our forests are under threat and may be destroyed completely.
"Indeed, wood fuel (charcoal and firewood) is and will continue to be a dominant cooking fuel in Ghana, until rural incomes increase significantly to support a wholesale switch to LPG or other clean fuels.
“Since the majority of our population use wood fuel for cooking, it is important that the needs of this segment of society are properly addressed. “I am therefore pleased to know that there are initiatives underway to ensure that the charcoal and firewood cook stoves used in Ghana are energy-efficient and generate lower toxic emissions,” he stated.
He said it was crucial for the nation to avoid further damage to the environment through indiscriminate felling of trees for firewood and charcoal, in view of the devastation already caused by illegal miners.
“In order to ensure that our wood resources are truly renewable resources used in a sustainable manner, we must begin to regulate and formalise the entire value chain of the wood fuel industry (production, transportation and marketing).“To this end, I urge the Energy Commission to work in collaboration with the relevant stakeholders, such as the Forestry Commission, to finalise the regulations aimed at streamlining the various activities of the wood fuel industry,” he said.
Vice President Bawumia commended the Energy Commission for developing the standards for Improved Biomass Cookstoves and entreated all stakeholders to collaborate with the mandated institutions to ensure sustainable use of renewable energy for national development.