Challenges of load-shedding
The Energy and Petroleum Minister, Mr Emmanuel Armah-Kofi Buah, has returned from Nigeria to seek assurance from the authorities for regular gas supply to resolve the current energy crisis facing the country, and which now threatens to bring the manufacturing and industrial sector to its knees.
The minister’s visit comes on the heels of worsening load shedding prompted by a shortfall in gas supply to power Ghana’s thermal generators.
Officials of the Volta River Authority (VRA), Ghana Grid Company (GRIDCo) and the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) formally announced a “temporary load management” exercise beginning Monday, March 17, due to generation challenges.
The announcement comes after weeks of intermittent power cuts.
The Nigerian government expressed its commitment towards a continuous supply of gas to Ghana to operate her thermal power plants during a crunch meeting between them and Mr Buah.
Travelling the energy crisis journey
Ghana had its first energy crisis in 1984, which was caused by an unprecedented drought whose impacts were felt throughout the West African sub-region. The second and third power crisis, which occurred in 1998 and 2002, were also attributed to low rainfall in the Volta basin.
Declining rainfall between 2005-2006 sparked one of Ghana’s energy crisis in 2006, as the country’s energy sector was dominated by hydro power.
The Ghanaian economy continues to experience the very severe energy crisis that hit the entire country from the start of the second half of 2006.
As in the 1997/98 crisis, the 2006 crisis was also largely the result of low water inflows into the Akosombo Dam, which limited the generation of hydroelectric power from the Akosombo Power Station — the largest of the two hydroelectric power generation plants in the country.
This time, however, the energy crisis is sparked by a shortfall in gas supply, a situation which has left many wondering whether there is a solution to Ghana’s chronic energy crisis.
Bright B. Simons, Kofi Bentil & Franklin Cudjoe in their write up on ‘Ghana’s Chronic Energy Crisis’ noted: “Undoubtedly, the mess in our energy sector is one of ill-coordination. Ghanaians must endeavour to show more interest in developments in this sector and help impel our political leaders and their public sector sidekicks to confront the stark realities prevailing there. Otherwise we shouldn’t be surprised if the chronic crisis festers into another panic-inducing acute attack – sooner rather than later”.
Mr Edward Kofi Mahama, an energy expert, notes that Ghana is fortunate to have sunlight available throughout the year. “The sun’s energy can be harnessed to supplement the energy we get from our existing power plants. Recently, Blue Energy, a UK-based renewable energy investment company, announced its plan to build a 155 megawatt photovoltaic (PV) solar power plant in the Western Region.
Construction work on the US$400m plant was expected to start within 12 months from the time it was announced but the period has elapsed, yet nothing has been done and I strongly believe it is due to lack of funds.
Looking at the benefits that Ghana will gain from this project, I think it would be expedient for government to help source funds to start the project,” he added.
“The challenges associated with solar energy production are with storage and improving efficiency of solar panels. Already, the European Union is funding researches to address this issue, I think our government should follow suit and provide funds for our local universities into research on these challenges as well,” Mr Mahama stated.
Biomass energy is another area that needs consideration to help address our power crisis. Biomass energy comes from materials that were once living like plants or some garbage. The biomass energy industry performs two distinct and important functions: energy production and waste disposal. Each has significant environmental implications. At the same time, the use of biomass fuels in energy facilities avoids the alternative disposal of these materials. It is rather sad to know that we can produce enormous amount of energy from the waste produce in Accra alone, yet we sit idle and allow the waste to engulf us.
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