VRA to invest US$350m in wind power

Business News of Friday, 5 April 2013

Source: B&FT

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The Volta River Authority (VRA) will in June conduct feasibility studies for the construction of wind-power facilities in selected parts of the country, expected to cost US$350million.

The project, a joint venture between the Authority and private partners, will involve the construction of eight wind farms in the coastal towns of Winneba and Ada-Keta, and inland towns of Techiman and Gambaga.

The first phase of the project, which is expected to end in 2015, will generate between 100-150 megawatts of electricity — with the second phase generating an additional 150 megawatts by 2020. In an interview with B&FT, VRA’s Director of Engineering, William Sam-Appiah, said the investment is in line with the National Energy Policy to diversify the country’s energy portfolio to include renewables.

He said although Government had targetted an initial 10 percent of renewable energy in the power generation mix, that figure has been adjusted upward. “We have changed our targets. Initially, we said we were doing 10 megawatts of solar and 100-150 megawatts of wind energy. To date we have two megawatts of solar and are expanding to 12 megawatts with funding from KfW, a German agency.”

VRA Senior Electrical Engineer Kojo Antwi said the Authority plans to increase the current two megawatts of solar energy to about 200 megawatts by 2020. “There are advantages of renewable energy which the country has to explore. In the past, drought and fuel hikes have exposed the disadvantages associated with hydro and thermal.”

The VRA’s venture into renewable energy has become prudent because the cost of production has fallen considerably. The Renewable Energy Act (Act 832) was passed in 2011 to augment the country’s energy sources. The inputs required in generating hydro-electric and thermal power to supply the country’s energy needs have not always been readily available, thereby engendering a shortfall in energy supply.

In a move to actualise the objectives of the Act, the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) — in collaboration with the Energy Commission and the Ministry of Energy and Petroleum is to operationalise the Renewable Energy Feed-in-Tariff Scheme to encourage investments into the sector.

The Scheme guarantees the sale of electricity generated from renewable energy sources by establishing a renewable energy purchase obligation and mandatory tariff rates for the utilities.

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