Business News of Saturday, 14 February 2015
The Integrated Social Development Center (ISODEC) has said for the country to achieve universal access to electricity the best route would be to help rural communities to develop renewable energy sources such as wind and solar.
This would investment in “expensive, unnecessary” infrastructure and infrastructure upgrades that would be required to supply the country with electricity from large nuclear or hydrocarbon facilities.
The Campaign Coordinator of the centre, Dr. Steve Manteaw, made the suggestion when he spoke on the topic “Towards energy mix for national development” at a round table discussion at the University of Cape Coast (UCC).
He called for support for urban households who would want to install solar and added “Developing renewable energy sources is a good way to develop the country’s economy.”
The Round table discussion dubbed “Energy Transformation for National Development” was jointly organised by the Institute for Oil and Gas Studies (IOGS) and the Institute for Development Studies (IDS) of the UCC.
Dr. Manteaw said the country’s National Energy Policy(2010) which covered renewable energy, promoted the development of solar and wind facilities and other off-grid technologies but this had not been intergraded into the energy generation mix.
He proposed the adoption of a renewable energy law in tandem with the new petroleum exploration and production bill especially when the energy policy mentions that the country was well endowed with hydrocarbons and was exploring options to develop nuclear energy.
Dr Manteaw said without a good renewable energy law, it was more likely that traditional sources of “dirty energy” would be developed instead.
He described as “short sighted” the goal to develop thermal plants hydropower facilities, transmission infrastructure, natural gas, coal and nuclear to reach 5,0000MW installed capacity.
“Any investment in developing these resources should be weighed against investing in renewable resources that carry no fuel cost once they are established”, he said.
Dr. Manteaw said the coal-fired plant project was ill-conceived, especially at a time when the world was looking for ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and that the preposition, amounted to climate-change insensitivity and will be environmentally suicidal.
He said the project also defied a basic economic principle that suggested that energy plants should be situated close to the source of fuel since in the case of Ghana, the coal would be imported from countries as far as South Africa, Mozambique, Brazil and beyond.
“Add the environmental cost and the project is thrown into realms of absurdity,” Dr Manteaw said.
Dr. Joe Asamoah, Executive Director, EnerWise Africa, enumerated conventional and non-conventional sources of energy and said even though solar was relatively expensive its maintenance was not.
He stated that solar panels, when overused became foul and stressed the need to conserve energy wisely as interventions were explored to find short and long term solutions to the current energy crisis.
Prof. Emmanuel Gyimah, Head of Education Department of the College of Distance Education, UCC, spoke about the energy crisis and appealed to the academia not to let research by students gather dust on shelves but use them to mitigate the situation.