Erratic power supply AKA Dumsor has always been hot topic these past few  years .Pronounced “doom-sore” (or more appropriately dum sɔ, “off and on”) is a popular Ghanaian term used to describe persistent, irregular and unpredictable electric power outages. Everybody from businesses to households has been affected one way or the other. In addition to this most Ghana residents have had to spend 200-300% more than what they used to spend on electricity five years ago.

2016 Its an election year in Ghana and I hear lot of promises from political parties and politicians alike. These promises include, good roads, education, health, jobs and of course Energy .

Can we be brutally honest with each other as Ghana residents?

  • Our energy demands have risen over the years and we require more capacity
  • Energy prices have risen all over the world and reliance on only hydro isn’t sufficient for Ghana anymore
  • There is no political party that can reduce electricity tariffs to rates that were being paid 5-10 years ago. Even if anybody tried, it wouldn’t be sustainable
  • Electricity prices will continue to rise in the coming years and the time to change our mindset is now
  • Ghana needs a serious national policy plan /implementation on energy matters

I have to admit times are pretty hard in Ghana these days. A lot of people are unable to pay their utility bills. Some have actually resorted to either connecting utilities illegally or using less. A good number of people have been caught some of them being foreign business and all .I also know a few people who switch off their refrigerators or deep freezers at night.

Another interesting fact is that for those who are buying new electrical appliances, price becomes the most important or deciding factor so much  such that efficiency is thrown out of the window.

While interacting with people we get these statements quite frequently: So you tell people to use less electricity and conserve it?” or “Your website has ideas on how to buy appliances, how does that relate to saving electricity?” The easiest way to save energy (or electricity) is to use less of it, but we have to be realistic in our approach. Our lifestyles are changing, and with increased pace of development, our need for appliances is increasing and so is our need for energy.  Thus the ideal mix to save energy will involve both conservation and efficiency. Now let us look at what is the difference between the two.

What is Energy Conservation?

Whenever you use less of something that means that you are trying to conserve it. So if you use a 1100cc vehicle instead of a V8 vehicle, it means that you are trying to conserve fuel (among many other reasons why you would prefer to use 1100CC over a V8 motor vehicle). If you switch off lights when they are not needed, then you are conserving energy. When you increase the temperature at which you operate your air conditioner from say, 24 degrees to 25 degrees, you are conserving energy. You also conserve energy when you switch off your DSTV decoder boxes and TVs when they are not in use.

Energy Conservation is all about using energy only when it is required and using it as much as needed for the job and not wasting any amount of it. It requires a conscious effort from the user of energy to make sure that there is no wastage on a regular basis. It requires a lot of behavioral change and needs effort. It may not need any investment always.

So what is Energy Efficiency?

Energy efficiency in contrast means using lesser energy to do the same job. When you buy a car that gives more mileage, you use less fuel to travel the same distance. When you buy a 5 star rated air conditioner instead of a 3 or 2 star rated air conditioner, it means that for the same usage and in same conditions, you use less electricity (for the same temperature at which you operate them). If you use a 5 star rated air conditioner at higher temperature, you double the effect and combine energy efficiency with energy conservation.

Energy efficiency has more impact on your personal finances. An efficient appliance may cost more than an inefficient appliance. Although the additional capital cost may get recovered in form of electricity savings. Energy efficiency may not require physical effort but requires change in people’s buying patterns. It requires knowledge of various products and their efficiencies. If people start buying more of efficient products, manufacturers will start producing more of them.

Conclusion

Both energy efficiency and energy conservation have the same goal: to save energy and the same impact: saves money. Both can individually save energy but when coupled together can save double the amount of energy and money. It depends on your choices as to which one you like to do. A good mix of the two can ensure high savings with low investments and efforts.


I am not that kind of a man, but I have been in the company of other men who in the midst of challenges rather saw them as opportunities to change the paradigm.

I strongly believe that very few energy planners and experts would disagree that Energy Independence for Ghana is an important, even urgent, goal.

But the question remains, is shifting the energy paradigm realistic; and if so, how?

And do our politicians and related institutions have the needed passion and spirit to embrace the new paradigm in our energy sector?

In recent years it has become so glaring that the conventional energy paradigm (fossil fuel tradition) has rapidly lost ground in comparison to the concept of Sustainable Development, as it is based on the intensive use of non-renewable fossil fuels — causing environmental degradation and posing Global Energy Security Risks.

Thus, a modification in our energy paradigm is necessary for our energy independence. A paradigm shift in the goals of energy policy should take place: toward independence, security of supply and climate change. Transition to a sustainable energy system is one of the critical challenges humankind faces in achieving energy independence in the new millennium.

Ghana is a country that has unbelievable solar energy potential; but, sadly, solar energy sources contribute only 0.1% (on-grid+ off-grid) of the total installed capacity for the total installed power capacity of 2104.5 MW in Ghana. (VRA: Facts & Figures).

Some people may say I am overly obsessed with the idea of solar energy for our small but incredibly energy-resource-rich nation.

It’s true – I am! But is it practical for Ghana to actually pursue this objective?

Talking of our potential, Wa — capital of the Upper West Region — has the highest level of solar irradiation (5.524 KWh/m2-day) across the country.

May is the month with the highest solar irradiation (5.897 KWh/m2-day), with August recording the lowest measurement (4.937kWh/m2-day) in Wa.

Akim Oda, conversely, is the location that records the lowest radiation (4.567kWh/m2-day) measurements across the country.

The highest measurement in Akim Oda was recorded in the month of April (5.176kWh/m2-day) and the lowest in August (3.802kWh/m2-day). See Table 1. 

As a nation we are blessed with daily sunshine that averages 5 hours, which ranges between about 7 hours and 4 hours for the northern and southern regions of the nation respectively. Ghana also has annual average daily solar radiation of about 4.5 to 5 KWm2/day. 

Table 1: Summary of Solar irradiation in kWh/m2-day – SWERA Report

Synoptic Station Ground

(kWh/m2-day)

Satellite

(kWh/m2-day)

% Error
Kumasi 4.633 5.155 -11.3
Accra 5.060 5.180 -2.3
Navrongo 5.505 5.765 -4.7
Abetifi 5.150 5.192 -0.8
Akuse 4.814 5.58 -15.9
Wa 5.520 5.729 -3.7
Akim Oda 4.567 5.177 -13.3
Wenchi 5.020 5.093 -1.5
Ho 5.122 5.223 -2.0
Kete Krachi 5.280 5.345 -1.3
Takoradi 5.011 5.200 -3.8
Yendi 5.370 5.632 -4.8
Bole 5.323 5.570 -4.6

 

Anti-islanding made easy: the anti-islanding box  The anti-islanding box is a complete pre-wired and easy to install anti-islanding device consisting of a Ziehl anti-islanding relay (model UFR1001E or model SPI1021), the required circuit breakers and a 63A contactor. For specifications of the Ziehl relay

Anti-islanding made easy: the anti-islanding box
The anti-islanding box is a complete pre-wired and easy to install requured by law in certain countries for net meteringinstallations

Assuming we are to use only 23,854km² which is 10% of the total land area (238,585 km²) of Ghana to harness the sun’s energy with PV panels of 15% conversion efficiency, then Ghana would harvest 4,114 TerraWattHours of energy per year. 

This amount is equal to 2.42billion barrels of oil.

Consequently, if we juxtapose this amount with our current oil production in the Jubilee Field, then it is about 27 times the current crude oil production of Ghana per year.” See Chart A on Ghana PV Output.

In Ghana, Solar PV applications are gradually receiving acceptance in most places. However, despite improvements in local Research and Development (R&D) efforts, the body of knowledge on these technologies and their market potentials is considerably inadequate.

Launching major national initiatives on these technologies — such as the President’s 200,000 solar rooftops for households — requires a robust knowledge base and capacity.

In all, PV technologies are showing increasing promise in terms of efficiency improvements and cost. The estimated lifetime of PV modules are 25 years, and this makes them exceptionally attractive for investors.

The victron 500va  phoenix offgrid inverter is excellent for small offgrid solar installations.its connectible to both  Apple and Android smartphones, tablets, macbooks and other devices (VE.Direct Bluetooth Smart dongle needed)

The victron 500va phoenix offgrid inverter is excellent for small offgrid solar installations.its connectible to both Apple and Android smartphones, tablets, macbooks and other devices (VE.Direct Bluetooth Smart dongle needed)

Today, except for the Solar PV Panels produced in Kpone-Tema by Strategic Power Solutions (SPS) — a subsidiary of Strategic Security Systems International Limited, almost 80% the PV modules on the Ghanaian market are imported.

Solar PV systems can be extensively used for a wide range of electrical energy requirements: including solar home systems, water pumping, refrigeration and telecommunications that will reduce the load curve of electricity demand.

It has been estimated that solar rural electrification is about 30% cheaper than the cost of grid extension to rural communities that are about 18 to 20km from the nearest grid station.

However, there are still economic and institutional obstacles that limit this ability to self-generate power. For instance, while it is practical to install solar panels on a home, it is more difficult to scale-up these systems for commercial and industrial-sized projects. Scale is a critical issue in energy generation, as with scale comes lower project costs and greater efficiency.

For privately distributed generation projects, both small and large, to make greater contributions toward our national energy independence, there needs to be continued evolution of the bold policies that first introduced grid-connection rights and net metering in our renewable energy act.

The government must as a matter of urgency assist all consumers anywhere in the country to benefit from the net-metering incentive for solar power consumers. Again, due to the high upfront cost, government must establish a renewable energy revolving credit fund whereby solar consumers can borrow money to finance solar systems without making large up-front payments and without paying high interest rates to banks or private financiers.

Also, the PURC must establish a coherent pricing tariff for distributors to buy power from private solar-farm developers. This could unlock an untapped source of clean, reliable, economical power for Ghana.

While not easy to accomplish, these advances are achievable – and, importantly, they don’t need to cost the tax payers any money. However, they depend on the political will and leadership of our energy-sector authorities.

This an original story by Maxmillian Kwarteng and has been featured on BFT online