Ghana Hopes Lithium Load Will Lure Automakers plus drive solar

Ghana might become the world’s next hot spot for lithium, after large quantities of the element and other base metals have been identified in the Ashanti and Central regions, the Ghana Minerals Commission said.

While it’s too early to confirm the presence of commercial quantities, Ghana officials hope this discovery will capture the attention of Tesla and other electric car manufacturers that use lithium-ion batteries, such as Nissan Motor Co. Ltd., General Motors Co., and Ford Motor Co.

“The country can play a leading role in the electronic car business if the mineral is discovered in commercial quantity,” said Chief Executive of the Minerals Commission Kwaku Addai Antwi-Boasiako.

John Peter Amewu, minister for lands and natural resources, recently led a nine-member Ghanaian delegation to attract investors to the mining sector as part of the 2018 Mining Indaba Conference last month in South Africa.

Bloomberg Law

Since early mining days, gold has been the focus of mining in Ghana, particularly in the Ashanti region. The world’s second-largest producer of gold after South Africa is Ghana, where diamonds and base metals such as manganese ore, iron, and bauxite are mined as well.

While local news reported that lithium is a new discovery in the Volta region, Isaac Abraham, acting head of communications for the Ghana Minerals Commission, told Bloomberg Environment March 20 that investigations still need to be done there. Only the Ashanti and Central regions of Ghana that have confirmed the occurrence of lithium, he said.

The element “has existed for some time,” Abraham said, as the Egyasimanku Hill lithium resource was defined by the Ghana Geological Survey in 1962 but remained unnoticed for years.

Commercial product won’t come for years, according to Christopher Perrella, chemicals analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence.

“It will be a number of years until you see commercial product. It may be a decade before you see commercial extraction,” he said. “Extraction and processing it chemically so that battery makers would use it is a significant investment in green fields. It must then must meet quality standards. This takes capital and industrial know-how.”

Ghana does have a location advantage. “You can get it out in ocean and into global market, but it depends on global demand in 10 years and that’s so far out,” Perrella adds.

Valuable Lithium

The lightest metal on the periodic table, lithium has a unique chemical profile and is often alloyed with aluminum, copper, manganese, and cadmium to make high-performance alloys for aircraft. A derivative, lithium hydroxide, is used to absorb carbon dioxide in space vehicles. Lithium compounds also are used as mood-stabilizing drugs.

Lithium batteries are common in a variety of consumer devices—from laptops, mobile phones to golf carts and electronic cigarettes—and has industrial applications as well, including heat-resistant glass and ceramics, lubricating greases, and fusion fuel in staged thermonuclear weapons.

The lithium industry is projected to grow over the next five years, according to a 2017 report from consultancy IbisWorld.

This growth and the rising green movement will fuel demand for electric vehicles and energy storage systems that use lithium-ion batteries. Overall, revenue is projected to grow at an annualized rate of 1.4 percent over the five years to $965 million, according to IbisWorld.

The element is also part of rechargeable batteries in electric cars and aluminum-lithium for spacecraft. Neither Tesla Inc. nor SpaceX responded to Bloomberg Environment’s request for comment.

IronRidge Agreements

IronRidge Resources Ltd. last year said it identified “multiple, significant outcroppings of lithium in Ghana.” Its mining operations now map and sample the region.

The Australian company, through a joint venture with Ghanaian companies Obotan Minerals Ltd. and Merlink Resources Ltd., now holds the rights to acquire historic Egyasimanku Hill, which surveys indicate has a potential deposit of 1.48 million tons.

“IronRidge has the Central Region,” Abraham told Bloomberg. “There is also lithium in part of the Ashanti Region, but no one has done any work on that area as of now.”

The company recently expanded its lithium interests in Ghana, including an agreement with Ghanaian company Joy Transporters that provides IronRidge with exclusive rights to an exploration license in the Central Region town of Saltpond and lithium project in Cape Coast.

IronRidge also has exclusive rights to a prospective lithium license portfolio covering 1,177 square kilometers (454 square miles) in neighboring Cote d’Ivoire.

“Enhancing and consolidating the company’s ground position along the Cape Coast lithium project corridor is an integral step in the company’s strategy of building a lithium project pipeline in Ghana,” IronRidge Chief Executive Officer Vincent Mascolo said in a statement.

 

By Diosa B.G. Woods


How solar is changing Ghana’s real estate market ? If you are involved in the business of constructing a new building in Ghana, whether it’s a logistics center, a manufacturing plant or a multi-family residence in East Legon, most likely installing solar panels was mentioned at some point in the process. Solar panels are being integrated into more and more new constructions, and some cities like Tema and Accra are leading the way.

Our research also indicates that there is a high demand for 2-3 bedroom houses and the cost of land and litigation has pushed the direction of real estate developments into apartment complexes rather than single detached or semi detached homes. Rooftop solar is a great investment that can generate hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of dollars and has a return on investment of just 3-5 years. It increases the life of the roof, and the value of the property. Every owner, architect and general contractor should consider how they can integrate solar in their new construction.

This renewable energy revolution is a global one and many new home owners in Ghana are currently considering going green in their next real estate project, .with an average daily effective sunshine hours of 5.5 hours, Ghana is a great place to go solar. There is generally a hunger for renewable energy options even though many do it for  environmental and energy security reasons. Another school of thought indicates that the rising costs of diesel and the effects of pollution are gradually giving diesel generators an “uncool”  or even “savage” tag. How solar is changing Ghana’s real estate market ?

But where do you start? Should you integrate solar into new construction or just wait until later?

No Muss, No Fuss

The first thing to note is that adding solar to a new building doesn’t mean you need to redesign the whole building. In fact, only minor adjustments, if any at all, will be needed. However, there are some things to consider that will make the process of switching to solar easier. By planning ahead and integrating solar during construction, you can tap into efficiencies during construction and save money.

An nocheski installer installing a Victron Energy multiplus compact inverter

For example, you should ensure the structural load of the roof can support a solar PV system. Most roofs can support solar without structural reinforcements, but if your current building design can’t support solar, you want to catch this early on before you begin construction.

Brighten up the Bottom Line

You can also integrate solar into your building design, saving money by making the solar installation process more efficient. A few examples of this include strategic designs that may consider ventilation, insulation and air conditioning units, and integrating the solar system’s electrical wiring and equipment into your building design. This type of planning will lower your overall cost of solar installation whilst adding an energy efficient tag to the project.

Get In and Get Out

The last thing to consider is that installing solar during construction minimizes the disruption to your operations. Once your building is operational, installing solar will have minimal impact on your day-to-day work, but it is always better to complete the installation before people are in the building. That way, you will be producing clean energy and saving money from day one. How solar is changing Ghana’s real estate market?

The Future is Bright

Thousands of companies install solar after the building is complete, but some forward thinking can make your solar installation cheaper and more efficient. The process of transitioning to solar can be daunting. As the CEO of Royal Estates Group, Mr. Stanley Owusu shared regarding the company’s recent transition to solar panels, “I couldn’t make heads or tails of it.” They turned to a Nocheski solar to help them navigate the design process, solar installation.The result is the installation of several Victron multiplus inverters in Oasis estates projects.The evidence is clear that whether you’re a business owner or a commercial real estate developer, solar is an excellent investment opportunity. Integrating solar into a building during construction only gives an added boost to the economics.Real estate stakeholders such as architects, builders and homeowners may contact us on 0244270092 or email [email protected] for inquiries and how they may benefit from expert advice for prospective real estate projects.


Lithium-ion batteries in Renewable energy resources – such as wind, water or solar solutions – hold great promise. They could provide energy while overcoming Africa’s infrastructural challenges. But this energy would still need to be stored. Lithium-ion batteries might provide a solution. The Conversation Africa asked Bernard Jan Bladergroen about the challenges and opportunities.

What are lithium-ion batteries and what are its benefits?

Lithium ion, or Li-ion, batteries are a type of rechargeable battery. They are a popular choice because when well looked after, they can be drained and charged literally thousands of times which makes them superior to commonly used lead acid batteries.

Lithium-ion batteries – like other batteries used to store energy – act as a buffer between power generation and consumption. The batteries are charged when power is available from, example, a wind turbine, solar panels or the grid, and then provide power when it’s not.

If Lithium-ion batteries could be manufactured in Africa, on the appropriate scale, they would become cheaper and power users could rely more on renewable energy than they do now. This would open the path for clean, sustainable energy, mitigating the effects of climate change. It could also boost economies.

Africa already has part of the solution: photovoltaic (PV) panels are common and the energy they produce in South Africa is approximately  40% cheaper than that generated from fossil or nuclear fueled power stations. The main drawback of PV power is that it can only really be generated between 5-7 hours daily (depending on what part of the continent one is located. That’s not when most people need to use it, so it has to be stored cheaply.

Lithium-ion batteries have been commercialized elsewhere in the world. Why not in Africa yet?

Li-ion batteries are used in many commercially available products, like power tools, toys, electric bikes, laptops and mobile phones. Large Li-ion battery packs in home and grid-power applications are becoming rapidly more popular in many countries, including Africa.

There are only a few Li-ion battery factories in the US, Poland, South Korea, Japan and China. Most of the companies that run them work closely with electric vehicle manufacturers and consumer good production sites. Some of the top 10 companies manufacturing the batteries include; Panasonic, Toshiba, Samsung SDI, LG-Chem and Tesla.

There are a few small companies in South Africa who assemble battery packs using imported cells. And, to the best knowledge of the author, there’s only one facility on the African continent that has the capability to produce Li-ion battery cells at pilot scale: the University of the Western Cape’s Energy Storage Innovation Lab. The lab has already been laying the groundwork for industrial Li-ion batteries assembly. Though I cannot say with certainty that Li-ion cells are not being produced elsewhere in Africa, it would be hard for a commercial plant to go unnoticed as it would have to be very large to be profitable.

freedom won lithium-ion battery installed in Accra

There is huge opportunity. South Africa has almost 80% of the world’s known reserves of manganese – an important component of the most popular battery. Because the companies that produce Li-on batteries have deep pockets, and because the price of manganese is relatively low, they have been able to import it from South Africa.

A growing market will eventually justify the creation of a local battery production plant. But to produce batteries at a competitive price, a large scale facility with an investment of at least $1 billion is required. Only in a facility that produced millions of excellent quality cells per day would the cost per cell be able to compete with cells produced on other continents. It will be challenging to raise the required capital in Africa.

What would be the major challenges in commercializing Li-ion across the continent?

To achieve commercialization across the continent, the cost of a Li-ion battery system needs to be lower than any alternative energy storage system. Currently, Li-ion batteries cost between $500-$1000/kWh, significantly more than Lead Acid batteries, but since they last much longer than Lead Acid, they can offer a better deal.

The desired shift away from our unsustainable fossil-fuel-based economy can be realized when we produce Li-ion batteries that last many years and cost as little as $300/kWh. Economy of scale is crucial to achieve these costs.

The electrification gains could be huge. Renewable energy – such as wind or solar solutions – combined with an energy storage device that could deliver electricity at the cost of electricity from a power station would be a game changer. And because Africa’s power distribution network is still underdeveloped, investors in the device could see returns sooner than in regions with a fully developed transmission network that’s already paid for.


Why do solar street lights fail in Ghana ?Why are our streets so dark? Why are we not seeing working solar street lights in our streets today?

The answer is simple: some stand-alone solar street lights cause more problems than they solve. In some cases they don’t solve any problems at all.In Ghana a lot of streetlights are installed during  the election year ,streets are kept lit constantly and then all of a sudden the lights go out and never come on again.In recent times regular streetlights have been replaced with stand alone solar streetlights and some of them are quite fancy.

Smart Solar Street Light installation in Antigua and Barbuda

The real question is still whether this technology is economically feasible right now or whether we should wait for technology to evolve further before we take the inevitable plunge.The question of feasibility has reared its head due to bad decisions on the implementation of inadequate solar
components combined with “quick fix” solutions versus sustainable, long-term solutions.
The solar street light is a prime example of this. How many solar street lights have you seen that are not in working order? If you haven’t seen any solar street lights at all, it may be that the local municipality has not been convinced of the feasibility of these systems because so many systems have failed to date.
The solar street light is mostly sold as an LED street light with a battery box and a solar panel mounted on top of a 6 – 9 m pole. This is known as a “stand-alone” solar street light. The theory is that the solar panel will charge the battery during the day and, at night, the light will use the power stored in the battery to provide light.This idea should be considered a match made in heaven and a solution to many problems: streets lights use a lot of electricity and eliminating even only half of this consumption would lighten the strain burden on the grid. LED has a much longer life expectancy, so maintenance costs on the lights should
be minimal. So why do we not see this exciting development in our streets today? The answer lies with a combination of quality and longevity and with an understanding of the products.

Victron Energy’s highly efficient, ultra fast MPPT Solar Charge Controllers provide more efficiency in solar street lighting

The lighting units use quality components. The solar panels are 24% efficient (about as good as you can get commercially) and the LED lights are among the best at 160 lumens per watt (lm/W). The more lm/W a lamp produces the more efficient it is.A traditional incandescent light is around 15 lm/W, an energy-saving fluorescent bulb is around 60 lm/W. Easy then to see the attraction of solar power for free and lamps that are over 10 times as efficient as old fashioned bulbs – all which nicely meets companies requirements for improvements in sustainability and efficiency.

EnGoPlanet Inc ,a New York based company chose to use Victron Energy’s highly efficient, ultra fast MPPT Solar Charge Controllers, plus Victron batteries together with lighting options such as:

  • Wireless internet connection for remote control and management.
  • Smart Cameras.
  • Sensors for collecting various environmental data.
  • Mobile phone charging stations.

Their Smart Solar Street Lights are used in the Kuwait project, where 140 units have been installed. Petar Mirovic, CEO of EnGoPlanet tells me that the success of the project has interested other oil companies too, such as Saudi Aramco who are considering an installation of over 1,000 units in the coming months.

Well – that all sounds to me like a recipe for success!


Total Ghana Limited on Friday, commissioned its first solar-powered service station in the country with a 35-kilowatt capacity, at the Tema main harbour.This expected to save the company at $1000 per moth in electricity bills

The solar-powered station has a total of 225m2 solar panels comprising of 165m2 on the station’s shop and restaurant building, and 60 m2 on the pump island canopy.

Mr Eric Fanchini, Managing Director, said the energy architecture comprises of the solar panels, inverters, batteries, genset and the grid.

Mr Fanchini stated that it was his outfit’s goal to solarize at least 50 per cent of their network of 250 service stations within five years.

He indicated that the solar installation was in accordance with the company’s ambition of being the ‘responsible energy major’ as solar was now part of the modernization plan of Total Petroleum Ghana.

Dr Mohammed Amin Adam, Deputy Minister of Energy, commended management of Total for taking advantage of the abundant renewable energy opportunities in the country.

Dr Adam announced that the Ministry of Energy had commenced the implementation of the scaling-up Renewable Energy Program (SREP) with the objective of delivering over 55 mini-grids, 38,000 stanalone solar home systems and 15,000 net-metered solar-with-storage systems for homes and small-medium enterprise across the country.

Dr Adam added that the Ministry was accelerating the process of promoting the use of solar in public buildings and facilities to reduce their reliance on the national grid as well as improve the financial health of the utility companies.

“We are currently procuring 65k Wp solar to meet about 35-40 per cent of the Ministry’s total load and this would be extended to cover the other state institutions”.

Mr Kojo Jackson, Director, Human Resource and Administration, National Petroleum Authority (NPA) congratulated Total for being the first petroleum company to commission a solar service station in Ghana and urged them to maintain the high standards in their operations.

Mr Jackson expressed concern about the illegal fuel activities undertaken by some unscrupulous persons noting that the NPA was collaborating with the security agencies to deal ruthlessly with any person found culpable in the act.

He added that any licensed petroleum service provider found to be engaging in any illegality would have its operating license suspended or permanently revoked.

Source: GNA


If you are a state broadcaster, Fiji is a difficult region.It takes Victron Energy to power Digital TV in Fiji

900,000 Fijians live on 110 of the nation’s 330 islands …which are sprinkled over a huge area of the Pacific Ocean. Staying in touch with island news, or enjoying the region’s entertainment programmes, has always been challenging – often marred by weak signals and power outages. That’s all changed. Fiji now has ultra-modern Digital TV available to 97% of the population. How has this been achieved?

Fiji is well organised and has one of the best-developed economies of the Pacific region, based mainly on tourism and sugar. Yet the Fiji Broadcasting Corporation struggled to provide a reliable service owing to the mountainous topography, and difficulties of getting power to offshore repeater stations using fragile infrastructure, dogged by extreme weather events.

Derek-Gaeth-Hitech-COO-digital solar powered container installation complete.

New Zealand based Hi Tech Solutions were the company chosen to provide the infrastructure for a major installation which would allow for the Digital switch-over. The key to the success of the project, says Hi Tech’s Derek Gaeth, lay in their decision to install all components inside 20 foot shipping containers. This allowed for the system-build to take place in the controlled environment of Hi Tech’s own workshops; and greatly simplified transportation to the often remote sites of the transmission stations. Equipment for the larger sites required 5 containers to house batteries, inverters, generators and fuel tanks; together with all the switching gear required for Digital, FM, and Data Transmission. The ‘container’ solution also allowed for short on-site build times – where arrival at bare site to sign-off could be achieved in less than 7 days.

Grid electricity is unreliable, so provision has been made in all locations to include solar power  …virtually guaranteeing 24 hour continuous operation under any circumstances. The power demand at the larger sites is around 12kWh – though this can be reduced in abnormal circumstances and still provide essential services.  Apart from reducing the carbon footprint – most power is diesel generated – the solar power provision also reduces cost: The largest site alone is projected to save FJ$1.3 million over three years.Power from the solar panels is stored in Redflow’s Zinc-Bromine flow batteries. These have been chosen for their long life (10 years – guaranteed); their ability to withstand 100% depletion – without damage, and full recovery; and also because they have proven to operate flawlessly in the high tropical temperatures for which the islands are so popular as a tourist destination.

These large-format 10kWh batteries can be paralleled into huge capacity storage – 600kWh in the largest Fiji installation – though even larger banks have been built elsewhere in the world. An added advantage is that their very weight (of 240kg) is a deterrent to theft in remote locations which cannot be ‘policed’.

Victron 10kVA Quattro Inverter Chargers – configured in both single- and three-phase – were chosen to partner this battery storage for several reasons: Victron technology has been built to work seamlessly with many battery technologies – Zinc Bromine being well-proven; also the Quattro is able to work with two power sources – if the weather turns gloomy for an extended spell, batteries can be recharged with power from a diesel Generator – with automatic switching. Peak power demand or unstable grid conditions will cause the Quattro to patch-in with power assistance – with invisible switching times of 20ms …and also Victron equipment can be remotely monitored and controlled using the Victron Remote Management portal.  The Venus GX has been chosen for this part of the operation.

The specification for the largest full off-grid site is impressive: Designed to supply 24kW continuously it features a 192kW solar array controlled by 15 MPPT solar chargers (Victron 250/100); 600kWh battery storage; 12 x 10kVA Quattro’s – configured for three-phase operation; and 24 Fronius Primo inverters.

Across the network power provision totalling 1.2 megawatts has been built to withstand winds of 350kph.

Hitech is a New Zealand headquartered company which provides infrastructure for the commercial generation of solar power – creating sustainable micro-grids for telecoms, remote communities, broadcasting and connecting the IoT. It’s a credit to the team that not only were they the only company able to provide the Government of Fiji with a plan and costing for this major national installation – but they were able to deliver it, on time, as promised.

With their state-of-the-art digital TV transmission infrastructure, Fijians can now catch up on the latest news from almost anywhere.

Many African Nations like Ghana are challenged with electricity and could expand their grid with such innovative solutions from Nocheski Solar

Credit: this story was culled from the victron energy website The image used at the head of this article is by Nick Hobgood.

Justin Tyers


Education and Grid electricity can’t be taken for granted when you happen to live in one of the most sparsely populated countries on the planet. If you live in the rural part of any country ‘public services’ like education  has a habit of passing you by; but in Botswana – with its half-a-million square kilometers of rural land – most of the country is ‘off grid’. The Government is making one of its biggest investments to make sure children don’t miss out on a modern education…The Ministry of Education and Skills has embarked on an ambitious project to provide 20 rural schools with state of the art off-grid Solar Power plants – each providing an impressive 90 to 150kVA. That’s enough for the School’s pupils, office block, kitchen and up to 10 associated ‘staff houses’. A micro-grid.

 

The government recognizes the importance of education and seeks to offer an equal opportunity to all Botswanan children -regardless of whether they grow up in the city – or remotely.  No electricity means no computers – and without learning computer skills a child becomes part of a lost generation …unable to reach his/her full potential. For that reason the Government have signed off this initiative which represents one of their biggest, newest investments.

 

A long way from the cities, sophistication of these electronic installations is an unfamiliar sight – but no short-cuts have been made in guaranteeing the future of electricity provision, with state of the art power plants which may comprise of up to 12 Inverters 48V Quattro 10kVA;  and BlueSolar 150/70 MPPTs.  There’s no shortage of sun, of course, to fire-up the BlueSolar PV Panels in arrays of up to 47kWp which harvest the power into OPzV Batteries banks as large as 288kWh.

Now the very latest technology is available to these children as an educational tool.  No matter that their school is far out of town, increasingly rural children can enjoy the same advantages as children in the cities.By taking a long-term view the power needs of remote schools, villages – even towns – can be met through installing Solar Powered Micro-Grids. The power used by these far-sighted schemes is cleaner; uses less infrastructure; is more easily maintained; and is more secure from acts of god …or civil unrest. Not only that, they have their costs under control …and the price they pay for their power, over the lifetime of the installation is a fraction of the price paid by those of us who are grid-connected.

Think about this: In the UK the average annual bill for electricity today is £600. The average annual electricity price-rise is 8%. In 25 years time (the lifetime of a solar panel) the average annual bill for electricity will be £4,100. The economic argument for generating your own electricity from Solar Power has been won – it’s cheaper.In many ways – the Botswanan Government, and Botswanan schoolchildren are showing us the way ahead.

Justin Tyers

source: Victron Energy website


The Kruger National Park is home to a third of the world’s remaining Rhino – a fact which makes the park attractive to poachers who kill Rhino just for their horns.Rhino Poaching Surveillance in the Kruger National Park

In order to try to prevent the Rhino from becoming extinct – Park Rangers have to be constantly on the lookout for poachers in a wilderness which extends to 2 million hectares. That’s an area equivalent to a box whose sides measure 140km/90miles – you can’t be everywhere at once, so the Rangers have installed some discreet technology to help.

Saving the Rhino is a race against time because the growth in poaching has been alarming: In 2007, 13 Rhino were poached in South Africa …by 2014 that figure had increased 9000% –  1215 animals were illegally slaughtered in that year alone.

Powdered Rhino horn has become more valuable than cocaine – fuelled by the misguided belief, particularly in the East, that it has medicinal value. When prices rose recently, Rhino became a target-interest of international organised crime – turning what was then localised illegal activity into something of global industry.

In order to maximise their policing, Kruger National Park Rangers have set up a number of radar detection systems, strategically installed to offer wide area surveillance, both day and night. Three or four units allow them to cover half the park area. The radar detects movement and plots it on a map. Remotely operated camera’s allow the operators to distinguish between  ‘Animal’ and ‘Human’ movement. Suspicious activity is then intercepted by truck or helicopter.

Financed mainly by charitable donations the surveillance installations are highly mobile, frequently moved, and can be packed for deployment by truck – or even slung under a helicopter and flown-in to new surveillance sites.

These mobile installations need reliable off-grid power source – for which Lithium battery specialist BlueNova located in Cape Town led the system design. Lithium Batteries are an ideal solution to frequently-relocated installations – amp for amp they’re almost 80% smaller and lighter than their Lead/Acid equivalents. And amongst a topography of scrub and boulder, PV panels offer discreet power-generation. They do not impinge on the visual amenity which is so important to wildlife tourists on safari; and they remain undetected by would-be poachers.

The power plant features 26V-8kWh BlueNova Lithium Ferro Phosphate battery (LiFePO4)

24V 3kVA Victron Multiplus

2 x BlueSolar Victron MPPTs  Solar Chargers to regulate the six-panel PV array.

 

Currently, three Rhino’s are killed illegally every day. At that rate the animals will soon face extinction. All that can be done to slow the decline should be done. Against armed poachers, the Kruger National Park Rangers are carrying-out a dangerous job with utter commitment to conservation – this technology helps them reduce the slaughter.


When it comes to the buying decision for solar inverters, some buyers might be inclined to only look at pricing and spec sheets. While these are certainly buying criteria that should not be neglected, it is just a small portion of the bigger picture that needs to be looked at when choosing an inverter brand – because an inverter is more than what’s in the box.But why should you even consider Fronius Solar inverter?

As the solar inverter industry is becoming more commodified every year, inverter spec sheets are starting to look a lot more similar. Many inverter capabilities are driven by the same market requests and NEC code regulations, making features and pricing very similar across all inverter brands in the market. Therefore, a buyer could think that the only thing to look at is the price tag. However, it’s crucial to actually look past the spec sheet and the initial purchase price. When picking an inverter, you not only chose a piece of equipment, you are choosing a partner to work with for the next 20+ years. Thus, you might want to look into more than just “the box” and its price.

So what specific buying criteria is there beyond specs and price? The inverter is a critical component of a solar system, as it is not just responsible for DC to AC conversion, but also for the safety of a system, maximum power point tracking, grid interconnection and system monitoring. It is obvious that the inverter and its performance have a big impact on a system’s Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE) and profitability – inverter uptime, operation & maintenance (O&M) programs and warranty matter in that regard, and this is where the company behind the inverter plays a crucial role.

54kw fronius solar power system installed in Accra

When choosing an inverter partner for the long term, it is crucial that this partner is around beyond the lifetime of a system. Therefore, financial stability and bankability, as well as a global footprint with a local support infrastructure are key aspects to look at. There is no doubt that the fairly fragmented inverter market will see further consolidation, given the ongoing price pressure. This increases the risk of certain manufacturers going out of business and leaving both installers and system owners in the lurch.

Furthermore, an easy to reach manufacturer support hotline and personal, long-lasting relationships on manufacturer’s level help installers through the entire process from designing systems to after-sales service for 20+ years – ensuring uptime and quick service. Since all power electronics can fail at some point, customer-friendly warranty terms and an easy RMA process are making a big difference. Power electronics manufacturers from advanced industries even offer spare part kits among certifications for contractors to conduct repairs cost-effectively in the field and within one truck-roll – a big impact on the profitability of a system.

All these aspects make a big difference and cannot be found on a spec sheet or on the price tag. Make a smart choice. Do not just look at the spec sheet and the price tag, when picking your  solar inverter. It’s a decision that will impact you over the next 20+ years and you want to be sure that your considerations are aimed at this period of time too.That is why Fronius solar inverters is a great choice.

NOCHESKI – YOUR INVERTER PARTNER FOR THE LONG TERM

Fronius has been in business for more than 70 years and shows a proven track record of long-lasting customer relationships and ongoing support for every product ever shipped. The company is privately held and cash operated, providing highest bankability. Fronius business is based on three independent business units which focus on completely different industrial sectors (Welding, Solar, Battery Charging) – yet they are based on a common technological focus on energy conversion. The Fronius 24/7 Service Solutions for inverters include online monitoring, Solar Online Support around the clock and the Fronius Solutions Provider program, a network of certified installers with direct access to Fronius.

To learn more about the Fronius Solar Solutions, contact [email protected] today or call 0244270092 to speak to our product specialist


Minister for Energy, Boakye Agyarko, is hopeful that  50 megawatts solar power to be added to Ghana’s national grid in 18 months within the next 18 months to augment the country’s energy delivery.

Speaking to B&FT after the signing of Memorandum of Understanding on renewable energy between the government and ENI Ghana, Mr. Agyarko said: “We are looking at an 18 months development and delivery timelines but it will all depend on a number of factors within their control; but, our expectation is that if all go on well within 18 months we should be able to start loading power from the solar systems through the same switchyard as Bui Power Authority’s Hydro onto the national grid.”

The Bui Power Authority, he said, has completed its switch yard to evacuate the full additional 250 megawatt to come online.

“What has not happened yet is ENI and Bui Power Authority sitting down and looking at the engineering of the solar portion and the development of the farm; that is something we have to leave to both sides to work out diligently. But within 18 months these engineering solutions and delivery are possible.”

Mr. Agyarko explained that government is playing a facilitating role with the construction of the solar system, since the project is entirely an ENI project.

“It is an ENI project; government is only facilitating the construction of the solar system where it will deliver power, it is just like any other independent power producer; it is not a cost to government,” he stressed.

Government has a target to have renewable energy constituting 10 percent of the country’s generation mix by 2020. There is also a plan to have government institutions supplementing their energy source with solar power.

Presently, less than 1% of electricity consumed locally is from renewable energy sources, a situation some players in the industry find worrying.

Parliament has already ratified a framework Agreement on the Establishment of the International Solar Alliance (ISA).

This means Ghana has already joined some 121 countries to access US$2 billion from the Indian government towards making renewable energy a reliable alternative to the more expensive sources of energy on the continent.

With this ratification, government hopes to expedite the integration of renewable energy in the sources for electricity among its institutions and agencies, including Junior and Senior High Schools.

Over the next five years, there would be significant increase of PV energy in the power mix for the country.

Signing the agreement, Luca Consentino, Executive Vice President ENI, Milan-Italy, assured government of the firm’s commitment to deliver world-class solar power to help augment the country’s energy.

ENI, an Italian international petroleum company, has been in Ghana since 2009. The government is in a US$7bn contract with the company to produce oil and gas at Cape Three Points.

Even though the company is involved in the exploration of oil and gas, Mr. Consentino indicated that his outfit is interested in renewable energy because “we believe that renewable energy is the future”.

For that reason, he said, it was collaborating with the government to realize its long-term strategy of integrating traditional businesses with renewable energy sources.