The fronius range of inverters are very suitable for grid-tie solar power systems and are currently being deployed all over the country by Nocheski solar

Ghana:Organizations to shift to solar net metering system

Mr Kwabena Otu Danquah, the Head of Renewable Energy Promotion of the Energy Commission, has advised organisations to shift to the solar net metering system to save them from getting into the higher consumption rate bracket.

 

He said net metering was a mechanism that fed the national grid with surplus solar energy from households while assisting them to save cost and urged consumers to take advantage of it.

Mr Danquah was speaking at a two-day solar industry workshop in Accra organised by the Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV) and the Association of Ghana Solar Industries (AGSI) on current initiatives and opportunities in Ghana’s energy sector.

He said the Energy Commission, in collaboration with the Electricity Company of Ghana, had installed 35 net metering systems in various homes in Accra on a pilot basis.

“We are waiting for the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) for the gazette to ensure that the new solar metering system fully takes off in Ghana,” he said.

Mr Danquah said the Energy Commission had created the enabling environment to ensure the attainment of enough renewable energy targets by 2020.

grid-tie solar power system with battery bank using victron and fronius systems

He said by the provision of the Renewable Energy Act 2011, 832, the Energy Commission, in collaboration with the Ghana Standards Authority, would enforce the law on the importation of renewable energy products that would meet good standards and certification.

He said: “The solar technology we know are perfect but the installation is the problem, hence the need for the Energy Commission to license all electricians and develop a training curriculum to train technicians to ensure good certification of solar.”

Mr Emmanuel Aziebor from the Netherland Development Organisation, a resource person, urged stakeholders in the solar industry to come out with substantive business models to convince the microfinance companies to invest in solar energy.

He advised the technical experts to support and sustain the technology whilst training more technicians on it.

Mr Aziebor said: “We need to have people prepared, trained and exposed to solar energy while looking at the local production of the products in future.”

Mr Eric Omane Acheampong, the President of AGSI, advised the members to develop activities on networking to enable them to assess their progress while sharing knowledge.

Mr James Robinson, the SNV Leader for Energy Sector, Ghana, gave the assurance that the SNV would continue to facilitate the activities of AGSI to sustain and promote solar energy in the country.

SOURCE:ENOCH DARFAH FRIMPONG/GRAPHIC ONLINE


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


Apparently the economics for backup power alone just aren’t that attractive.

Tesla has quietly removed all references to its 10-kilowatt-hour residential battery from the Powerwall website, as well as the company’s press kit. The company’s smaller battery designed for daily cycling is all that remains.

The change was initially made without explanation, which prompted industry insiders to speculate. Today, a Tesla representative confirmed the 10-kilowatt-hour option has been discontinued.

“We have seen enormous interest in the Daily Powerwall worldwide,” according to an emailed statement to GTM. “The Daily Powerwall supports daily use applications like solar self-consumption plus backup power applications, and can offer backup simply by modifying the way it is installed in a home. Due to the interest, we have decided to focus entirely on building and deploying the 7-kilowatt-hour Daily Powerwall at this time.”

The 10-kilowatt-hour option was marketed as a backup power supply capable of 500 cycles, at a price to installers of $3,500. Tesla was angling to sell the battery to consumers that want peace of mind in the event the grid goes down, like during another Superstorm Sandy. The problem is that the economics for a lithium-ion backup battery just aren’t that attractive.

Even at Tesla’s low wholesale price, a 500-cycle battery just doesn’t pencil out against the alternatives, especially once the inverter and other system costs are included. State-of-the-art backup generators from companies like Generac and Cummins sell for $5,000 or less. These companies also offer financing, which removes any advantage Tesla might claim with that tactic, as GTM’s Jeff St. John pointed out last spring.

“Even some of the deep cycling lead acid batteries offer 1,000 cycles and cost less than half of the $3,500 price tag for Tesla Powerwall,” said Ravi Manghani, senior energy storage analyst at GTM Research. “For pure backup applications only providing 500 cycles, lead acid batteries or gensets are way more economical.”In Ghana  good  quality lead acid batteries such as the AGM telecom batteries retail at $219/Kw/hr and can be purchased at nocheski Solar (Victron Energy partner ) in the port city of  Tema. These AGM batteries have 1800 cycles at a D.O.D of 30% or 750 cycles at a D.O.D of 50%

 AGM telecom battery by victron energy

AGM telecom battery by victron energy

In California, batteries can benefit from the state’s Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP). But California regulators have indicated that battery systems need to be able to cycle five times a week in order to be eligible, which would exclude Tesla’s bigger battery.

“In current discussions on SGIP program overhaul, it is very likely that stronger performance requirements may get added, which will make a 10-kilowatt-hour/500 cycles product outright ineligible (if cycled only once a week), or last only 2 years (if cycled every weekday for about 500 cycles over 2 years),” said Manghani. “In short, the market’s expectation is that for a $3,500 price tag, the product needs to have more than just 500 cycles (i.e., only backup capabilities).”

Backup power alone simply doesn’t have as strong a case as using a battery for self-consumption. That said, the opportunities for self-consumption are still few and far between.

A GTM Research analysis for residential storage, purely for time-of-use shifting or self-consumption. found that the economics only pan out in certain conditions. In Hawaii, for instance, the economics of solar-plus-storage under the state’s new self supply tariff looks only slightly more attractive than solar alone under the grid supply option.

“So it comes down to the question of customer adoption of a relatively new technology for only slightly improved economics,” said Manghani. “This doesn’t mean residential customers are not deploying energy storage,” but he noted that these were the early adopters.

Tesla appears to be focusing its efforts on first movers and the markets where storage for energy arbitrage and self-consumption makes economic sense.

While the 10-kilowatt-hour option has been removed, the Powerwall website continues to offer specifications for Tesla’s 6.4-kilowatt-hour battery designed for daily cycling applications, such as load shifting. The battery is warrantied for 10 years, or roughly 5,000 cycles, with a 100 percent depth of discharge. The wholesale price to installers is $3,000.

The smaller battery is often marketed as 7 kilowatt-hours, which would appear to have a price of $429 per kilowatt-hour. In realty, it’s a 6.4 kilowatt-hour battery at a price of $469 per kilowatt-hour.

A bigger, cheaper or more integrated battery product could soon be added to Tesla’s lineup. In January, CEO Elon Musk announced a new Powerwall option will be released this summer.

“We’ve got the Tesla Powerwall and Powerpack, which we have a lot of trials underway right now around the world. We’ve seen very good results,” said Musk during a talk to Tesla car owners in Paris, The Verge reports. “We’ll be coming out with version two of the Powerwall probably around July, August this year, which will see [a] further step-change in capabilities.”

At this point, it’s unclear what the “step-change” will be.

 

 


Why your Lead Acid Battery is all Swollen Up

Working in the solar Energy industry in Ghana, I often come across several batteries that are swollen up .These mostly lead acid batteries have often than not, been purchased at very high prices not too long ago. On this particular occasion our team was conducting a survey at a prospects home in Tema when I noticed that all of her eight 100Ah batteries were swollen.

Typically a 100Ah battery will cost between $200-$300 depending on quality .In addition to this, most suppliers in Ghana give little or no warranty even though some global brands like Victron Energy give up to two year warranty on their batteries .This article aims to reveal to the public why lead acid batteries swell-up and how to avoid the problem.

Sealed lead acid batteries – both AGM and gelled electrolyte can swell up and expand sometimes. This happens due to the construction of lead acid batteries which is referred to as “recombinant”. They are constructed in such a way to allow absorption of gasses released during the chemical process inside the battery.

The positive and negative plates are placed very close together with only the thickness of the divider separating them. They are tightly secured in the cell cavity resulting in very little extra space inside the battery. When the cell plates expand, it exerts pressure on the inside walls of the battery. This situation can cause the battery case to swell resulting in possible splits and cracks at various points of the battery.

Why Do Battery Cell Plates Expand?

The cell plates most often expand due to overcharging of the battery. The battery may also expand due to shorting of the terminals of the battery. Both these situations results in heating up of the cell plates inside the battery. The lead of the cell plates has a high expansion rate when heated.

The outcome is that the battery experiences extreme pressure inside that swells up and deforms it. The swelling-up of the battery may also cause great damage to the internal components and parts.

Why your Lead Acid Battery is all Swollen Up ,How to Avoid Swelling Up of the Battery?

Overcharging or short-circuiting of the battery is the only reason for swelling up of the lead acid battery. The problem is not inherent in the battery itself. In order to avoid swelling up of the battery you need to tackle the underlying cause of the problem.

You need to follow proper instructions in charging the battery. The culprit may be that you are using a wrong charger when charging the battery. If the charger is providing too much current, this may be the cause for battery swelling up. For instance, if you used 24V charger to charge a 12V battery it will most probably result in overcharging of the battery.

Whatever the reason for overcharging of the device, the end result is the swelling up of the battery. To avoid the prospect of overcharging or short-circuiting of the battery, you need to take the following precautions:

  • Use the right type of charger that is fully compatible with the battery.
  • Ensure proper polarity when connecting the charger to the battery
  • Shield the battery terminals to avoid short-circuiting of the battery
  • Use a charger whose maximum charging capacity is lower than the battery
  • Using a good quality charger
Victron Energy Blue smart charger is a good choice for small battery banks in Ghana

Victron Energy Blue smart charger is a good choice for small battery banks in Ghana

 Battery charging tip: increase battery life with Victron 4-step adaptive charging

Victron developed the adaptive charge curve. The 4-step adaptive charge curve is the result of years of research and testing.

The Victron four-step adaptive charge curve solves the 3 main problems of the 3 step curve:

  • Battery Safe mode

In order to prevent excessive gassing, Victron has invented the ‘Battery Safe Mode’. The battery Safe Mode will limit the rate of voltage increase once the gassing voltage has been reached. Research has shown that this will reduce internal gassing to a safe level.

  • Variable absorption time

Based on the duration of the bulk stage, the charger calculates how long the absorption time should be in order to fully charge the battery. If the bulk time is short, this means the battery was already charged and the resulting absorption time will also be short, whereas a longer bulk time will also result in a longer absorption time.

  • Storage mode

After completion of the absorption period the battery should be fully charged, and the voltage is lowered to the

float or standby level. If no discharge occurs during the next 24 hours, the voltage is reduced even further and the battery goes into storage mode. The lower storage voltage reduces corrosion of the positive plates.

Once every week the charge voltage is increased to the absorption level for a short period to compensate for selfdischarge (Battery Refresh mode

The above tips will help you to protect your battery from swelling up and expanding. Taking precautions will not only protect your battery from being damaged but it will also minimize the threat of fire caused due to overheating of the battery.

Click here for more information on Victron Energy AGM & Gel batteries


Air conditioning & the rising electricity tariffs in Ghana

My Nigerian friends often say Ghanaian folk have a signature look, very dark skin and red eyes. This they claim is as a result of the scorching sun in Ghana. Ghana is hot o…….

Average temperatures often range between  35-40 degree Celsius with high levels of humidity . Due to the nature of the weather in Ghana Air-conditioning is no longer a luxury.Most homes and offices who can afford , have invested in one form of cooling or the other while those who cant have settled for fans.But what happens when there is erratic power supply and load shedding  AKA Dumsor  in Ghana? I bet that is another topic for another day.

little children cooling off in bowls of water at home on a sunny day in Accra

Recent electricity price hikes in Ghana have made Air Conditioners a pain point for most who are concerned about their electricity bills. Electricity bills increase significantly when an air conditioner is added to the list of appliances in a household. Although it is difficult to significantly reduce the “big” impact of an air conditioner on your electricity bills, it can be managed by choosing the right technology, and following the right installation/maintenance/operation procedure and also putting into consideration the insulation of room where the air conditioner is being operated.The latest and the most efficient technology that is available on market today is the Inverter Technology for air conditioners. Inverter technology is designed in such a way as to save 30-50% of electricity (units consumed) compared to regular air conditioning systems.At Nocheski ,we live up to our promise of driving your business with technology and we recommend the use of energy efficient appliances such as inverter Air-conditioners from brands including LG,Daikin and Samsung , Gencool just to name a few.

How do air conditioners work?

For most people, air conditioner just throws cool air at the temperature one sets it at. But does it really work that way? In principle, an air-conditioner during the cooling process, takes the indoor air, cools it by passing it through evaporator and releases it back in the room. It is quite opposite to how our good old air coolers used to work. Air coolers used to take outside air, cool it with water and throw it in. But air conditioners just work on internal air. Along with evaporator an air conditioner also has a compressor that compresses the gas (refrigerant) in the AC to cool it that in turn cools the incoming internal air from the room.

In a regular air conditioner:

The compressor is either off or on. When it is on, it works at full capacity and consumes the maximum electricity it is designed to consume. When the thermostat reaches the temperature level set in the AC, the compressor stops and the fan (in AC) continues to operate. When the thermostat senses that the temperature has increased, the compressor starts again.

Air Conditioners with Inverter Technology

The inverter technology works like an accelerator in a car. When compressor needs more power, it gives it more power. When it needs less power, it gives less power. With this technology, the compressor is always on, but draws less power or more power depending on the temperature of the incoming air and the level set in the thermostat. The speed and power of the compressor is adjusted appropriately. Originally developed in Japan for use in air-conditioning systems, digital inverter technology is now applied globally in appliances such as refrigerators, washing machines and even microwave ovens.

Samsung has a new line-up of household appliances for the digital home that saves on cost and offers more features.

Samsung has a new line-up of household appliances for the digital home that saves on cost and offers more features.

What is benefit of Inverter Technology?

Every air conditioner is designed for a maximum peak load. So a 1.5hp AC is designed for a certain size of room and 1 hp for a different size. But not all rooms are of same size. A regular air conditioner of 1.5hp capacity will always run at peak power requirement when the compressor is running. An air conditioner with inverter technology will run continuously but will draw only that much power that is required to keep the temperature stable at the level desired. So it kind of automatically adjusts its capacity based on the requirement of the room it is cooling thus requiring less electricity for efficient operation although air conditioner with Inverter Technology adjusts its capacity based on the room requirement, it is very important to install a right sized air conditioner in a room. Please make sure that you evaluate the room and air conditioner capacity before you make a purchase.For further clarifications on this subject ,you may contact our produuct specialist in Tema  here


“Just  2% of Ghana’s land can provide 924GWh of power annually” ( Maxmillian Kwarteng  ,Gramax Energy Group)

Before I begin, permit me to ask this, if Oil and Gas for Thermal Power Plants and the other fossils are that “Cheap” as some want us to believe, why then are electricity rates still going up?Every hour, the sun radiates more energy onto our earth than the entire human population uses in one whole year. The technology required to harness the power of the sun is available now. Solar power alone could provide all of the energy Ghanaians consume and there is no shortage of solar energy like there has been with the Akosombo Dam in recent days. The truth is, we do not need advanced math skills to follow and perform the solar arithmetic to prove that Ghana’s energy independence could be achieved with solar energy.

Every square meter (1m²) of the earth’s surface, when exposed to direct sunlight, receives about 1000 watts (1 kilowatt) of energy from the sun’s light. In reality, this power per hour for every square meter (1m²) might be more or less, depending on the angle of sunlight, which changes with the time of day, and the geographical location. On average, the sub Saharan region of Africa receives about (3 – 4 kilowatt per hour) of solar energy.

Nonetheless, studies have revealed promising potential for this resource in Ghana. According to the SWERA Ghana Project report, Wa, the 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 on the contrary 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).

 

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

 

This estimate tells that sunlight will provide useful solar energy for about 4 to 6 hours per day because during the early hours and late hours of the day the angle of the sun’s light is too low.Therefore, let us assume for every square meter (1m²) exposed to continuous direct sunlight [in an optimal geographical location] for an average of 4.5 hours a day, we will have received 4.5 hours x 1000 watts = 4500 watthours (4.5kwh/m²) of solar energy during the course of a day. It would be great if 100% of the sunshine became electricity, but solar energy and electricity are not the same. Technology accomplishes the conversion of solar energy to electricity.

Revelers enjoy sun and water at Ghana's famous Labadi beach in Accra

Revelers enjoy sun and water at Ghana’s famous Labadi beach in Accra

Conversion of one form of energy to another always causes a loss of energy. In other words, the new form of energy will be less than the original. Efficiency is the word used to describe the difference in power resulting from the conversion of one form of energy to another. The efficiency of commercially available solar panels (PV) is now between 15% – 40.7%. This means that when a solar panel converts the sun’s light to electricity, only about 15 to 40.7 percent of the energy in the sunlight becomes electricity. The same thing is true of gasoline in your car and other thermal engines. Your car’s engine can only convert about 25 percent of the energy in gasoline to mechanical energy that turns the wheels.

With an average efficiency of 15 to 40.7 percent, every square meter (1m²) of solar photovoltaic cells (PV) would produce (4.5 kilowatthours of solar energy multiplied by 15% =) between 0.68 kilowatthours of electric energy per day.

Solar panels (PV) covering an area of 100m²(1 Plot of Land) would produce 100 x .68 = 68 kilowatthours of electricity per day. It is worth noting that 68kwh per day is a lot of electricity for a single family home.

 

Let’s juxtapose this arithmetic nationwide to the unused land surface:

– Size of Unreserved forest land in Ghana = 5 x 10³km² è 5 x 10⁹m².

– Assuming a Conversion Efficiency (Solar Panels) of 15%.

– Average Solar Irradiation 4.5kilowatthours (kwh) è 4500wh/day

– Annual average solar radiation = 4.5 x 365 è 1642.5kwh/m².y

– Assuming a Performance ratio, coefficient for losses of 0.75

So, 0.15 x 1642.5kwh/m².y x 5 x 10⁹m² x 0.75  è 923.9Gwh/y

in May 2015 #DumorMustStop campaign was spearheaded by Ghanaian actress Yvonne Nelson and was patronized by many other celebrities

in May 2015 #DumorMustStop campaign was spearheaded by Ghanaian actress Yvonne Nelson and was patronized by many other celebrities

Like in Germany where Solar energy powered 50% of its midday electricity needs on May 26, 2012, this amount of energy can be used for same in Ghana.It is interesting to note that this amount of energy has been calculated from an area of 5,000km² which is only 2% of the total surface area of Ghana.In 2004, Ghanaians consumed 5,158 gigawatthours (GWh) of electricity. NEDCO alone contributed 340GWh out of this figure. This contribution from NEDCO is only one third of my estimate of the calculated solar potential. It is estimated that about half of this amount is consumed by domestic (or residential) consumers for household uses such as lighting, ironing, refrigeration, air conditioning, television, radio and the like.

In conclusion, let me say that the improved technology surrounding solar power is very significant. It has brought clean energy within practical use. Given the significant environmental benefits, there is a very strong case for government intervention to accelerate the switch to solar power. The reluctance to switch to solar power is delaying our national progress in living standards.

Source: Maxmillian Kwarteng | Gramax Energy Group – GEG | [email protected]


 

Bill Gates once again shunned solar power from his vision for energy access in Africa in his talk at the University of Pretoria in South Africa on Sunday, where he argued that whilst “cheap, clean energy” is what Africa needs, solar does not fit the bill.

During the delivery of his Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture, the Microsoft founder and philanthropist identified that Africa, like the rest of the world, is in need of a “breakthrough energy miracle that provides cheap, clean energy for everyone.”

Africa is more dependent on such a phenomenon than other continents, because seven in ten Africans still lack power at present, while more than 500 million Africans still will not have electricity by 2040.

This is not the first time Gates has taken a less than welcoming stance to solar power. In February, during an interview with a news outlet, he echoed a similar thought. “When I say ‘an energy miracle’,” he said, “I mean that there will be some form of energy whose 24-hour cost really is competitive with hydrocarbons given, say, 20 years of learning curve.

“You invent it, then you look at how much its costs go down over the next 20 years, that it really beats hydrocarbons.

“You might say, well, aren’t people saying that about wind and solar today? Not really. Only in the super-narrow sense that the capital costs per output, when the wind is blowing, is slightly lower.”

In fact, Gates has been advocating anti-solar sentiment for a while. In 2014, he blogged about energy poverty, arguing for outdated fossil fuel solutions to tackle the electricity deficit in underdeveloped economies, characterising energy poverty as a climate issue.

Solar is ‘not enough’

In the speech on Sunday, the software entrepreneur recommended increased investment in renewables, namely hydropower and geothermal. He went on to argue that recently launched solar power initiatives have not been enough:

“There has been a lot of experimentation with small-scale renewable energy, including micro solar,” he said. “This approach can provide individuals with some electricity for basic purposes, but it’s not going to be the solution for the continent as a whole.”

PV Tech contacted the South African Photovoltaic Industry Association (SAPVIA), who vehemently disagreed with Gates’ sentiments.

“To downplay the role that solar photovoltaics (PV) can play as part of a unique African energy mix in the strive to alleviate Africa’s energy constraints would be irresponsible,” a spokesperson said, whilst citing data that should deem solar a ‘no brainer’ solution for Africa: “Africa has 7 of the 10 sunniest countries on earth and, according to IHS Technology, a US-based economic and energy market research company, Africa’s total solar power–generating capacity is projected to reach 3,380MW by 2017.”

bill-gates-quote

Solar deployment in Africa

In fact, solar power is undergoing rapid deployment and implementation as many countries across the continent are battling energy crises and look to alternatives to expensive fossil fuels such as diesel and coal. A series of feed-in tariffs and solar tenders have offered a foray into a solution that not only is clean and inexpensive, but is easily accessible.

In South Africa in particular, the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP) has successfully awarded 965MW of new solar capacity, which SAPVIA points out “is being delivered on time and on budget”.

“The rapidly escalating uptake of the technology in the rest of Africa can be clearly seen,” argued SAPVIA. “Expedited solar PV roll-out is being seen as supportive policies and regulations, such as the Get FIT Programme are developed and implemented. These policies and programmes, combined with the drop in the cost of PV technology (currently fully off-grid solar-PV technologiesdeployed at site can be deployed for as little as US$ 0.15/kWh and they do not require additional expensive transmission networks to move the electricity around), [we] see solar PV will make a significant impact on Africa and its energy challenges.

“One can expect – as has happened in South Africa – as the necessary supportive policies and regulations are scaled up, the rest of Africa will experience an increased uptake of solar PVtechnology. New renewable energy markets in Africa are already showing greater appeal to international and local investors – further spurring the uptake of solar PV in African markets.”


Salima Visram is the 23-year-old entrepreneur behind the Soular, a backpack company equipped with solar panels, which allow children who don’t have access to electricity in rural parts of Africa to study at night without having to use an expensive and carcinogenic kerosene lamp. Soular will be launching a new one-for-one model today, through the sale of trendy backpacks on HSN in collaboration with Disney, alongside their new movie, Queen of Katwe, which is set in rural Uganda, where the kerosene lamp is central to the plot of the story.

“I was inspired to launch Soular after seeing how some children in Kenya, where I grew up, were not able to study every day and get into secondary school, which perpetuated the vicious cycle of poverty,” Visram said.

these school children seem very excited about their solular backpacks

these school children seem very excited about their solular backpacks

Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o, who stars in Disney’s Queen of Katwe, is a supporter of Soular Backpack. Nyong’o and Disney went with the Soular team to Katwe in Uganda to distribute backpacks there in July.  Soular will also be showcased at the premiere of the movie in Hollywood later this September.

“On every Soular Backpack, there’s a quote from Lupita that reads, ‘The Power Is In Your Step,’” Visram said. watch the video here

Visram launched Soular by starting a crowdfunding campaign, which exceeded its goal by 25% raising $50,000. Soular has since distributed hundreds of backpacks across Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.

“So far, we’ve distributed backpacks to 500 children but we’ve realized that with one backpack in the family, on average 3 children are able to study with it,” Visram said.

Soular’s new one-for-one backpack

Soular’s new one-for-one backpack

Visram has big plans for Soular.

“The next phase of Soular would be to scale the one-for-one model across North America in a big way and make sure that everyone who needs a backpack is aware that they could buy a backpack that gifts light to a child in need,” Visram said. “We’re excited to position ourselves as a leading backpack company that stands to create social impact.”

Soul’s new one-for-one backpack is for sale on HSN for $49.95 in two colors, navy and white

Visram stays committed to making Soular a company that finds sustainable solutions to poverty.

Salima Visram, founder of Soular, with the new backpack for sale on HSN

Salima Visram, founder of Soular, with the new backpack for sale on HSN

“My vision for Soular is to make a holistic system of interventions and services that give people the tool to alleviate themselves from poverty,” Visram said. “We want to partner with a bank, so that the money saved on kerosene every month goes into a secondary education fund for the child. We want to set up micro-franchises in rural villages to sell lamps and batteries, in order to generate employment. We’ve just moved production to Kenya, which is creating more employment and impact within the region. Realizing how electricity is at the center of education, health and economic development is also something that inspired me to start it.”

 


100 MW Ghana Solar Farm Gets Funding

Home Energy Africa, which specializes in the development and sales of renewable energy products for businesses, governments, and residential homes in Africa, has obtained a $705,000 grant from the US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) for the development of a solar PV power generation project in Ghana.

Projected to begin construction in 2017, ESI Africa reports that this solar project will generate 100 MW of power, providing electricity to approximately 80,000 average homes in the country.

The agreement between the two countries was signed by Robert P. Jackson, the US Ambassador to Ghana, and Charles Sena Kwadzo Ayenu, CEO of Home Energy Africa.

“Lack of power is a challenge we see across sub-Saharan Africa. Two out of three people in this region lack access to electricity. That hinders business, and it hinders prosperity. We’ve made increasing access to power one of the top priorities for our bilateral relationship. Today’s grant is just one more way we’re bringing together government and the private sector to make Ghana’s future brighter,” said Jackson.

Boosting the Supply of Electricity

“One of Ghana’s paramount constraints to sustainable economic growth is the country’s inadequate electric power supply. This grant will support us in bringing our solar power PV project to financial close in order to fill the gap in power supply, meet Ghana’s goals for clean and sustainable energy, help create over 200 jobs to local communities and provide electricity to at least 80,000 average homes in Ghana,” said Mr. Ayenu.

Ayenu stated Ghana presently has 2,450 MW of installed capacity, adding: “The government of Ghana aspires to double that capacity to 5,000 MW this year, including 10% from renewable sources.”

The USTDA grant targets providing technical assistance to Home Energy Africa by using GreenMax Capital Advisors, an American firm, in finalizing the legal and financial details necessary to implement the project. Project assistance includes preparation for power purchase agreement negotiations with the Electricity Company of Ghana, services contracts, and financial arrangements.

Ayenu said the signing of the grant was the last barrier that the company has had to cross for work to begin on the project. He added that the firm has also acquired a 30% equity funding agreement for the $150 million project.

Originally published on Planetsave.