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


“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]