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!


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


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.


The conversation was getting heated and it ended with the statement “Diesel Generators are cheaper than the Electricity Company of Ghana (E.C.G) and some businesses in Ghana run on generator power even when the grid is available”……………………..

This was what I learnt from a conversation I had in 2014 with an associate of mine who ran a medical practice in East Legon at the time.I was actually doubtful of his claims because of his political affiliation and therefore brushed these claims aside.

Whilst Ghana appears to have recovered, somewhat, from the power crisis, many businesses are, ironically, turning to generators which they find to be cheaper than the national grid. Fast forward to 2017 ,whilst running several power audits across Ghana ,I  come across several businesses who run on diesel generator power 2-3 times weekly as a cost cutting strategy for electricity. Some of these business claim to be able to save up to 25% on power costs by this strategy alone.

With Ghana’s prepaid metering system, it’s easy to compare how much is spent on either generators or the national grid on weekly or even daily basis .The bare facts are that  that solar  has gotten cheaper today than it was years ago and with an average 5.5 hours of effective sunshine daily in Ghana, businesses  should seriously consider quality Grid-tied solar power systems such as Fronius .With these solar power systems you don’t need to even worry about rising utility tariffs  or fuel prices.

Most Ghana based business shy away from Solar power because of the perceived high initial costs. Grid-tied solar often has fewer upfront costs than an off-grid system. For one, it can cost less to install a grid-tied system because it does not require batteries, as off-grid does. For another, it’s more flexible, as you don’t necessarily have to install the number of panels you will need to produce all your energy needs right away. people choose grid-tied solar power  systems when they know they could only afford a certain number of panels at a given time, so their goal is to lower their electricity bills—but not eliminate them entirely just yet.

A fully installed 20Kw Fronius Grid-tied solar inverter in Accra-Ghana

Over time, you can always add more panels as you find the financial resources to do so.This solar power option is excellent  for  commercial operations that have a high power demand during daytime hours.Up to 65% percent of power demand for most offices in Ghana is for air-conditioning /cooling due to high daytime temperatures  and humidity.  Our research indicates that grid tied solar can be at least 45% cheaper than off grid solar power systems and you can save Ghc 24,000 per annum by the deployment of just 10kwp.We are able to calculate the savings because of the inbuilt monitoring systems in these intelligent devices built by Fronius BV of Austria.

Nocheski Solar is dedicated to using products  that have a strong, unrivalled reputation for technical innovation, reliability, and build quality. Our products are widely considered to be the professional choice for independent electric power.You may call +233244270092  email for further information


Punjo is not Puna : Not All Solar Panels Are Equal

Nii koi’s wife was pregnant with their third child, and as usual her food cravings seemed to change by the hour. This morning she wanted Pona yams with smoked fish light soup. Being a great husband Nii Koi dashes  to the nearby  grocery down the road  and ends up being sold Punjo yams ,a lower priced ,larger variety of yam. Most Ghanaians prefer the higher sugar content and finer texture in Pona yams even though they can be quite pricey especially when yams are not in season. Thinking he had found a great deal Nii Koi proceeded to complete his assignment.

His wife was very furious, I will not eat this yam

“All yam be yam he exclaimed” and she hissed back, Punjo is not Pona

To cut a long story short his wife refused to eat the Punjo yams and insisted that he get Pona yams to satisfy her cravings

Jinko Solar panels are durable and efficient

Selling Solar in a harsh economic climate like Ghana can be quite challenging ,it’s not unusual for prospective customers to ask questions such as  “why your solar panels cost Ghc X when so and so in the market is selling it for so much less at Ghc. Y.”

The simple answer is – Not All Solar Panels Are Equal.

Punjo is not Puna : Not All Solar Panels Are Equal

So when you compare prices for solar panels (and we do encourage you to shop around), you do need to pay attention to 2 key aspects of the panel’s quality – GRADE and MANUFACTURER TIER.

GRADE refers to the quality of solar cell used in the solar panel, and are categorized as A, B, C, or D. Grade A cells are the highest quality, in that they are tested against highest quality criteria to ensure there are no micro-cracks in the solar cell, and all the cells are of the same type. The quality diminishes for grade B, which may have micro cracks and not all cells are of the same type (they sometimes mix and match). Grades C and D are much worse quality with larger cracks and chips, and the cell mismatch is even worse.A typical solar cell will be exposed to sunlight throughout its lifetime. Sunlight contains harmful ultraviolet (UV) light that deteriorates all materials, including solar cells. The tiny flaws in the material become worse after prolonged exposure to sunlight, and its power output reduces over time.As a grade A cell has the least flaws to start with, its deterioration will be the slowest.

MANUFACTURER TIER refers to how automated a manufacturer is in its manufacturing process, its manufacturing volume, how long it has been in the industry, and how much it invests in R&D. There are 3 tiers to classify this:

certified engineers installing Jinko Panels in the heart of Ghana capital city,Accra

Tier 1 manufacturers are the top 2% of solar manufacturers, normally producing over 1 GW of solar panels in a year. They are vertically integrated meaning they make their own cells and wafers. They invest heavily in R&D, and have advanced robotic processes for manufacturing. They have been manufacturing panels for longer than 5 years. Tier 2 manufacturers are small to medium scale manufacturers, with little or no investment in R&D. They only use partial robotics in their manufacturing process, and rely more on manual work from human production lines. They have been producing panels for 2 to 5 years. Tier 3 manufacturers are actually just Assemblers – i.e. they assemble other manufacturer’s cells into a panel. This is 90% of the new solar PV companies, with no investment in R&D, and they use human production lines for manual soldering of solar cells instead of advanced robotics. They have been assembling panels for 1-2 years. You get best (and consistent) results from Grade A panels manufactured by a Tier 1 manufacturer. They may cost a little more on a per-watt basis, but when you consider the energy output and the longevity of their panels, you actually get more energy out of Tier 1 / Grade A panels than anyone else. And ultimately, you have to ask yourself what matters to you more — the total number of watts of a solar panel, or the actual kWh (units) of energy produced by the panel?

That’s why we at Nocheski Solar use Grade A solar panels from Tier 1 manufacturers like Jinko Solar, which ensures the best overall value in terms overall electricity output and long-term high quality.Hope this helps you when you compare solar panel prices.Let us know your feedback.All that being said, its  prudent to watch out for unscrupulous industry players  who may be selling counterfeited solar products but that is another whole discussion for another day.

Punjo is not Puna : Not All Solar Panels Are Equal

 

 

 


Should i wait for solar prices to improve in Ghana? As the cost per Kw/h of energy from Electricity company of Ghana (E.C.G) continues to rise each year, many Ghanaians are seeking long-term alternatives to reduce their energy bills. Solar energy is a great alternative to drawing power from the electric grid, and saves homeowners substantially in the long run while also benefiting the environment.solar power prices improve Ghana electricity?

Considering low income levels in Ghana , the question that often comes up is can I afford it ? Should I wait ? That is what most people ask themselves when thinking about whether or not they should switch to solar. But the real question they should be asking themselves is: how soon do I want to start saving money?

A Victron 5kva-2.5kwp solar inverter power system installed by Nocheski solar in Accra-Ghana

Installing solar power on your home is one step further into the renewable energy direction and also one step closer to keeping your wallet full. But is current solar technology good enough to use now or should you wait until newer technology comes out? We’ll answer your question with a more important one: why wait? Why the hesitation when solar can be saving you money right now?

There will always be newer technology and newer versions of everything, from computers to fridges, so you may be hesitant to jump in. But why deny yourself the benefits you can get now by making the switch to solar power? Especially when the technology we already have today will save you money now and in the future. Simply put, you can’t start saving the money that comes from switching to solar until you start using solar technology.

Did you pass on purchasing your smartphone because you knew there would be an even better one next season?  Probably not, because you wanted to use that technology now. Same goes for solar power; and you’ll be saving money, which is something we can all say yes to.The first step is to look for a professional solar power installer in Ghana.

It’s worth it to look into it – especially when all it takes is a quick phone call

Contact our Victron Energy product specialist at Nocheski solar   for exciting deals for staff of reputable organizations in Ghana on 0244 270 092 or 0303 211 743

 


Working with the charity Assolidafrica 07, a group of teachers and students from the French High School Iscles Manosque have been to install lighting and electricity; computers and a photocopier, in two remote schools in Burkina Faso.

Burkina Faso is a landlocked African country just north of the equator whose 17 million people are spread out over 100,000 square miles, and whose official language is French. The two remote schools to benefit from this equipment were College de Boulma and College de Kapon (440 students) – separated by an hour’s drive through the bush by car.

 

Being so remote, on arriving the French students confessed that their first thought was ‘What are we doing here? Is this really a school – where donkeys wander in and out, laundry hangs out to dry right there in the grounds, and villagers are pumping water from a well?’ Assolidafrica 07 have been slowly building the schools for five years whilst lessons to classes of up to 100 pupils proceed.

In a project they named ‘Solaire et Solidaire’, as part of their own education the French students, guided by tutors, designed the off-grid Photovoltaic power supply and lighting/electrical systems they would install. Victron provided training and some of the equipment, and the students approached industry themselves for sponsorship …experience which will be invaluable to them later in their own lives.

The project included the installation of high-quality suspended lighting systems, very professionally wired in trunking; fabrication of roof-top mounting system for the Solar Panels; and the technical installation of PV panels cabled to Charge Controllers, Inverters and the Consumer unit (distribution panel/fuse board).

One of the volunteers, Thomas Tsamen commented: We didn’t have all the tools we needed so we figured it out with the means we did have.’ A point which illustrates the double-benefit of this volunteer program; the volunteers learn as they build projects which provide so much benefit for the African Schools. And as for team-building, working outside handling tools and equipment which the sun has heated to 60 degrees has it’s own challenges! They’re harsh conditions in which students and teachers alike quickly learn that diplomacy is the key to the continuance of smooth relations!

Alan Morel and Jean Paul Nabaloum

In traditional African society the Tribal Chiefs are guarantors of customs and habits. They’re the ones who regulate society and decide all matters relating to development and problem-resolution. The chief of Kapon – dressed in the robes of his office – said ‘Studying is what’s going to save us. If we stay ignorant, there is no development …I’m so glad to receive these panels and this equipment which will light our classrooms and help our education.’

The lighting now installed allows the schools to extend their curriculum into the evening. Speaking at the Completion of the work tutor Rasmané Ouedraogo said: ‘I’m speechless really. Students will have light and electricity to study for their diploma. And with the computer equipment we are making a giant step.’ In Burkina Faso, where a Broadband subscription costs more than the average annual salary, fewer than 5% of the population have access to the internet.

The President of the Parents and Teacher association makes the point that the installation takes a big worry away from parents – about how they would afford an electricity supply.

And the principal of the French High School Iscles Manosque, Cyrille Seguin, acknowledging the commitment of both teachers and students who ‘dared’ to bring the project to his attention …and then carry it out, said of his students: They will carry the richness of this experience with them all their lives.

Boulma middle school supervisor Mr. Kabore

Source:victron energy


Pure solar water: Generating Clean Drinking Water from Air

The leapfrog in solar panels technology addresses the global issue of water supply by providing clean, drinkable water. Think about it, we are all surrounded by air, a form of vapour, water’s gaseous, evaporated state. A new form of solar atmospheric water generators attempts to harness the power of the sun and create clean, drinkable water from the air.

The new type of solar panel could turn moisture in the air to clean drinking water and would be a big boon to families in cities like Guayaquil, Ecuador where there are no city pipes. It could save time for the women in sub-Saharan African who spend an estimated 40 billion hours a year collecting water. The clean water generated could eliminate water-borne diseases.

The new solar panels, which are not for retail sale yet, can be installed at home or office. The panels are said to be self-contained and work on a special membrane which can absorb the water molecules. The water is then treated with minerals to add fresh taste and then stored in on-board reservoirs.

What is the underlying premise of creating clean water? The material which is created reportedly can absorb water from the air. What would happen if you leave a bowl of salt open? It would become clumpy due to the moisture. The solar panel works on the same premise, where the water is evaporated to purify it, and further remove pollutants.

The solar panel technology would cost around $2,900, with no installation costs, and produce around ten small water bottles daily, and is expected to last for around ten years. A single panel could reportedly provide cooking water for a family of four inclusive of hospitals or businesses, which can be scaled up with the use of multiple panels.

When are we getting this new technology in Ghana? We dont know for now

 

Source: SolarPower.com Editorial Team


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.