Solar street lights will save economy US$46million annually
Energy shortage is perhaps the biggest threat to Ghana’s economic growth. For the year 2016, the total electricity requirement of the country was projected as 18,185-18,737 GWh, with VALCO, the country’s aluminium smelter, operating at most two potlines, to raise economic growth to over 4.5 percent.
The corresponding total peak demand (excluding suppressed demand) and total transmission system peak would be between 2,500-2,736 MW.
According to experts, over 30 percent of all energy used by cities is used in street lighting. Street Lighting has become one of the key necessities of our daily life activities, especially at night. However, it is one of the vampires in our energy use. Rising energy needs obliges investment in sustainable and clean energy production and use.
Due to the high demand on the national grid there is the need to diversify the country’s energy system and supply. Such diversification would require energy efficient technologies and sources of energy that are independent of the national grid, such as solar power.
Ghana has a rising trend in street lights energy consumption. A consumption that has risen from 108 GWh in 2006 to 534 GWh in 2015.
Table 1: Electricity Consumption by Customer Class (GWh)
Figure A: Electricity Consumption by Customer Class
With per kWh tariff of 8.67US Cents, the energy consumption by the traditional street lights amounts to $46,297,000.00 USD annually.
Converting all existing traditional street lights into solar street light will mean that Ghana will save 534 GWh (6.17percent) of our energy and 46M USD annually.
Table 2 – Tariff Regime
PURC Approved Rates (GHp/kWh)
PURC Approved Rates (US Cents/kWh)
Globally, traditional street lighting consumes about 159 TWh of electricity annually. A reduction of consumption by 50 percent would eliminate around 80 TWH of electricity consumption and avoid around 40 MtCO2 per year.
Yearly Consumption Cost of A Single Street Light Pole
Hours of Usage (hrs)
Wattage of Bulb (W)
Rate per kWh (USD)
Consumption per day (kWh)
Consumption per year (kWh)
Cost per day (USD)
Cost per year (USD)
Depending on the size of the city or the region’s services, the share of street lights on our electricity bills can vary between 5 percent to up to 60 percent.
It is for this reason that the need to adopt the use of solar energy to power streetlights remains an attractive venture.
Using solar for Public Street lighting creates the opportunities to reduce grid energy demand, possible financial savings from reduced electricity use and reduce related GHG emissions. Other benefits for the Government include Energy conservation and efficiency (i.e., reducing operation hours, the number of lights and power).
The possibility of harnessing the solar radiation to power streetlight is very viable since most part of Ghana receive sunshine throughout the year.
Installation of traditional lighting, which means tying your light fixtures to an electrical grid system, requires trenching and underground wiring. The process is lengthy, costly and inconvenient. Then, you costs associated with underground wiring, on-site transformers and electrical enclosures which are often greater than newly installed solar lights.
Additionally, if your project is in environmentally sensitive areas like wetlands, along a seashore, or in sensitive ecosystems, solar lights minimize the impact on nature by avoiding below-grade services and unsightly enclosures.
With commercial solar lighting systems, projects are self-contained and shovel ready. It typically takes only four to six weeks from initial inquiry to installation.
Regardless of whether you are installing new solar lighting or converting traditional to solar, you eliminate ongoing payments for electricity and you never have to worry about dumsor.
Maxmillian Kwarteng BSc, M.B.A., MIAENG
Energy and Environmental Manager