Stepping up solar energy is ‘sine qua non’

There is very little doubt that Ghana, based on its positioning near the equator, is endowed with abundant solar resources. That is why it is particularly unfortunate that as a country we have not been able to exploit solar potentials to meet our growing energy needs – even as hydroelectric power generation is being affected by climate change and its adverse consequences.

President Akufo-Addo addressed the maiden conference of the International Solar Alliance (ISA) in New Delhi, India, over the weekend – pledging to provide about two million solar lanterns to replace the kerosene lanterns commonly used in rural Ghana.

The president even gave a breakdown of the country’s energy generation’s current structure, and indicated that while 59 percent comprises fossil fuels, 40 percent is hydro-generated – leaving a measly one percent for solar, which gives a true indication of how little the country has been able to utilise this abundant renewable energy resource.

Thankfully, the president pledged to increase solar utilisation from the current 22.5 megawatts to 250 megawatts within a period of not less than 12 years. It was therefore pleasing to hear the president announce that his government is keen on developing utility-scale solar projects, as well as accelerating the development of mini-grid solutions in off-grid and island communities.

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In order to give true meaning to his words, President Akufo-Addo announced a strategy for achieving this objective – and that is to build the relevant domestic capacity in the manufacture and assembling of solar systems and accessories.

Our president is co-chair of the Group of Eminent Advocates of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and as such must be seen as championing the cause of sustainable development since SDG 13 enjoins all to combat climate change.

That notwithstanding, it is only prudent to start employing alternatives to fossil fuels which have met man’s fuel needs since times of old as more sustainable methods, since the emission of greenhouse gases is the main culprit of climate change.

Fossil fuels are limited and are non-renewable, so it is likely that fuel expenses will face a hike in the near future and there is need to plan accordingly. It is therefore not a choice anymore, but a need that needs to be fulfilled if indeed Ghana is to develop sustainably.

We believe the conference is very relevant since it brought together 24 countries within the tropical zone which accede to ISA’s framework, since it provided a platform for solar-rich countries to discuss ways of further developing solar energy.

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