Gov’t looks to solar for achieving 100% electricity coverage by 2025 …as Central University goes green with solar installation

Government is looking at solar and other renewable energy options as it moves toward 100 percent nationwide electricity coverage by 2025, which is five years ahead of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) target of universal coverage by 2030.

With 85 percent of the nation covered by the national grid, the Ministry of Energy and its agencies – with private sector partnerships – are hoping to complete the remaining 15 percent with renewables; especially solar, which will also see government achieve its 10 percent renewable energy mix.

Seth Agbeve Mahu, Deputy Director in charge of Renewal Energy at the Energy Ministry, speaking to the B&FT at the unveilling of a 401 kWp PV solar system at Central University in the Greater-Accra Region, installed by solar company Yingli Namene West Africa, said government through the ministry is looking at solar and other renewables to meet the target.

“The timeline for the 100 percent nationwide coverage is 2025, and we want to achieve this ahead of the SDGs target of having universal access to electricity by 2030; and we believe we are on the right course to do so by 2025,” he said.

He explained that the ministry is working to cover all ministries, departments and agencies (MMDAs) with solar energy. “The rationale for doing this is to increase the contribution of renewable energy in the national energy mix; and secondly to help reduce the burden of government in looking for money to pay electricity bills for these MMDAs.

“We at the Ministry of Energy about 20-40 percent of our electricity consumption is met by solar energy. We have installed 110kw of solar PV stems. The president recently announced that Jubilee House will go solar, and construction is about to begin. This is to show that government is walking the talk. These are the things we are doing to complement what the private sector is doing. Our goal is to reach 10 percent of total electricity,” he added.

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Off-grid market

Mr. Mahu explained that government is working to ensure it promote the off-grid industry. With more than 2,000 communities along the banks of the Volta Lake and about 200 islands in the lake with inhabitants, the only option to getting them electricity is installing mini off-grid systems.

“We have rolled out this programme. We have already energised five of such communities with mini-grids and we are scaling-up this programme. We have what we call the Climate Investment Fund-funded Scaling Up Renewable Energy Programme (SREP). The SREP is looking at deploying 55 units of such mini-grids to provide power for 30,000 people.

“We also have, under the same programme, a component that will provide solar for small homes (stand-alone installations). We just put solar panels on homes and they have power. That is targetted at 33,000 units to be deployed. We are also doing a full feasibility study with funding support from the United States Trade Agency (USTDA) to be able to connect about 50 communities in the Afram Plains area. These are all efforts to move from the current rate of 85 percent electricity coverage to 100 percent, whereby everybody in this country will be connected,” he said.

Central University goes solar

He added that government has created the environment for the private sector to work in this market, and anytime there is a project like the Central University going solar government is happy to partner.

“One of the advantages of this is that we are able to get first-hand installation information, which helps us be able to analyse market trends and see if, indeed, government is delivering in accordance to its mandate under the renewable energy act. This is laudable. It allows the university to make a lot of savings and enhances its carbon footprint, and makes it truly a green university,” he added.

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Firmin Nkamleu Ngassam, Managing Director of Yingli Namene West Africa, noted that together with its financial partners, including Ecoligo, the company aims to help businesses and other institutions find stable and low-cost power as credible additional and alternative sources to their primary energy needs.

“Today, the Central University – a foremost private university in Ghana, is the next to benefit from our unique service delivery. We have built for them a PV solar system that is 401kWp,” he added.

The facility is a split and installed on two sites; site one and two. The site-one is divided into A and B, with 1A connecting to the Academics bus-bar, while site 1B connects to the Administration bus-bar. Site-two on the other hand connects to the hostels & food court bus-bar, making it possible for students to utilise energy from solar in their apartments.

He expressed his excitement that Central University has extended its foresight into the supply of energy to meet its needs.

“This is a step in the right direction, one that will reduce costs and allow for increased investments in infrastructure to accommodate more students, reduce carbon dioxide emissions and make the campus more-friendly for students and staff alike; and signal to the academic community in Ghana that living the talk is more than teaching it.

“For the education sector, there is an urgent need to cut costs as much as is possible. This is needed to help bring school fees down for our wards to benefit, and we see solar as one of the cost-saving mechanisms that institutions in the knowledge-sharing and impacting space must look to with agility and excitement,” he said.

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