The country needs to effectively exploit all available resources to ensure that the power sector is sustainable and efficient, panellists at the third and final day of the 2021 Ghana Economic Forum (GEF) have said.
They said all elements of the power generation mix, including thermal and renewable resources such as hydro, solar and wind among others, must be holistically looked at to bring balance, cost-efficiency and sustainability to the sector, given its importance to the country’s development.
The panel included Emmanuel Darkwa Osafo, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Engineering and Operations-Volta River Authority; Ishmael Edjekumhene, Executive Director-KITE; Nii Darko Asante, an independent energy consultant; and Wisdom Ahiataku Togobo, Director, Renewable Energy-Bui Power Authority, who spoke on the topic ‘Optimising Ghana’s electricity supply mix and its impact on cost of Power’.
Currently, power generation in the country comes mainly from hydro and thermal sources, with renewable energy accounting for just 2.4 percent of generation.
Issues like high tariffs, huge transmission and distribution losses and weak revenue mobilisation, remain some of the major factors threatening long-term sustainability of the sector. Meanwhile, national efforts at transitioning to cleaner energy sources, in line with global trends and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, have often been described as inadequate and behind time by market watchers.
The panel of experts however believe a complete harmonisation of all the country’s power sources is crucial to the sector’s sustainability, government’s industrialisation drive and security.
“The first step is to ensure that we have the least-cost power to sell,” Darkwa Osafo said in response to a question on how to ensure an efficient and sustainable power sector – adding that, “We need to harness the various resources we have, and out of this we can then determine which of them incurs the least cost. So, we have to solve that issue.”
The other bit, he explained, has to do with efficiency: “We have to continuously invest in our systems, both transmission and distribution, so that at the end of the day if we generate 100MW we can get close to 100MW at the other end. If the system is such that it is old and we generate 100MW but get 70MW, then somebody will have to pay for it.
“The final part is how to improve the efficiency of our utilities so we can have a system that is reliable and efficient.
“It is important to utilise all the resources that we have so we are able to produce electricity at the least cost and in the most environmentally-friendly manner. This is the only way we can create a win-win situation. So, we should be interested not just in getting the power, but also how the power is produced,” Mr. Edjekumhene corroborated.
Away from effectively harnessing all available resources to make the sector efficient and sustainable, the panel also agreed that consumers and power companies have a role to play in securing the industry’s future.
They said a shared responsibility approach – whereby consumers are willing to pay the right price for electricity and ready to report issues of power-theft, while power generation, utility and distribution companies on other hand ensure that they are efficient in their operations to reduce losses – is equally crucial to the sector’s long-term sustainability.