Africa is considered and referred to as the “Sun continent.” According to the World Sunshine Map, Africa receives many more hours of bright sunshine and heat during the course of the year than any other continent of the Earth; many of the sunniest places on the planet lie here. Despite Africa’s large solar potential, the number of people who have access to electricity is still very low.
In Ghana, about 20percent of the population is still not connected to the national grid; with solar energy capacity making up a little over 0.03percent, which is mostly found in private homes, the country is still considered dark with relatively high electricity costs.
The current state of our energy sector requires revision and swift action to curb the energy crisis in the country. But to do this, it is prudent for stakeholders and industry players to employ new thinking juxtaposed with new technologies. The traditional approach of simply expanding national grids to connect the last mile is too expensive and will take too much time and will do little to solve the problem, which is projected to compound as the population grows.
An encouraging trend is the emergence of solar energy as a viable option to provide electricity to even the most far-flung areas. The first is the installation of independent rooftop solar panels in homes and business premises and the possibleintegration of mini-grids with backup systems are the approaches currently available.
SunPower Innovations Ltd is an indigenous solar energy company that installs reliable, efficient and affordable solar power systems for residential and commercial businesses across the country.
The Founder and CEO, Ernest E. Amissah, believes that Ghana’s energy crisis can be solved if solar systems are firmly adopted by the government by ensuring that policies concerning grid tied solutions (net metering) with the Electricity Corporation of Ghana (ECG), the biggest distributor of energy in the country, work in the interest of varied solar energy off takers.
He further stated that if nothing is done about the port charges on Photovoltaic balance of systems (BOS) the capital expenditure for solar systems would increasingly rise even though it is falling very fast in developed markets.
As a fast growing EPC in the energy industry in Ghana and Nigeria, SunPower Innovations’ effort to install Tier 1 panels and balance of systems to the highest engineering standards has brought it credible off takers like Aqua Safari Resort, Alisa Swiss Spirit Hotel, Total Ghana, CalBank, Special Ice and Local Government Secretariat Service.
Despite the resistance to change and new technologies and fairly high cost of installation of solar energy, the 25 years life span of panels and inverters and the long-term economic benefits of shedding off about 30-80percent of a customer’s electricity bill, is incomparable.
The resistance to change and new technologies, the cost of installation and maintenance are but a few of the reasons why many are yet to embrace solar systems. However, statistically speaking, in the long run, solar is relatively cheaper, safer and economically viable as a developing nation.
Therefore the benefits of solar should motivate Ghanaians, especially the government to embrace the emergence of solar energy and make it an integral component of every domestic andcommercial project. Ultimately, the emission free advantage of solar is vital than all the economic factors discussed because the effects of green house gases is more dire than discussed in Ghana.