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General News of Wednesday, 28 March 2007

Source: Daily Graphic

Akosombo Dam To Be Shut Down?

....One More Unit already shut down
The Volta River Authority in consultation with the government has decided to reduce the units which the Akosombo Dam operates to generate power from three to two to save the dam from total collapse.

The Chief Executive Officer of the VRA, Joshua Ofedie told journalists in Accra on Tuesday, 27 March, 2007 that the move been necessitated by the fact that the country risked a “total shut down” of its major electric producing plant, the Akosombo Hydro-Electric Dam by the end of April if power was distributed at the current operational level.

At a press conference organised jointly by the VRA and the Electricity Company of Ghana, Mr Ofedie described the situation as serious and indicated that to avoid a total shut down of the dam, a new load management programme announced by the two companies on Saturday would begin today.

The new schedule reduces the amount of time which customer groups can enjoy electricity from a 12 hour period of black out once in five days to a 12 hour period of black out once during the night and another 12 hour black out period once during the day every four days.

Mr Ofedie said the immediate concern of the VRA and the ECG was to ensure that “the little water we have is stretched through to the end of June when we expect the major rainy season in the Volta reservoir’s catchment area to commence”.

Presently, the dam is working continuously with three and sometimes four of the six units, which are all operational condition and was able to generate just enough to support the previous load shedding management programme of a 12- hour black out period for 5 days.

While stressing the need for the new regime, which he said was also for “system stability and frequency control purposes”, he assured Ghanaians that the situation would be reviewed every two weeks.

On the level of the water in the dam, Mr Ofedie said the initial load management programme began in August last year as a result of the “delayed and below average inflows into the Volta reservoir” and had the objective of avoiding a drafting of the total shut down before the rains in 2006.

That was able to improve the situation, he said, adding that as of the end of the rainy season in November 2006, the level in the reservoir peaked at 246 feet, 30 feet below the maximum operating level of 276 feet and only six feet above the minimum level of 240 feet.

He said because of the poor rains and subsequent low level of water in the Volta reservoir, the generation of hydro power available in the year had been severely limited.

He put the deficit energy demand at 3,541 gigawatts per hour (GWh) for the year, explaining, “Infact, the total demand on the system in 2007 is about 10.152 GWh and the total available hydro generation is only 3,370 GWh. An additional 3,241 could be generated from the Takoradi Thermal Plant located at the Aboadze thermal complex.

In an overview of the results of interventions so far, Mr Ofedie announced that the expected supply from Cote d'Ivore of 200 MW of power could not be met, as an Ivorian delegation came to Accra in March to inform the Minister of Energy and the VRA of "techincal difficulties" which made that country unable to supply energy to Ghana."

The technical difficulties included critical maintainance work on thermal plants, the low levels of Cote d'Ivore's hydro plants which had reduced supply to support the system and the decreased availability of natural gas which had reduced further its thermal production output.

On short tern measures to correct the crisis, Mr Ofedie said there was the need for the country to build up an “adequate thermal complementation” of the hydro-electric plant which currently supplied 60 per cent of the country’s electric power needs.

To that end, he repeated the government’s initiatives in the acquisition of thermal plants, efforts by mining companies to develop an 80 MW thermal plant in Tema with the VRA and the building of a 126 MW crude oil fired thermal plant also in Tema to be completed by the end of August 2007.

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