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Business News of Thursday, 24 October 2013

Source: Graphic.com.gh

Investors welcome utility tariff increases

Though Ghanaians may be worried about hikes in utility prices, that exactly represents a golden opportunity for investors who are eyeing the power generation sub-sector. Renewable energy companies and investors in Germany and parts of Europe have welcomed the increment and the setting of feed-in tariffs by the Ministry of Energy that will help attract independent power producers.

“Feed-in tariffs are in and electricity prices are going up. This is good for investors because they can cover their costs,” the Delegate of German Industry and Commerce (AHK), Mr Patrick Martens, told the Daily Graphic in an interview.

Speaking ahead of the second West African Clean Energy and Environment Exhibition and Conference 2013 (WACEE’13) slated for November 12-14, 2013, Mr Martens said both conditions had made it conducive for private businesses such as hotels, industries and mining companies to invest in renewable energy and divert excess power to the national grid.

Some firms from Germany and Europe have been readying themselves to tap into the potential in the renewable energy sector since the Renewable Energy Act, 2011 (Act 832) was passed.

Renewable energy

The act, among other things, promotes a policy by the Energy ministry to achieve 10 per cent energy generation mix from renewable sources by 2020, a provision that has attracted the attention and interest of companies with expertise and investment appetite in renewables.

“Energiebau, a German company, has already set up an office in Ghana and made investments in readiness to start business. We hope such companies will have the return on investment, with the tariff increases and feed-in tariffs,” the delegate of the German Chamber of Industry and Commerce said.

HPW Fresh and Dry, a fruit-processing company, generates 60 per cent of its energy needs from renewable sources. It has installed solar panels in addition to a modest energy plant that won it the innovative company award at the Ghana Club 100.

The feed-in tariffs are very crucial for companies such as HPW which can easily scale up its renewable energy production and divert the excess into the national grid.

WACEE, AHK-Ghana’s flagship event, has quickly become an international event on the calendar of many companies from Europe since its launch last year, especially because it is the only such event in West Africa.

“The responses have been quite fine, although we had a few challenges,” Mr Martens said.

European corporate giants such as Energiebau and PricewaterhouseCoopers are the platinum and silver sponsors of West Africa’s big event.

Other sponsors include institutions such as KfW, DEG and MBG.

The conferences on the themes; “Ghanaian-German Renewables Business Forum: Setting the ground for sustainable energy development” and “Achieving more with less: Resource and energy efficiency for public and private sectors,” are being run alongside the exhibition at the Accra International Conference Centre.

The German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology Technical and the State Ministry for Federal Affairs, Europe and the Media of North Rhine Westphalia are sponsoring this year’s conferences, in collaboration with GIZ.

The two conferences, to run for three days, will centre on renewable energy, resource efficiency and waste management. It will draw speakers from government, ministries and agencies, academia, as well as international experts.

A total of 45 companies have already registered to exhibit their products and services at WACEE’13, with a large percentage of exhibitors coming for the first time.

The German State North Rhine Westphalia (NRW), the industrial heart of Germany, is sending a high-powered delegation, including eight companies, the delegate of German Industry and Commerce said.

Mr Martens disclosed that over 800 professional visitors are expected at the conferences, with visitors coming from across West Africa.