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Business News of Monday, 12 November 2012

Source: thebftonline

Israel in talks with gov’t to adopt solar power

Some Israeli companies are lobbying government to adopt renewable energy, as a way to diversify the country’s energy mix and also reduce the reliance on hydro power in the provision of power.

The companies, which are acting through the Israeli government, are knocking on the door of government at a time when the Volta River Authority (VRA) has a renewable energy policy plan to make renewable energy 10 percent of the country’s energy portfolio within the next eight years.

The Deputy Chief of Mission of the Israeli Embassy, Eyal Lampert said the Embassy has invited the head of Eilat-Eilot Renewable Energy Initiative, which brings together renewable energy producers in Israel, to the country to collaborate and explore the huge potential in the renewable energy sector to benefit the country, saying: “Our knowledge and technologies could be relevant to Ghana.”

The Founder of Eilat-Eilot Renewable Energy Initiative, Ms. Davidovich-Banet, explained in an interview with the B&FT in Accra that it has become necessary to attempt to influence policy decisions in the face of the country’s over-reliance on thermal and hydro for energy supply.

“We are doing a lot of lobbying because it is not easy for the government to decide and think differently. The government often sees turbines. They don’t see renewable energy, and it is very hard for them to understand how to distribute the renewable energy sources,” she said.

Ms. Davidovich-Banet said renewable energy generation can be expensive, but explained that in the long-term it is cheaper and cleaner than other sources of energy like thermal and hydro.

She noted that though Photovoltaic (PV) solar systems can generate the country’s energy needs, the best-fit solution to improve the country’s energy supply situation is the hybrid and off-grid solar systems that can be linked to rural communities.

“The government has to understand what is cheap and economical for them. They have to invest a lot of time in innovation and new technologies.

“I understand that the cost of electricity production and transmission in Ghana is about 15 cents per unit. With this, you can do renewable energy by PV by grid-parity without feed-in tariffs,” she said.

Last year, government passed the renewable energy bill into law -- which introduces a feed-in-tariff into the power sector in a move to incentivise investors to go into renewable energy supply.

The feed-in tariffs oblige electricity companies to pay people an amount yet to be determined for the power they produce at home from renewable energy sources, such as solar or wind, and a further payment will be given for any electricity fed into the grid. This is expected to spur the usage of renewable energy, especially solar PV roofs, at an enormous cost to the government.