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General News of Thursday, 28 May 2015

Source: The Chronicle

Pay 10% and own energy at home - Jinapor

The Deputy Minister for Power, John Abu Jinapor, has disclosed that his ministry, in close collaboration with the Energy Commission, is designing a package for Ghanaians to own solar panels in their homes and reduce the pressure on the national electricity grid.

Under the package, he said, the Commission will put together all the equipment needed to produce solar energy at home, and ask consumers to pay only 10% of the cost and spread the rest for an agreed period of time.

Independent checks conducted by The Chronicle reveal that it cost between GH¢5,000 and 6,000 to acquire the solar panels and battery to produce energy at home in Ghana. This is, however, above the means of most Ghanaians.

Speaking on Good Morning Ghana on Metro TV yesterday, Jinapor said the Energy Commission was introducing the package so that the every Ghanaian could afford to own his or her own solar panels, which could be used to power bulbs, fans and others without depending on the national electricity grid. The solar panels, once installed, could be used for a number of years, thereby saving money that would have gone into the payment of electricity bills.

The Deputy Minister also revealed that the Asogli Power plant at Kpone in the Greater Accra Region, upon the completion of expansion works, which is currently ongoing, would be powered by coal instead of gas, because the former is cost effective. He noted that Ghana has almost exhausted all her hydro power potentials, which is very cheap when compared with others. According to him, it is based on this that the country had now resorted to the use of crude and natural gas, but they are also expensive.

To Jinapor, the government could construct more plants that depend on either crude or gas and pass on the cost to the consumer, but however, asked, “How long can we keep on passing this cost to the consumer?” According to him, though coal powered plants also has its merits and demerits, it is time for the government to introduce it into the energy mix.

Dr. Mathew Opoku Prempeh, Member of Parliament for Manhyia, who was on the panel, advised the government to also incorporate bio gas, which is energy generated from human waste and dung. Napo, as he is popularly known, said there were so many avenues that could be used to deal with the energy situation, and that the government must first take the steps for the people to also follow.

Ghana has, for the past three years, been plunged into a serious energy crisis due to a shortfall in energy generation. The Akosombo Dam, which contributes over 1,000 megawatts to the country’s installed capacity of 2,850, is currently running on three turbines instead of the usual six.

The Volta River Authority (VRA) has attributed the development to the low level of water in the Volta Reservoir.

The Bui Dam in the Brong Ahafo Region, which also has the capacity to produce 300 megawatts of power, is producing less than half of its capacity due to the same problem – low level of water in its reservoir.

The erratic supply of gas through the West African Gas Pipeline has also affected the operation of the thermal plants. Industry players have, however, argued that the lack of liquidity is also contributing to the problem, and that the government was finding it difficult to raise funds to purchase crude to fire the plants when gas is not available.

The government is, however, denying this claim, insisting that the constant shut down of the plants for routine maintenance is the cause.

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