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Opinions of Saturday, 9 March 2013

Columnist: Baafi, Alex Bossman

There Is No Immediate Solution to the Energy Crisis

By Alex Bossman Baafi

To solve this embarrassing energy crisis, we need to take the bull by the horn. Experience had thought us that are no immediate solutions to the crisis because power generation is not a one day job. For example constructing a Dam takes years even when money and rivers are available.

The scheduling period for building a Single Cycle Thermal Power Plant also lasts between 8 to 12 months. The problem we face as a country is lack of political will on the part of our leaders to focus consistently to invest to increase power generation above the 10% yearly national demand and also have about 20% reserve as back –up.

I will liken the habit of our political and economic leaders to that of a bird called Vulture. All birds among creation make it a duty to put up nests so that when the weather becomes uncomfortable they go into their nests or homes. The Vulture is the only exception. It always forgets that there are bad times ahead. It becomes conscious of the need for a nest when it rains and its life becomes miserable by being beaten severely by the torrential rains. In such situations, Vulture will swear and promise to build a nest but as soon as the rains are over it forgets about the need for it to build a nest. The meaning of this parable is the “procrastination is the thief of time” that is why we are where we are.

When everything is normal, Akosombo dam is full, and all thermal plants are running because there is gas available, our political leaders forget about the need to increase power generation in our country.

We have been made to understand that the current crisis is due to non-availability of gas from Nigeria through the West African Gas Pipeline Company (WAGPco) but that is not the solution in my humble opinion. What is the guarantee that the incident that happened to dislocate the pipelines under the seabed will not happen again?

When you fail to plan, you plan to fail. With hind sight experience and knowing the economic importance of power, why did we wait over ten years for the two single cycle thermal plants for Volta River Authority (VRA) and Takoradi International Company (TICO) to be combined to produce 300MW? A single cycle plant produces about 110MW, therefore two will generate 220MW. Combining them by adding steam turbine will add an additional 80MW of power.

Presently we have two single cycle Plants in Tema. One is for VRA and the other for CENIT Energy, a private investor in the energy sector. There is an urgent need to combine the two to be able to generate around 300MW. The two plants running simultaneously generate around 200MW in their single cycle states. The more we wait to invest in the combine cycle, the more we loose money and power at the same time. The beauty of the combine cycle is that we get additional power of say, 80MW at no additional fuel cost. The fuel cost of operating the two plants for 220MW remains the same if the plants are combined to generate 300MW.

If our leaders are serious to solve the energy crises for good, these are some of the investments options they should focus on. We need to bite the bullet now and stop behaving like the Vulture because indecision is a disease and procrastination is thief of time. Our fire - fighting approach to the energy crisis of our country is journey to nowhere in my sincere opinion.

Email: abkbossmab@yahoo.co.uk