PrimeNewsGhana

New year ‘solar letter’ to Akufo-Addo

By Maximillian Kwarteng

Dear President-Elect Akufo-Addo,

A Happy New Year to you and your family and I wish you the LORD’s blessings in Health, Wisdom Strength and Long Live.

Again, let me seize this opportunity to congratulate You and the NPP on your resounding victory of the December 2016 Presidential and Parliamentary Elections.

Glaringly, it is evident that you and your team deserved this victory because you fought well for it.

However considerable the task ahead, I believe your and your team will surely live to the expectations.

Your Excellency, I must confess that my heart always leaps with great joy anytime I read pages 40, 42, 85, 92 and 99 of the NPP manifesto on Solar Power Development for Ghana. This joy comes from the hope that this is the way to liberate Ghana of our prolonged energy crisis.

SIR, with all due respect, permit me to say that“As a nation, we cannot just simply continue to do the same thing and expect different results”. Expectedly,  the experience over the last three years in our energy sector will call for a lot of solutions as you assume office come January 7, 2017, nonetheless, it is crucial that the choices we make now are sustainable.

Sadly, one resource that has poorly been harnessed to assist with our energy sector is the solar energy resource. Currently, solar power contributes only 0.18% (22.5MW) of the total generation capacity of our dear nation.

Sir, this is very sad because a country like Germany has a total of 38,000MW installed capacity of Solar Power, but Germany gets only one-third of sunshine hours we receive in Ghana.

Bluntly, I do not intend to modulate the colossal potential of Thermal Power Plants in Ghana’sgeneration,but over the past few years we have witnessed the ramifications of its operations and performance spanning from inconsistent and insufficient gas supply from Nigeria, chain of debt issues with fuel suppliers, vast depreciation of the Ghana Cedi, and routine maintenance of power plants, etc.

Currently, Thermal Power Plants has the lion’s share (70.33%) in our energy generation mix, questions but these and many others question its sustainability (Cost and dependability) as a source of power to our grid.

Your Excellency, I respectfully submit that Ghana needs greater energy independence, however, this is not simply a matter of improving something we already have: it's a matter of reversing the very negative trend.

In recent years, the conventional energy paradigm has rapidly lost ground in comparison to the concept of sustainable development, as it is based on the intensive use of non-renewable fossil fuels, causing environmental degradation and posing global energy security risks.

Thus, a modification in our energy paradigm is necessary. This new energy paradigm resonates with The 2015 Africa Progress Report dubbed “Seizing Africa’s Energy and Climate Opportunities”.

Sir, solar is available in great abundance for as long as life exists on earth and it is technically feasible in Ghana.

All of the technology needed to produce energy from the sun is here now and is well understood.

Solar panels are readily available and rapidly deployable.

Mr. President, as you may already know, there is a Ghanaian company named Strategic Power Solutions (SPS) manufacturing Solar PV Modules right here in Kpone-Tema.

Internationally, there remains a significant overcapacity of production for solar panels. That means they are widely available and competitively priced, especially if your government were to make some significant investments by providing all necessary logistical supports to IPPs with huge solar farm projects.

Again, solar power is affordable and getting cheaper all the time. Solar power are close to parity with fossil fuels even when externalities for fossils are ignored. Depending on how we value the external costs associated with fossil fuels, many are already cheaper. Solar panel prices have fallen about 70% to 80% over the last three years and scale and technology in the industry are continuing to drive down costs. 

This put Electricity Company of Ghana(ECG) and other power offtakers in an exceptional spot to negotiate highly competitive pricing for major solar deployments.

Your Excellency, Solar energy powered 50% of Germany’s midday electricity needs on May 26, 2012 – producing 22GW of energy. That’s the equivalent of about 25 coal power plants. If solar can supply half the energy needs of the world’s 4th largest economy on a given day, it could certainly play a bigger role in Ghana’s dumsor and future energy needs.

As a proud Ghanaian who deeply believes in your One Village One Dam Irrigation Policy, I believe Solar can power this innovative farming intervention. Also, the deployment of several solar minip-grids to connect off grid communities and adoption of a distributed solar energy solution for all government and public buildings as captured in the NPP manifesto can significantly lessen the burden on the national grid.

Again, Hybrid Megawatt solar PV power plants can be constructed with existing Hydro and Thermal Plants which can support the grid during the day to lessen the operations of existing peaking plants.

Some may think I am naïve to call on you to take such action at a time when our country’s energy needs have never been greater. They might say I am foolish because it will take many decades before true energy alternatives will become available and in the meantime we cannot afford to make do without the energy sources we currently have.

Mr. President, I respectfully disagree, and I think you do too, as evidenced in your vision and focus on energy.

Admittedly, solar is a part of the solution to the energy crisis in Ghana, nonetheless, it no longer should be treated as a niche or “alternative” energy solution. Solar has earned its place at the grown-up table.

In conclusion, with your leadership, I believe with all my heart that the Ghanaian who is blessed with all this sunshine will begin to enjoy its enormous energy and “dumsor will be banished totally under your regime.

I hope and pray, Mr. President that you will move our great nation to its rightful place.

God bless You

God bless Ghana

 

Author's Email: mkwarteng21@gmail.com