By Kofi Adu Domfeh
Ghana needs alternative energy sources today more than ever before to sustain industries and enhance socio-economic livelihoods.
For businesses, the deficiency in supply of energy is an issue of survival, says Robert Kwakye Nketia, Ashanti Regional Chairman of Association of Ghana Industries (AGI).
“We’re not seeing big and constructive solutions to the energy problem. So as we speak today, a lot of industries have closed down; those who are working have laid workers off and it’s creating a lot of problem,” he said.
Power Minister, Dr. Kwabena Donkor, has put his head on the line to end the energy crisis by end of 2015, acknowledging that electricity is a prerequisite for industrialization.
Amidst the skepticism of an end in sight to a crisis that has been christened ‘DUMSOR’, there is the call for Ghana to explore sustainable alternative energy sources. Government is encouraging private sector participation in renewable energy to achieve a universal access to electricity by 2020 – over 90% penetration.
“Renewable energy is a sustainable option to ensure access to electricity service in both grid-connected and off-grid communities that are not likely to be connected to the national grid in the foreseeable future,” the Power Minister has stated.
The world’s oil reserve is estimated to last for 30-40 years. Solar, an infinite and pollution-free resource is seen as a good alternative in the face of climate change. With an abundant sunlight, sourcing practical solar solutions for a green Ghana is pushed as ideal to feed an economy that has over the years gone hungry of reliable energy sources.
Private sector player, the HOREB Group, is providing solutions to commercial and residential by designing solar infrastructure to solve individual energy challenges. Chief Executive Officer, Wilfred Adjei says the challenge faced by Ghana offers an opportunity for the country to “Go Solar”.
“We are saying that the sun is more dependable; we are saying all the systems are good, but let’s also harness what God has given to us freely…we need to go into designing, bring our scientists onboard and give the solution,” he said.
OORJA Solar, the Indian manufacturing partners of HOREB, has already launched a campaign to “lighting up one million lives in Ghana”.
“We need to direct our attention to people who do not have access to light because of power failure or the grid not reaching them; we want each and every household of Ghana being lit with a solar lamp so that the children can study, the women can cook in safe, hygienic and pollution-free environment,” stated Divya Varshnei, Director of OORJA Solar.
He describes solar as one of the best renewable energy forms for environmental and personal health. The cost of installing commercial solar panels has however often discouraged investments in the alternative. A 4KVA solar system, for instance, could cost about $16,000. According to Mr. Adjei, such cost should be seen as more of a long-term investment with good returns.
With guaranteed system lifespan of a minimum 25years, he explains that “within the first 3-5years, you are able to break even of the investment that you’ve made”. The business community is buying into the idea. Mr. Nketia whose company processes oilseeds is excited at the alternative.
“I didn’t know that the solar system could power the machines in my factory and when you have other alternatives of power which will be cheaper for you, which will also be available all the time, you have to such for it and get it,” he said.
Power Minister says investments in renewable energy must make both economic and social sense.