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SMEs need financial support to adopt renewable energy technology – ACEP

BY: Ama Amankwah Baafi
Mr Benjamin Boakye
Mr Benjamin Boakye

A survey on the opportunities and challenges to renewable energy’s adoption by small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have called for cost reduction policies as incentives to promote their growth, a survey report has shown.

The measures should include reducing the cost of renewable energy technology installation, reliability of supply from RE power plants and reduced cost of power from RE sources.

The survey also stressed the need for the provision of information in readily accessible formats and engaging stakeholders, especially small businesses on RE adoption.

The Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP),which conducted the survey, also showed revealed financial challenges, high investment cost, limited credit facilities and limited knowledge on RE technologies as some of the barriers to the adoption of RE.

At a virtual forum, a Policy Lead, Climate Change and Energy Transition at the ACEP, Mr Charles Gyamfi Ofori, said although access to reliable and affordable supply of power was essential for SMEs ability to apply technology to their operations, the above hindered them from adopting RE technologies.

The study was ,therefore, conducted as part of a broader objective to enhance access to affordable RE.

Mr Ofori noted electricity was an essential aspect of the operations of SMEs, largely for powering machines in manufacturing, processing and packaging, as well as administrative and data management operations.

Consequently, he said access to reliable and affordable supply of power was essential for SMEs’ ability to apply technology to their operations in a rapidly advancing technological world.

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“There are opportunities for RE adoption by SMEs. Solar plants and other forms of RE technologies have not only proven to be stable and cheaper in the long-term but also contribute to environmental sustainability.

“A steady decline in RE costs over the years and has made it an attractive option for cost-effective source of power,” he said.


Need for financial support

Some SMEs are hesitant to approach financial institutions for RE financing needs due to perceived high interest charges and the short-term nature of loans offered.

According to renewable technology suppliers, majority of their consumers self-finance all costs on the installation and maintenance of the technologies.

However, some financial institutions have indicated their willingness to provide financial support for SMEs to invest in renewable energy products, although this is predicated on the availability of the requisite collateral and evidence of sustainable cash flow.

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A Member of the Corporate Relations team, CalBank, Mr Abraham Nii Okai Dsane, during a presentation on the Bank’s Green Financing, said there was numerous financial opportunities for corporate, SMEs and individuals in green financing.

“CalBank understands the environmental and social benefits of going green and is ,therefore, committed to play an active role in the transition from non-renewable energy to green energy. We care about the environment, let us corporate to save it for our mutual benefit,” he said.

On his part, the Executive Director of the ACEP, Mr Benjamin Boakye corroborated that better alternatives that mitigate the challenge of the unreliability of power supply and high cost of power were essential for SME productivity.