West African clean energy fair underway

BY: Edmund Smith-Asante
An official of Doppstadt explaining a point to Dr  Kwabena Donkor (4th right), Minister of Power, Dr Kwame Ampofo (3rd left), Chairman of the Energy Commission, and other officials at the 1st Ghana  Renewable Energy fair in Accra.

The first renewable energy fair which involves a three-day international conference and an exhibition, on the theme “Renewable energy technology for sustainable development,” has begun in Accra.

The twin fairs – the 4th West African Clean Energy and Environment Exhibition and Conferences (WACEE 2015) and the Ghana Renewable Energy Fair, are being organised by the Delegation of German Industry and Commerce in Ghana (AHK), fairtrade and the Ministry of Power.

Exhibitors at the fair include local and foreign-based private solar and biogas companies as well as the Energy Commission, Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), the Volta River Authority (VRA), the German Embassy and German development agencies. Germany has set up a dedicated stand, the German Pavilion, which has 12 companies exhibiting high quality renewable energy and waste management solutions from Germany.

Attending the conference are energy experts and stakeholders, and topics to be discussed at the various sessions will be on financing, new technologies, the role of the private and public sectors and converting waste to energy.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, the Board Chairman of the Ghana Energy Commission, Dr Kwame Ampofo, said that Ghana by virtue of its location had the ideal conditions to exploit renewable energy and for which research had been ongoing for about three decades.

He said the fair would be held annually to unlock Ghana’s renewable energy potentials and increase awareness of renewable energy.

Renewable Energy Act

Delivering the keynote address, the Minister of Power, Dr Kwabena Donkor, stated that Ghana was endowed with significant renewable energy resources that needed to be harnessed to complement the growing energy demands for the considerable development of the country.

He said it was in an effort to address the current energy supply security challenges and to ensure sustainable development that the government had legislated the Renewable Energy Act (2011) Act 832, to provide the legal framework for large scale deployment of renewable energy technologies.

According to him, the passage of the Renewable Energy Act had resulted in a surge by investors to explore the country’s renewable energy potential with a number of projects such as the VRA 2.5 mw grid-connected solar system at Navrongo in 2013 and a 20 mw solar power developed by a private producer at Mankoadze in the Central Region already completed.

Mini grids

He said despite the high access rate which was currently 80.5 per cent in the country, there were still significant areas not covered by the national grid.

The government, he said, had therefore identified renewable energy based mini-grids and standalone renewable energy solutions as one of the promising options to achieve universal access to electricity by 2020.

“From next month, the official commissioning of the first phase of the mini grids will be done,” he said.

Dr Donkor said as part of the efforts to increase the contribution of renewable energy in the most cost effective manner, the Power Ministry had directed the Energy Commission and other agencies to set up a framework for the deployment of a 20 mw solar hub so as to establish a benchmark for solar prices through competitive tender process, which he believed would be ready by the end of the year.

The Volta River Authority (VRA) is also undertaking feasibility studies for a 75MW wind park along the eastern corridor of the Greater Accra Region to generate electricity from wind.

He said studies were also being conducted to add 12 mw grid-connected solar plant in the Upper West Region, while a number of private independent power producers were also working on several wind, solar and waste to energy projects, including a 150mw wind farm at Ayitepa in the Eastern Region.

The German Ambassador to Ghana, Mr Ruediger John, said construction of the 12 megawatt solar plant in the Upper West Region was being supported by the German government, through its Renewable Energy Programme, adding that “Germany has a lot of solutions to offer to make energy supply in Ghana more reliable and sustainable.”

Mr Ruediger, whose country has made significant contributions in the country’s renewable energy development space, said a decentralised renewable energy and distributed generation, such as photovoltaic installations on rooftops, could have a combined effect of significantly reducing the load as well as saving home owners and businesses some of the cost for diesel.

The Delegate of German Industry and Commerce in Ghana, Mr Patrick Martens, said WACEE had become the leading fair on renewables and waste management in West Africa, adding that the platform would offer additional value to its patrons.

He said the fair had the backing of the German government, the Konrad Adeneur Foundation and its industrialised state, North Rhine Westpherlia, offering the fair the highest endorsement in Germany, culminating in the German Pavilion.

Mr Martens entreated the participants and exhibitors to make contacts