For the past 10 years, Ghana has found itself increasingly hard pressed to meet growing demands for reliable and affordable electricity. Between 1988 and 2008, the country’s electricity consumption grew at an average rate of
8 percent per annum putting enormous pressure on the electric utilities and straining generation capacity to its limits.
As population increases and the economy expands, the electricity consumption will remain 8 percent or even more, meaning the country needs to double its generation capacity in 7 years to meet demands. This demand poses major challenge.
The absence of coherent sector-wide energy mix planning strategies could thrust the country into another power crisis if nothing is done. A USAID study on global records indicates that for most middle income countries whose economies grew at an average of 5% per annum over the period 1985 to 2005, their energy generation grew at the average of 7% to cope with demands. This gives an indication of the expansion rates in power generation.
Presently about 85% of the country’s hydropower resources have been exploited, making it imperative to consider other power sources in expanding the country’s energy needs. Besides, the Akosombo dam has experienced below average annual inflows for about 20 out of the last 39 years of usage (1970 to 2008).
Thermal electricity generation from natural gas and crude oil exert tremendous pressure on the end-user tariff due to instability in world market prices. Other renewable sources such as wind, solar and wave are presently unable to produce the intensive, reliable and continuous electricity necessary to power industrial production. This leaves nuclear energy as the remaining viable option for the economy.
The ambitious industrialization and infrastructure program, coupled with the high urbanization and population growth require tremendous amounts of energy. The Institute shall support the Government to carry out an analysis of its energy mix and make recommendations to obtain the best choices in renewable and non-renewable energy.
For now the projected growth in demand can only be satisfied by nuclear energy. Only nuclear energy can power our industries on sustainable basis. Ghana has reached a stage in its development efforts where nuclear energy is no more an option or a luxury but a necessity. The importance of the nuclear energy demand goes far beyond a purely economic question. It is now a poverty reduction issue.
Ghana’s march towards tapping into nuclear energy sources for civil and peaceful purposes must commence immediately. The time has come for Ghana to aggressively pursue this one potential source of power that can rapidly provide adequate electricity to meet the needs of industry. Although the initial capital cost is high, the relatively low long-term operational and maintenance costs make nuclear energy the ideal option.
By 2030, when Ghana’s population is projected to have reached 40 million, the country’s energy demand would require the generation of between 18,000 to 25,000MW corresponding to a per capita output of approximately 3,000KWh. This is still lower than the current output of South Africa, yet achieving this target will require a concerted effort that needs to start now. In the short term, Ghana would be best served by building new thermal plants to fully utilize natural gas from the West Africa Gas Pipeline project and internal gas fields.
Energy conservation must also be scale-up. If Ghana continues to use electricity inefficiently, currently losing 30 percent through wastage, efforts at efficient generation will not be beneficial. Energy conservation will not only help consumers to reduce expenditure on electricity, but also save the country from expensive investments in generation plants