UNEP Report Provides Roadmap for Solar Energy Exports from Ghana

A new report entitled Ghana Strategy Proposal – Realizing solar PV projects in a cross-border power supply context, released by UNEP under the Green Economy and Trade Opportunities Project (GE-TOP), confirms that technical and legal infrastructure is already in place to accommodate up to 220 MW of intermittent solar power in Ghana.

solar future

Launched at the Solar & Off-Grid Renewables West Africa 2016 conference, the study also found that the ongoing and planned upgrades of the transmission system between Ghana and Burkina Faso will raise the cross-border carrying capacity to 400 MW, further increasing Ghana’s solar energy export potential.

According to UNEP, a grid-connected 100 megawatt (MW) solar power plant in the north of Ghana could save the country 40,000 tonnes in annual CO2 emissions, create 3,000 direct jobs, provide livelihoods for 23,000 of the poorest people and earn the country an annual $38 million from energy export.

In 2013, the grid access in Ghana was estimated at 72 per cent. The country`s vision of an “Energy Economy” strives to further electrification domestically and turn Ghana into a major exporter of power to other West African countries. To that end, Ghana has set itself an ambitious target of nearly doubling its power generation capacity by 2020, with renewable sources to represent 10 per cent of the energy mix, and has engaged in the West African Power Pool (WAPP) to promote integration and harmonization of the regional power market.

UNEP’s report supports these efforts by proposing a strategy for selecting a solar-ready, cross-border grid line between Ghana and Burkina Faso, securing preferential financing, and approving installation, including an in-depth assessment of technical and financial requirements. 

The Strategy Proposal builds on the GE-TOP Ghana Solar Export Potential Study launched in September last year, which found that Ghana has, in theory, a total solar power generation potential of 106.2 gigawatts, on available land within 20 kilometres from the national power grid. This is around two thirds of the current installed capacity in all of Africa.

The report proposes solutions to the major technology challenge of integrating a variable source of energy, such as solar power, into the grid. Such a move can cause problems with power quality, voltage and frequency variations, power fluctuations and system stability. 

The Strategy Proposal and the Solar Export Potential Study were prepared by UNEP in partnership with The Energy Centre (TEC) at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Kumasi, Ghana. The project is endorsed by the national government, whose four ministries actively contributed to the reports. The project is financially supported by the European Commission (EC).

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