Ghana spurs PV development across country

Around 150 schools and community centers in 98 districts across Ghana are to receive PV installations under the country’s Energy Development and Access Project (GEDAP).

Spearheaded by Danish firm Johs. Gram-Hanssen and its local representative Best Solar and funded by the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), the project is set to be completed by March.

When asked about its reasons for investing in the project, a World Bank spokesperson said, “At the time of the project’s approval slightly more than 50% of Ghana’s population had access to electricity from the national grid. Today, this number has officially climbed to nearly 72%. Nevertheless, there remain significant shares of Ghana’s population living in areas where the electricity grid cannot reach. This project was designed to test a model for promoting PV-based electricity for those areas where the grid will not reach in the foreseeable future.”

According to World Bank documents filed in September 2013, the project was projected to utilize “50 solar standalone power systems, 4,500 rechargeable lanterns, and installation of the systems in 98 districts in Ghana and [the] training of beneficiary basic schools […].”

The same documents further outline the technical aspects of the venture. Procured under the deal will be 150 600 Wp solar PV modules, 600 Ah batteries, 400 W DC/AC inverters with 800 W surge tolerance, and charge controllers. In addition, the project is procuring 1,000 lamps and holders, plus 450 switches, cables and accessories for 150 systems; and 4500 5-10 W rechargeable lanterns. The deal also includes installation and a training program.

According to Ghana Web, that training took place over six days in mid-December and was led by Mohammad Hafidz Machfudz of the University of Indonesia and Peter J.M. Konings of the Asia-Pacific Energy Group.

Funding for the project was obtained as a loan from the IDA, which is part of the World Bank. The IDA loan formed part of a larger spread of loans from various bodies that totalled $210.55 million. The IDA portion of that is $90 million. It is understood that a portion of this was used to fund the project.

GEDAP came into operation in 2007 and is slated to finish in July 2015. According to a World Bank spokesperson, around £12 million of the project was devoted exclusively to the development of renewable energy.

Ghana has received significant funding from the World Bank since May 2007, when GEDAP was approved. In addition to its original funding, it received a $4.4 million grant from the Global Program on Output Based Aid (GPOBA) and in 2010 was awarded an additional $70 million by the IDA. The GPOBA grant provided over 16,500 homes with basic PV-based electricity through micro-finance loans, reportedly besting its original target of 15,000 due to decreases in the cost of PV technology and the weakening strength of the Ghanaian currency.