Ghana comissions 20 MW solar park, plans auctions for IPP projects

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Ghana’s president Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo officially inaugurated a 20 MW solar power plant in Gomoa Onyaadze, near Winneba, in the Central Region of South Ghana, on Sunday.

According to a press release from the Ghanaian government, the facility – the second operational large-scale solar park in the country – was developed by local independent power producer, Meinergy Ghana Ltd, utilizing 64,400 solar panels and 400 inverters provided by unnamed manufacturers.

More technical and financial details on the project were not provided.

The government did say, however, “When we came into office, we inherited a plethora of IPP agreements, all of whom were contracted at the time of our crisis and, therefore, left us in a weak position, and got us accepting tariff rates of 18 cents per kilowatt hour and over. In an area in the world where 10 cents per kilowatt hour is the maximum, we are producing IPP agreements at 18 cents per kilowatt hour.”

As a consequence, Dankwa Akufo-Addo said that in the future, IPP contracts will be given only after a procurement process, and that the Ministry of Energy and the state-owned utility Electricity Company of Ghana have now been tasked with defining the new procurement scheme.

The country’s first operational solar park is also a 20 MW facility, which was commissioned in April 2016 and was built by Chinese technology company, Beijing Xiaocheng Company (BXC), a subsidiary of Beijing Fuxing Xiao-Cheng Electronic (FXXCE).

Other large-scale projects are being developed in Ghana, including a 20 MW PV power plant in the area of Tamale, in the north of th country, by Italian oil company ENI,  and two utility-scale PV plants totaling 12 MW in the Upper West Region by Ghana’s largest power supplier, the Volta River Authority (VRA).

According to a recent report from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Ghana currently has a total installed capacity of around 4.2 GW, of which 2.62 GW comes from a thermal power plant, 1.58 GW from hydropower and just 42 MW from solar. The country has one of Africa’s higher access rate to energy – 83% – with this reaching 91% in urban areas and 50% in rural regions.

Ghana’s National Energy Policy is targeting 10% coverage of electricity production with renewables by 2020. This strategy also includes a program for rooftop PV, the MDA Solar Rooftop Programme, although this is still to be launched.